Parents express excitement, concerns about vouchers

Krystal and Azariah Nixon
Krystal and Azariah Nixon

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's now a waiting game for parents who applied to the voucher program, as they hope for the news their child was accepted into it. But, getting the voucher isn't the only challenge left ahead in the program.

Azariah Nixon is a bright 6-year-old with a talent for playing the drums, but his mother worries his underperforming school is hurting his potential.

"I don't think it was pushing him enough education wise, so I wanted to get him in a better school, in a better education," said Krystal Nixon, the boy's mother.

Nixon is one of the many parents who applied for the voucher program, with hopes her son could be educated at Holy Ghost Catholic School near their home.

"I want what's best for my child and I want him to have every and anything his heart desires," added Nixon, who is taking college classes herself.

While the suit looking to block the use of education dollars to fund private school vouchers was rejected, voucher advocates say there is still a challenge ahead.

"The time constraints are a concern, but I think if we work towards the common goal that kids have a better learning environment, then we'll be fine," said Eric Lewis, state director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

With school starting soon and vouchers scheduled to go out in August, there are still major aspects of the voucher program that aren't in place. Officials with Department of Education have little time to lay out full qualifications for participating schools and to determine the guidelines for the program.

"The determining factors in a school's interest in the program, how we measure the success of kids once they're at the schools. Those are things left up to the department of education through the legislation," Lewis added.

Nixon said she is always concerned with the quality of education available to her son. She said she did research before choosing Holy Ghost Catholic School.

"I believe the Department of Education has maybe a month or so remaining before they have to put those rules in place. We're hopeful that whatever those rules are that it ensures that kids have the opportunity to attend high quality schools," Lewis explained.

However, advocates say the children who need the vouchers cannot wait any longer.

"We have to start it at some point. When you talk to parents, parents can't another 180 days to get something in place. It's a matter of emergency, honestly," said Lewis.

According to the BAEO director, currently, the only qualification for schools in the voucher program is that the schools meet Board of Elementary and Secondary Education standards, as well as the nondiscrimination requirements of Brumfield vs. Dodd.

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