Louisiana to push ahead with paying private firms to teach kids

Stephanie Simon:

Louisiana’s schools chief vowed on Friday to push ahead with a plan to let students take classes from private firms and nonprofits at taxpayers’ expense, despite a legal setback and objections from some educators.
The Course Choice plan, which goes far beyond any other U.S. school program in letting families customize a child’s education, had been thrown into doubt after the state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Louisiana could not divert money meant for public schools to private organizations.
State Superintendent of Education John White said he would fund the program – which was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature in 2012 – from his department’s general budget instead, squeezing out an estimated $2 million by cutting back expenses such as staff travel.
Under the program, kindergarten through 12th grade students can sign up for free classes on scores of topics, ranging from remedial reading to heavy equipment operation. The classes, both online and in person, are offered by an eclectic lineup of unions, nonprofits and for-profit companies. The state picks up the tab, which averages $700 per class.
“The purpose of Course Choice is to provide every family in Louisiana with an education that meets the exact needs and interests of their child,” White said.