Public education in Louisiana

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K-12 Education in Louisiana
State Superintendent: John White
Number of students: 703,390[1]
Number of teachers: 48,657
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:14.5
Number of school districts: 132
Number of schools: 1,437
Graduation rate: 72%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $10,723[3]
See also
Public education in Louisiana
Louisiana Department of Education
Louisiana school districts
List of school districts in Louisiana
The Louisiana public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents.

The Louisiana state constitution requires that the state offer "learning environments and experiences" to all state residents and that "every individual may be afforded an equal opportunity to develop to his full potential."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Louisiana state budget
Louisiana's education costs are 27% of the state budget

The state of Louisiana has an approximately $26.7 billion budget, of that education is approximately $7.17 billion, 26.9% of the state's total budget.[5] As of December 2008, the state was facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit. However, as of February 2009, was facing a lowed than average unemployment rate.[6] Louisisna is slated to receive about $658 million over the next two years for Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade education. According to education officials $206 million will be disbursed to districts through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program.[7]

The cost per pupil is $9,954, ranking 22nd in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[8]

Impact of budget woes

  • On August 20, 2009 State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek announced that he will not accept his 6% pay raise."I didn't think it was appropriate for me to take a raise under the circumstances, " Pastorek said. Without the raise Pastorek's salary and benefits package is estimated at $430,498.54. He is reported to be the highest paid employees in the state.[9]
  • After years of steady growth in financial support, 2009 marked a standstill in state funding for public schools.[9]

Personnel salaries

According to the Louisiana Department of Education, the average beginning teacher, bachelor's degree and no experience, salary in the state for the 2008-2009 school year was $38,523. There was no change from the 2007-2008.[10]

Role of unions

The main unions related to the Louisiana school system are Louisiana Association of Educators(LEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers(LFT). LEA is the largest education association in the state. For the 2003 tax period LEA had: $3.6 million in total revenue, $3.2 million in total expenses and $3.7 million in total assets.[11] LFT had: $1.8 million in total revenue, $2.4 million in total expenses and $826,009 in total assets.[12]

List of local Louisiana school unions:[13]

Recent actions

Louisiana Association of Educators president Joyce Hines called, in late July 2009, for State Superintendent Pastorek's resignation after he announced his support for new regulations for board members.[14] Proposed regulations included removing board members from hiring decisions, strengthening the qualifications needed to become a board member and paying the board less.[15] Hines said,"Over the last two legislative sessions, Superintendent Paul Pastorek has demonstrated his unwillingness to work with educators, legislators and locally elected school board leaders to bring about meaningful education reform." Pastoreck, however, said that he is disappointed by the perceived "attack on public schools" and added that in order to improve the state's education, reform is necessary.[14]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education consists of eight elected members from the eight local districts and three members-at-large appointed by the governor. Board members select a President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer for a term of up to one year. The board is responsible for setting the state's educational initiatives and the education agenda.[16] The superintendent is the administrative head of the Department of Education and is elected for a term of four years.[17]

Board members do not receive a salary, insurance or retirement benefits. They do, however, receive the same stipend provided to state legislators and are reimbursed for board related traveling expenses.[18]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Louisiana government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Louisiana School Boards Association.


On November 12, 2008 Louisiana launched a spending transparency database, Louisiana Transparency & Accountability (LA Trac). LaTrac contains all executive branch spending for the state of Louisiana, including higher education. It also has a vendor search and a link to the performance of state agencies (through LaPAS).


A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave Louisiana: "F" in academic achievement; "C" in truth in advertising about student proficiency; "B" in rigor of standards; "F" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "A" in for its teacher workforce policies; "A" in data quality.[19]


The Louisiana Department of Education created and manages the Scholastic Audit Overview, a review of local schools. Audits specifically cover the learning environment, organizational efficiency, and the academic performance of a school.[20]

  • In April 2009 an audit of four Baton Rouge-area public schools with a history of problems revealed that the schools faired no better than 2-3 years prior. In an attempt to improve the schools, the state removed the four schools from the assigned parish districts and placed them under the control of Advance Baton Rouge, a local non-profit group, and EdisonLearning, a national for-profit group. The schools are reported to be low-performing and have poor learning environments. The four schools include: Capitol High Academy, Glen Oaks Middle School, Pointe Coupee Central High School and Prescott Middle School.[21]

Academic performance

Public schools

The following tables outlines the student performance statistics for 2007-2008 based on the State Subgroup Component Reports (AYP) for students in Elementary, Middle and High School levels in both English Language Arts and Math. The statistics include the percentage of students that scored at a proficient level, the minimum level of academic performance accepted by the No Child Left Behind Act, in reading and math.[22]

English Language Arts:

Grade level 2006-2007 2007-2008
Elementary School 65.0% 67.1%
Middle School 61.2% 61.1%
High School 57.4% 59.2%


Grade level 2006-2007 2007-2008
Elementary School 63.1% 65.7%
Middle School 59.8% 58.9%
High School 64.0% 64.7%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[23] 2011 Education Spending[24] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[25] 2012 Education Spending[26] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[27] 2011 Avg. ACT score[28] 2012 Avg. ACT score[29] 2010 Graduation Rate[30] 2011 Graduation Rate[31]
Louisiana $46.2 billion $11.5 billion 24.8% $46.4 billion $11.9 billion 25.6% 20.1 20.2 20.3 61.3% 64.5%

Charter schools

A report by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed in June 2009 that Louisiana charter schools were equal to traditional public schools in the subjects of reading and math. In later years, however, the study revealed that charter schools scored higher than public schools.[32]

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: were first implemented in 1995 as a pilot program and was later expanded in 1997. There are a total of 5 different types of charter schools. Most charter schools receive funding from the Minimum Foundation Program which goes through the local school board before the school receives the funds. Charters that operate directly under the state board of education receive funds directly from the State Department of Education.[33] In 2009 Louisiana had a total of 65 charter schools. In 2008, lawmakers raised the limit on charter school authorizations in the state from 42 to 70.[34] In 2009, 19 groups sought permission and funding to open 23 charter schools, three of which would be virtual schools.[35]
  • Public school open enrollment: in Louisiana, the state has two open enrollment policies: intra-district and inter-district open enrollment. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district or in any alternative district in the state.[36]
  • Online learning: the state of Louisiana offers online learning for high school students via a state-led program, the Louisiana Virtual School, a partnership with The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. In the 2007-2008 school year, Louisiana had approximately 5,800 courses. The 2008-2009 school year marked the 9th year for the program.[37]

External links

Additional reading


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Louisiana Constitution,"Article VIII: Education," accessed September 1, 2009
  5. State of Louisiana,"FY 2009-2010 Budget," accessed July 28, 2009
  6. The News-Star,"La. has healthy unemployment fund at $1.4B,"February 10,2009
  7. Louisiana Department of Education,"ARRA, Louisiana Overview," accessed September 2, 2009
  8. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Times-Picayune,"State education chief says he'll turn down pay raise," August 20, 2009
  10. Louisiana Department of Education,"2008-2009 Annual Teacher Salary Schedule," April 2009
  11. Center for Union Facts,"Louisiana Association of Educators," accessed September 1, 2009
  12. Center for Union Facts,"Louisiana Federation of Teachers," accessed September 1, 2009
  13. Center for Union Facts,"Louisiana teachers unions," accessed September 1, 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Times-Picayune,"Paul Pastorek, Louisiana state superintendent of schools, should go, a teachers union says," July 24, 2009
  15. The Times-Picayune,"La. Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek wants to rein in local school board powers," February 4, 2009
  16. Louisiana Department of Education,"Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary Education," accessed July 28, 2009
  17. Louisiana Constitution,"Article VIII, Section 2," accessed September 1, 2009
  18. Louisiana Department of Education,"BESE:history and structure," accessed July 28, 2009
  19. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"Louisiana Education Report Card," accessed November 17, 2009
  20. Louisiana Department of Education,"Educational Improvement and Assistance," accessed September 2, 2009
  21. The Advocate,"School audits: Little improvement reported," August 17, 2009
  22. Louisiana Department of Education,"2007 - 2008 State of Louisiana Subgroup Component," Spring 2009
  23. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  24. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  25. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  26. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  27. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  28. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  29. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  30. National Center for Education Statistics
  31. National Center for Education Statistics
  32. Stanford University:Center for Research on Education Outcomes,"Charter School Performance in 16 States," June 2009
  33. Louisiana Department of Education,"Charter School Overview," accessed July 28, 2009
  34. Louisiana Department of Education,"National study finds Louisiana's schools outperform traditional public schools," June 18, 2009
  35. Daily World,"Charter school seeks permission to open," September 1, 2009
  36. The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in Louisiana," accessed September 1, 2009
  37. Louisiana Virtual School,"LVS Information," accessed September 1, 2009