The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a new set of academic standards Tuesday for private schools participating in Louisiana's expanded voucher program. By a vote of 9-2, the 11-member panel, known as BESE, adopted a plan proposed by state Superintendent John White that will require private schools to hit roughly the same academic bar that public schools do in order to continue accepting more students through the program. The new standards apply to schools with 40 or more voucher students in grades that include standardized tests.
The plan sparked angry commentary from teachers union officials and heated debate among BESE members, with Lottie Beebe, from St. Martin Parish, and Carolyn Hill, from Baton Rouge, twice trying to put off the decision until White could come back with tougher standards. Hill compared the board's vote to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, warning that "evil is going to arise" from the board's decision.