Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child: What school environment will their child will spend about 1,000 hours in next year?
Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing your options. You may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding your choices can help you find a school where your child is happy and actively learning. Louisiana families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
First of all, children in Louisiana can choose traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. Did you know that Louisiana spends an average of $12,362 per public school student each year?
In most cases in Louisiana, each district decides whether it will participate in open enrollment. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can choose to send their children to any public school, regardless of their zip code or where the school is located. Open enrollment is a valuable form of public school choice, increasing families’ access to free, public school options. Louisiana parents should check with their local school district if they wish to participate in open enrollment.
You can also choose from more than 140 charter schools. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what community need it serves. For instance, the school might provide a Spanish immersion program or offer a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance. For more information on charter schools in your state, check out the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
Magnet schools are another school choice in Louisiana. These are free public schools that allow kids to focus on specific themes, like science or the performing arts. Louisiana has several magnet schools throughout the state. The East Baton Rouge Parish School System, for instance, has magnet schools allowing students to focus on medicine, visual and performing arts, health sciences, business and governmental affairs, or engineering. If you have a magnet school near you with a theme that interests your child, it could be a great choice for you.
Families in Louisiana can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Louisiana’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from Montessori schools to schools designed for children with special needs. In Louisiana, families can deduct nonpublic educational expenses from their taxes, and families with incomes below a certain level can qualify for state-run scholarships. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter environment to focus, you may want to give virtual school a try. Louisiana students in grades K-12 can attend Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy, an online charter school, full-time. For part-time options, online providers participate in the state’s Supplemental Course Academy program, which offers free classes to students attending underperforming public schools, public schools that do not offer a certain course, or private schools on opportunity scholarships. Students who do not qualify for free classes can take these courses for a fee.
Additionally, Louisiana families looking for an extremely customizable education can choose to homeschool. Homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home, is permitted in all 50 states. Check here for resources about homeschooling specific to Louisiana.
For additional information about school choices in Louisiana, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to sign up for a free box of NSCW supplies for celebrations. Click here for more information.
In 2019, Louisiana celebrated National School Choice Week with a record-breaking 731 events and activities across the state.
"Shining a spotlight on effective educational options for every child"