LA state leaders in favor of federal proposal to increase school choice

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 8:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Some state leaders are hoping federal legislation passes that would give parents more of a choice in where their kids go to school.

The proposed law has support from State Superintendent Cade Brumley who said he believes parents should have the right to choose where their kids go to school.

It’s the Educational Choice for Children Act (ECCA). It gives students a choice of where they go to school by filling the gap for private school tuition.

“Quality education, you can never take that away from a person,” Kelli Bottger said. “Nine times out of ten if a child doesn’t receive a quality education regardless of their zip code they end up with no other options if they can’t read, if they can’t write, what job are they going to go and do?”

Former education Bottger with LA Kids Matter said Louisiana students would see the benefits if the act were to pass.

“It would dramatically increase the amount of assistance low-income families would receive through this act because it could stack on top of our current existing scholarships,” she said.

It’s the first federal scholarship program like this. However, Louisiana has two school choice programs already.

The Louisiana Scholarship Program often called the voucher program and the Louisiana Tuition Donation Credit Program. both allow students to attend private schools and have their tuition partially or fully covered. This federal program would aim to do the same, but with expanded eligibility.

“Currently the scholarship programs in Louisiana are only for low income families,” Bottger.“ So, it creates a huge advantage to the working and middle income families.”

She said this would mean more families would have access to the education of their choice.

“We still are not where our students were pre-COVID pandemic, like we’re still behind where we were in 2019,” Bottger said. “So, it gives parents the flexibility to say you know what, my public school is not catching up as fast as they should. I really can’t afford private school. I’m a middle income family, but with this little bit of help I can make it work.”

The ECCA scholarship would be granted on a first come first serve basis providing $10 billion in funding pulled from tax credits for donations to Scholarship Granting Organizations. Those eligible are families of students K-12, with income threshold of 300% of median income as calculated by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for each region.

Once awarded, the scholarship is intended to stay with a student attending their private school. For example, students who would receive an ECCA scholarship this year would have priority the following year. In addition to tuition cost, the funding can also be using for tutoring.

State leaders supporting the proposal include Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. John Kennedy, Rep. Julia Letlow, Rep. Mike Johnson, Rep. Clay Higgins and Rep. Garret Graves.

The bill is currently being considered by congress. and if passed it would go into effect Dec. 31 of this year.