Each child is unique. Parents understand their children’s educational needs better than anyone, and should be empowered and supported in discovering a school that meets those needs.

Though improving, Louisiana's public education system still ranks among the lowest-performing in the United States, with only 1/3 of students performing at grade level.

As state leaders strive to expedite improvements, families in Louisiana require immediate educational alternatives, similar to those available to families in other states.

The Problem: Why we need education reform

More than 85% of Louisiana kids attend public schools. Yet, our state’s public schools remain well below national averages for academic achievement, even with higher per-student funding than other states in the Southeast.

Over 40% of public schools have been identified as “needing improvement” by the Louisiana Department of Education per the state’s accountability system.

Only 33% of Louisiana students scored proficient or above on the 2023 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP).

Nearly 45% of Louisiana kids in kindergarten through third grade scored "below/well below" in reading on a fall 2023 benchmark assessment.

Fewer than 30% of Louisiana students in fourth and eighth grades scored at or above proficient levels in reading and math on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The Solution: Advocating for Education Savings Accounts (EsAs) in Louisiana

Picture a Louisiana where educational options are as diverse as the bayous that scatter our state. Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) empower families with the liberty to choose educational providers that align with their children’s needs.

Parents of eligible students would receive access to a state-established account, where state education funds that would have otherwise been spent on them in a public school will be deposited.

By allowing these state dollars to "follow" the child to the chosen school or provider, this system acknowledges the unique understanding that parents possess regarding the needs of their children.

ESA FAQs

  • How do ESAs work?

    State dollars within an ESA can be either “bundled” or “unbundled”

    Bundled: A family can choose to use entirety of ESA to pay for private school tuition and fees

    Unbundled: A family can choose to create a customized program of education by using funds to pay instructors and tutors, purchase educational materials and supplies, and more

  • How do we know that choice programs work?

    There is substantial evidence that school choice programs have positive effects for students. A meta-analysis of 19 such programs around the world indicates that they improve student reading and math performance (Shakeel, Anderson, and Wolf, University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, 2016).

    Not only do these programs work for students, they’ve also been found to raise student achievement in the community/traditional public schools that students leave. The most recent comprehensive review of research conducted on the effects of school choice and competition within K-12 education found “positive effects on student achievement” according to 90 different studies (Education Policy journal, 2019).

  • Why are states passing these particular types of school choice bills?

    ESAs are far more flexible for families than voucher or tax credit programs. Families can use funds to pay for private school tuition and fees or they can design a customized or hybrid program that best works for the unique needs of their child and their family.

    We learned during the pandemic that children learn very differently, and there are many ways that teaching and learning can happen. What works for one child may not work for another. There are also more education resources available to parents now than ever before – vendors, providers, online programs, instructors, tutors, part-time programs, etc. Families should be able to choose or assemble the type of educational program that works best for their child’s needs.

  • Which states currently have universal or near-universal ESAs now?

    Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia have had ESA programs for years. In the past two years, however, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Utah, and West Virginia have passed ESA programs that cover all or nearly all school-age children in their state. Similar legislation is pending in several other states.

  • How would this affect local school systems financially?

    Because this program will be supported through state dollars only, and because public school systems would retain 100% of their local and federal funds, public schools’ per pupil revenue would actually increase, giving them even more resources to support children who remain enrolled. This program is truly a “win- win” for all involved.

    Families who are happy with their child’s public school can stay there; this is merely an option. Families who believe their child can be better served elsewhere would have resources to support a change they believe will help their child be successful.

  • How would ESAs function differently than Louisiana’s current scholarship program?

    The Louisiana Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEEP) pays for tuition and fees at certain participating private schools, and those schools are subject to a number of requirements that many schools as well as national advocates believe are overly restrictive and burdensome.

    The program was created specifically for students attending C, D, or F rated schools and having a family income limit that does not exceed 250% of the federal poverty line. The program also has many rules for participating schools (testing, accountability, admissions requirements, etc.); some of these rules have caused some of our state’s largest and most successful private schools not to participate in the program because the regulations do not honor what has made their model successful. Being forced to measure progress only via the LEAP test, which may not align with their chosen curriculum, for example, is not a fair way of measuring student learning. It's certainly not the only way.

    The ESA bills would provide an additional option for students who may not be eligible for the SSEEP program and an additional opportunity for private schools and educational service providers that may not be participating in SSEEP to serve more children. Bottom line, it will serve as another lifeline to children and their families and may be a more attractive option for providers that have been reluctant to participate in existing choice programs due to perceived overregulation and red tape.

Debunking Common ESA Myths

ESAs take money away from public schools.

ESAs will cause public schools to close and/or lay off teachers and other school employees.

ESAs won’t work in rural communities.

ESAs are handouts for wealthy families.

ESAs won't work for children with special needs.

ESAs aren’t needed in communities with highly-rated public schools.

ESAs will mean more government regulations over private schools.

ESAs will cost taxpayers more money.