School Choice has Come to Louisiana

School Choice Has Come To Louisiana

By Jennifer Bright

Each year, more and more states are embracing school choice options through education savings accounts (ESAs) and school voucher legislation. Alabama was the first state to pass a universal school choice bill in 2024! Louisiana will not be far behind as it is being debated this week in the Louisiana Senate.

As private homeschoolers in Louisiana, why should we be concerned about ESAs or school voucher legislation? Statistically, Louisiana has always been near or at the bottom in education as compared to the other fifty states. For example, in 2023, Louisiana ranked 46th. The question that is often asked is, why wouldn’t we support these school choice options? Wouldn’t ESAs help lift Louisiana students from the bottom?

School Choice

‘School choice’ is often referred to as educational choice, educational options, parent choice, etc., in which taxpayer-funded monies are channeled through school vouchers, educational savings accounts, educational empowerment scholarships, tax credits, etc., (which sound and look enticing) for parents to choose the educational option that they believe is best for their child(ren). Louisiana’s version, the Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) scholarship program, is being decided this week at the capital.

Government Monies—Government Regulation

As with all government monies, there will be regulations, rules, accountability, and control. Currently, 13% of Louisiana school districts receive their funding from the Federal Government, and the rest is divided between the state’s budget and our local sales and property taxes.

How will this new legislation affect private homeschoolers in Louisiana? From HB 745, section 4037.5. (Schools and service providers; eligibility; participation), private homeschoolers who register either as a home study program or a nonpublic school not seeking state approval are not eligible to participate or concurrently enroll in the LA GATOR scholarship program. The LA GATOR scholarship program sets up a new class of government-funded students, just like Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. So currently, private homeschoolers will not be affected.

            “When parents take these funds, they sign a statement that they are no longer homeschooling, even if they may be educating at home. As a result, accepting ESA funds places the student in a new category as an ESA student. Because students are no longer privately funded homeschool students, but instead publicly funded ESA students, government regulation inevitably follows and impacts the education these students receive.”[1]

It may not affect private homeschoolers today, it could in the future. The current bill requires all students who participate in the LA GATOR scholarship program to comply with all program requirements (including yearly testing). But what about next year or the year after, how will the government change or modify the program requirements?

Other States’ ESA Programs and Problems

Let’s look at a couple of other states that have drunk from the well of ESAs, like  Arizona and West Virginia. Budgets have blown up! There is an administrative nightmare and a lack of accountability. Politicians and educational leaders are looking for solutions to fix the failed experiment.

Resist the Temptation

As Leigh Bortins shares in this article,

            Parents are presented with “choices” that aren’t really choices at all.” And “Receiving one-time government money with no strings attached makes the second, third, and fourth times easier with strings attached. With the shekels come the shackles.” So, “we must…resist the temptation posed by government funding.”

Educate Yourself

Think through these questions from Classical Conversations® Educational Freedom website, as you consider who do you want to control your homeschool—you or the government?

  • Do you want the state involved in your homeschooling on any level?
  • Is accepting any financial assistance from the state a slippery slope?
  • Where does the money come from?
  • Would it be more beneficial for homeschoolers to keep their education tax money rather than fund the Department of Education with that money?
  • In your state, are you still classified and protected as a homeschooler if you receive government funding?
  • Is making your own curriculum decisions important to you, or would you prefer the Department of Education to assume oversight in those decisions?
  • What historical examples can you think of where the government was involved in decisions like this? What were the initial intentions? Were the outcomes positive or negative, and how accurately did they reflect those initial intentions?

In Louisiana, there are currently over 45,000 children being home educated. If we were our own school district, we would be the second largest in the state! Just remember, the state government (and federal) will do whatever it can to bring us under its control, and ESAs are just one of their avenues. We need to stand firm against any governmental encroachment on our freedoms to direct our children’s education. We, as parents, know what is best for our children.

The Homeschool Freedom Action Center website is here to help you stay informed and to help families educate themselves on what true educational freedom is!

Jennifer Bright profile headshot

Jennifer Bright is the Communication Manager for Research and Quality Assurance for Classical Conversations. Jennifer’s passions are classical Christian education and discipling the next generation to live for Christ. She supports homeschool families by tutoring their students with the classical tools of learning. Jennifer and her husband began their homeschool journey almost 20 years ago in Russia while serving as missionaries, and currently, they reside in Covington, Louisiana.


[1] “Educational Savings Account.” Accessed 4/15/2024. https://classicalconversations.widen.net/s/swkgl26rw7?__hstc=87463879.1d548548b58a4ef2d8bb0d564a005567.1638826400930.1670868123213.1670943201710.270&__hssc=&__hsfp=&hsCtaTracking=d9ec90d4-0a2d-4d25-bcbb-c8c3b64bb33d%7Cbc6a2c98-eeed-4bdf-adba-2ef77c9a312a

the Texas capitol building

May Homeschool Days at the Capitol! Get Ready!

Homeschool Days at the Capitol, Legislative Days, Capitol Days, Pie Day, and other similar events foster communication between parents and their elected representatives. Seize this excellent opportunity to teach your children the importance of the legislative process. Help them mature into civic leaders who will help protect American freedoms.

The chart below lists May Homeschool Days at the Capitol. You can also check your state’s dates here if they’re not listed below.

LouisianaMay 15, 2024
New YorkMay 22-23, 2024
a boy concentrates on his homework, studying the design of airplanes

What are Our Schools “Really” Teaching?

By Jennifer Bright

As contentious school board meetings were publicized in Virginia, I pondered about what was happening in my local area and what the schools were ‘really’ teaching. I started watching my local board meetings online to see the hot topics like library books, new curricula, charter schools, etc. For background, my community is one of the wealthier, conservative parishes with some of the best public schools. With the top schools, my area also has the largest number of homeschoolers in the state.

In addition to this, I wasn’t surprised to see inconspicuous, redefined language regarding social-emotional learning in the curriculum. So, I took a closer look at a few curriculum companies that my local school district uses:

Amplify Science

In early 2023, the local school board adopted a new science curriculum, Amplify Science. I did a quick search online to learn more about the company. From their website:

“Our goal is to make education, and thereby the world, more equitable and accessible… To do this, we hire and develop people with the broadest range of talents, life stories and experiences, and together we build a diverse and inclusive culture”.1

There are a few words that stick out: equitable, accessible, diverse, and inclusive. This is, on the surface DEI curriculum.

FranklinCovey Company: Leader in Me

Another curriculum company adopted this year by my local public schools is Leader in Me by the FranklinCovey company. Here is what the company says about itself:

“Inclusion is a core value at FranklinCovey. We know that building an inclusive work culture in which everyone is valued and respected contributes to our success. Our content and solutions encourage inclusion and embracing and celebrating different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

As a company, we prohibit discrimination as it relates to race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, education, disability status, socioeconomic status, religion, or any other characteristic… We are committed to serving our customers with respect and helping them improve their individual, team, and organizational performance to achieve extraordinary results and lasting change.” 2… FranklinCovey works with clients every day to steward diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives bolstered by our learning programs… Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are in strong alignment with FranklinCovey’s core mission and values.”3

Do we not see those same words of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) here as well? And the FranklinCovey company is committed to stewarding DEI in its learning programs, like Leader in Me.4

FranklinCovey company is very clear that they are proudly proclaiming DEI, CRT, and the alphabet mess.

Great Minds: Eureka Math

As a final test case, a popular math curriculum used by many schools around the country, as well as in my local public schools, is Eureka Math2; This math program states in its overview, “designed to advance equity in the math classroom.”5

In the Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 press release from Great Minds, they share “how its math and English language arts curricula integrate social and emotional learning into their core instruction.”

“Eureka Math® (PK–12) and Wit & Wisdom® (K–8) each foster the development of the five core competencies from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The analyses explain how each curriculum aligns with the competencies and research, showing why the competencies are important to student development and academic learning.”6

This company was not as easy to identify if they were using CRT or committed to DEI. It is like a blip on a radar screen that is warning us that something is coming but not sure if it is a friend or foe. So, as a classically educated person, let’s define the terms:

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) “is a systemic approach that emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across key settings of classrooms, schools, families, and communities to enhance all students’ social, emotional, and academic learning.”7

“Inequities based on race, ethnicity, class, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors are deeply ingrained in the vast majority of these systems and impact student and adult social, emotional, and academic learning. While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can create the conditions needed for individuals and schools to examine and interrupt inequitable policies and practices, create more inclusive learning environments, and reveal and nurture the interests and assets of all individuals.”8

Is SEL a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory?

From a 2021 article, the Washington Examiner said social-emotional learning is a “Trojan horse” for both critical race theory and transgender advocacy being introduced and propagated in public schools. It is also being referred to as a “new variant of the “CRT-virus,” and “SEL education pipeline.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has evolved into a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum (SEL) known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  This has crept into our public school systems through its school curricula via teacher training programs. Words like “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching” sound harmless and pleasing, but their actual definitions are different than what they commonly mean.9

My local school district banned Critical Race theory from being taught in public schools. I am not so sure. So what are your local schools ‘really’ teaching?

Engage and Educate

We can’t just do internet searches on DEI and CRT and expect to find everything anymore. The enemy always appears as an angel of light, shifting its language to accomplish its goals. This is just scratching the surface of the cultural battle raging around us. Parents, we need to be sober and attentive to what curriculum providers are promoting. Do they align with our Christian values and beliefs?

We need to engage the culture, stand firm, and choose to educate in the Truth!

Classical Conversations has created a new math curriculum that is classical in pedagogy, with a Christian worldview, to teach and disciple our children in the Truth.  Check it out!

To learn more about the difference between equality and equity, read our recent blog.

Jennifer Bright is the Communication Manager for Research and Quality Assurance for Classical Conversations. Jennifer’s passions are classical Christian education and discipling the next generation to live for Christ. She supports homeschool families by tutoring their students with the classical tools of learning. Jennifer and her husband began their homeschool journey almost 20 years ago in Russia while serving as missionaries, and currently, they reside in Covington, Louisiana.

  1. DEIA Statement”. Amplify. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  2. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  3. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  4. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  5. Eureka Math Squared”. Great Minds. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  6. Colby, Chad. “Great Minds Curricula Integrate Social Emotional Learning with Instruction”. Great Minds. October 4, 2019. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  7. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  8. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  9. Letter: The Failing Acronyms of CRT DEI and SEL”. Orange Town News. September 28, 2023. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
a red "I voted" sticker

Vote for Liberty

By Lauren Gideon

A few people have asked for my recommendations for upcoming school board seats up for election. I know of some good people running, and I will give you their names in a heartbeat because I have much respect for them. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am convinced that school board elections are a waste of good people, time, and resources in the year 2023.

State School Snare: Incapable of Giving You the Tools Needed to Flourish

Government schools are captured on so many levels. Unfortunately, there is little chance for reform. Even if you gave the necessary people, time, and resources to the cause, the reality is that liberating education is not in a growing government’s best interest. An education that teaches the proper affection toward liberty and a proper fear of consolidated power would threaten a growing government; thus, the state schools are incapable of giving you the tools needed to flourish. The government will use its schools to propagate the expansion of itself. (This we can already see.) At this rate, how many graduating classes currently stand between where we are at now and implementing and embracing absolute socialism?

The only mechanism to stop the suppression of liberty is to defund state education and the Department of Education. However, the moment you say that out loud, you had better expect a very loud and in-your-face question from an unimaginative population that screams, “BUT WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT STATE EDUCATION?!?”
 
Well, the first reality is that in the state of Iowa, where I live, $3.7 billion (thanks to the latest increase due to school choice policies) will flood back into the Iowa free-market education economy. Consequently, all sorts of options become possible.

Unsatisfied, the same doubters will insist that Iowans will not fund education through any other method than coercive taxation.

This also is no cause for alarm since, historically speaking, the free market has the potential to offer a higher quality education for less than 50 percent of the cost of government education.

Self-Fund or Secure Private Funding for Education?

But the ultimate concerns from skeptics will sound something like this: “What will happen if parents won’t self-fund or secure private funding for their children’s education? Will we end up with a population of uneducated children that will be a liability to our state? Consequently, it must be in our state’s best interest to fund and force government education on children.”

This question is powerful because it shows the true colors of our culture and reveals our flawed presumptions:

1. We presume that the state cares more for children than their parents.

2. We presume that the state is responsible for parental failures.

3. Finally, we reveal that we would rather trust our mechanisms of control than embrace the responsibility of freedom.

Because of this reality, the economics of the issue do not really matter.

Freedom Is a Dangerous Currency

Freedom is an invitation to responsibility, but it allows for the opportunity to embrace or reject that responsibility. Freedom does not protect from failure. The question has to be asked: do our states even want freedom? Does our nation? The Proverbs speak of two women, Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom, and the choice to be made. Similarly, in our modern context, there are also two women: Lady Liberty and the Lady “Nanny.” This choice is more fundamental than any political party, as the siren call from Lady Nanny beckons all. She whispers empty promises of safety and security and blinds us to the opportunity and blessings found with Lady Liberty.

Vote for Liberty

When election day arrives, there will be choices. Step one is to vote for candidates that are appropriately shutting out the Nanny’s calls. Step two, after election day, will you build relationships in your community and with those that represent you? Will you advocate for Liberty and warn against the deceptive promises of the Nanny?

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

The Romeikes family, smiling at the camera, with text that says "Support the Remeikes. Contact your representative and sign the petition"

URGENT: Romeike Family Facing Deportation

From Classical Conversations & HSLDA

Within our organization there is unanimous conviction that all people have a right, not just a priviledge, to educate their children freely, without any intervention by state or any other organizations. One such family – The Romeike’s – fled Germany to the United States to exercise this freedom, but are now facing deportation.

The Romeike’s need your help, and they need it FAST. Please see the following message from our friends at HSLDA below, contact your Representative, and sign the petition.

The Romeike family fled Germany for the United States in 2008 seeking asylum so that they could homeschool their children without fear of persecution. After more than a decade of making the United States their home, the Romeike’s were abruptly informed they had four weeks to return to Germany.

Tennessee Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger has introduced private bill H.R. 5423 to stop this deportation from happening and make the Roeikes eligible for an immigrant visa or permanent resident status.

But the Romeikes also need your help!

Please take just a moment to ask your congressional representative to intervene on their behalf. It’s as easy as filling out this form.

HELP NOW

Rallying support for the Romeike family and H.R. 5423 is so important—we need voices from both sides of the aisle speaking out for them.

Will you stand with the Romeikes and ask your representative to support H.R. 5423?

As always, thank you for your continued support of homeschool families and homeschool freedom!

HSLDA passionately advocates for the freedom to homeschool and offers support for every stage of your homeschool journey. To learn more about HSLDA, and various legal issues facing homeschool families, please visit herhttps://hslda.org/e.

Business handshake agreement partnership after the meeting

Get Ready! April & May Homeschool Days at the Capitol!

Capitol Days, Legislative Days, Homeschool Day at the Capitol, Pie Day, and other similar events foster communication between parents and their elected representatives. This is a great opportunity for you to teach your children the importance of the legislative process and help them mature into civic leaders who will help protect American freedoms.

The chart below lists April and May Capitol Days; you can also check your state’s dates here if it’s not listed below.

ColoradoApril 23, 2023
LouisianaMay 1, 2023
MaineMay 7-13, 2023
New YorkMay 8-9, 2023
Texas Lobbying WorkshopApril 5, 2023