Legislation this Session Could Improve Education Policies

When it comes to education legislation this session, the stars of the show are the proposals to create universal Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to provide more school choice options for parents. Those bills continue to move through the process, and we will have a more complete look at those shortly.

But in the meantime, there are other bills that might not be taking the limelight but seek to address a number of issues of importance in improving educational outcomes, increasing educational attainment, expanding other school choice opportunities, and meeting critical workforce needs.

These bills don’t rise to the level of sweeping reforms like the ESA bills or other major legislation like we sometimes have seen in the past, but many are significant. They include a substantive update of Louisiana’s charter school laws, expansion of a relatively new financial aid program for adults in the workforce, and targeted initiatives to improve early math skills.

If this legislation is approved and funded, this session could very well be seen as a significant one for education, beyond the major changes that the broad availability of ESAs would bring.

Charter Schools

  • HB 78 & SB 47: Permit eligible charter schools working with community and corporate partnerships to apply directly to BESE for approval and in doing so serve a wider number of students beyond the confines of a single school district.
  • HB 708: Removes the unique quota requirements that are in current law which mandate that charter schools enroll a certain percentage of students with exceptionalities and economically disadvantaged students. It replaces the quotas with more enforceable enrollment safeguards to help ensure that all types of students are being served.
  • SB 316 : Extends initial authorization of charter schools from four to five years, initial review from three to four years, and makes some changes to the charter renewal process. This will give charter schools a more reasonable amount of time to demonstrate that they are showing progress with students who are struggling in their studies.
  • SB 321: Creates a fund within the Department of Education where revenues raised (through appropriations, grants, donations, etc.) can be distributed as low-interest loans to charter schools to fund various start-ups, facility, equipment and other needs to expand charter school seats.
  • SB 350 & 362: Provide a much-needed update to Louisiana’s charter school law, remove outmoded language, and more clearly define what charter school “autonomy” means.

Literacy, Numeracy & Tutoring

  • HB 244: Expands the grade eligibility, generally to 12th grade, for students to participate in the Steve Carter Literacy Program. It also increases funds available to parents for additional tutoring from $1,000-$1,500 and expands the program to include math.
  • HB 267: Provides for numeracy screeners, interventions, curricula, parent reporting, and improvement plans in grades K-3 to ensure that students have mastered foundational math skills in the early grades. It is similar to the current program to enhance early reading skills, which to date has proven highly successful.
  • SB 288 : Defines what “high-dosage tutoring” means with respect to an existing program aimed to help students who have not reached the level of “Mastery” in various subject areas. It also expands the program to serve all students in grades K-12, instead of just elementary and middle school. Funding for the program has been subject to appropriation or the availability of federal funds.


  • HB 728: Lowers the age eligibility for participation in the M.J. Foster Promise Award program from 21 to 17. While the M.J. Foster program is primarily focused on providing skills training for adults, this will provide some additional level of financial aid for students in high school.
  • HB 862: Gives higher education management boards more flexibility to provide for differential tuition amounts for professional and graduate programs and undergraduate programs that are determined to be “high-cost.” Typically, these are expensive programs for institutions to offer, but are important for meeting the state’s workforce needs.
  • SB 272 : Increases the annual expenditure cap in the M.J. Foster Promise Award program from $10.5 to $40 million and caps the amount available to proprietary schools to 25% of the total. Funding for this program is subject to appropriation, but under current law if funds from other sources became available above the $10.5 million cap, they could not be spent.
  • SB 293: Provides that the Louisiana Workforce Commission will coordinate the delivery of business workforce solutions through the various workforce and educational agencies of the state.

To be sure, there are some troubling pieces of legislation, as there always are. But this slate of bills, though not as sweeping as we sometimes see, offers the promise of improving several education policies for the benefit of our students and those who need further skills training to contribute to the wellbeing of our state.

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