Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

School Vouchers: What Louisiana can Learn from Chile

By Ludovico Feoli

In light of Governor Jindal’s proposal to vastly expand Louisiana’s school voucher system it might be useful to consider the track record of similar programs elsewhere. To that effect, Chile’s experience might be informative. Starting in the 1980s that country implemented the world’s farthest reaching neoliberal reform of education. The Pinochet regime intended to revolutionize vast spheres of Chilean society by replacing professional and bureaucratic organization with market forces. In a nutshell, the logic behind educational choice was that the freedom of voucher-bearing parents to select schools would create competitive forces, generating incentives for schools to improve their performance, reduce their costs, and introduce greater innovation. Did it work?

While the evidence is complex, analysts suggest that “The Chilean reforms of the 1980s were not practicable, did not turn education upside down, and did not dramatically improve school performance” (Gauri 1998, 103). The reforms did not reduce inequalities in education: most poor children attend public schools, which have lower performance than private schools and are more poorly funded, due to their inability to charge tuition or surcharges, both of which are open to their private counterparts (Levin 2011, 74; Economist 2011). The reforms did not improve performance either. While standardized scores have improved in Chile over time, it is more likely to have been as a result of improvement efforts spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, not market forces. Scores are better in Chile than they are in other Latin American countries, but they are well below the OECD average and show high variability relative to student background. In fact, what vouchers do seem to have accomplished is a redistribution of pupils with better-educated parents from public to private schools. And while private subsidized schools seem to have lower costs than the public schools, this may be due to their free riding on the public education system—by not taking special needs students, and by hiring teachers already employed in nearby public schools as part-time faculty (Carnoy 1998). The prolonged student protests that have paralyzed the country in past months are testament to a widespread discontent with the educational system.

While it is clear that there are many institutional and even cultural differences between the education systems in the United States and Chile, these results should at the very least call for caution. As Gauri (1998) suggests, there are several lessons that can be drawn from this experience for a broader context. First, it is illusory to believe that markets will replace bureaucrats. To be sure, bureaucracies tend towards hypertrophy and can be paragons of inefficiency. But markets are also plagued by imperfections, like asymmetries of information, which allow parents that are better informed about school quality and performance, usually the more affluent, to reap greater rewards from the voucher system. Leveling the playing field by evaluating and disseminating educational achievement, and keeping schools financially accountable, requires increased regulation and state intervention. This points to an ironic paradox inherent in such market liberalizing reforms.

Second, markets are not immune to politics. If vouchers lead students away from existent public schools their remaining constituents—teachers, parents, staff, students, neighbors—will resist closures, creating political unrest and impeding cost reductions. Moreover, the complexity of educational reform is such that policies cannot be imposed by fiat. Not even the Pinochet regime could override longstanding traditions tied to the influence of teachers. There is no universal model that fits the needs of every community. Parents differ in their priorities and they are often willing to trade other aspects, like safety, convenience, day care, and instruction in religious or moral codes, for some degree of academic achievement or educational innovation (Gauri 1998, 105). Deliberation and consensus building are crucial for the success of educational policy.

While the Louisiana voucher expansion has been presented as a ticket for children to escape from failing public schools, the Chilean precedent warns against expecting this to emerge solely from market forces. Unfortunately, this expectation seems to be at the heart of the proposal given its broad eligibility requirements for students and its lax eligibility requirements for schools. Under the proposed rules students in more than 70% of Louisiana’s schools (55% of the public school students) would be eligible for vouchers (BGR 2012). At the same time, virtually all private schools meeting minimal requirements for operation could accept them. What is to prevent a student from entering a worse private school than the public one she is exiting? In the absence of regulations the assumption must be that the demand for quality education will draw parents to the best performing schools. Yet, this in turn assumes the existence of perfect information—available, intelligible, and unambiguous—which the new legislation makes no effort to impose. As the case of Chile exemplifies, an active administration is inevitable: to assure vouchers go only to those students who need them; to control that only highly qualified private schools can accept those students; to measure educational achievement in schools and to make the results widely available to parents; and to keep schools accountable for their educational and financial results over time.

The Chilean case, where tuition vouchers have been more extensively tried than anywhere, shows that private schools are not necessarily better than public ones, and that competition between public and private schools will not necessarily raise the quality of education or reduce its costs. “For those concerned with the quality and cost of education in the United States, the answers lie elsewhere” (Carnoy 1998).
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BGR. Making Choice Right: Can Private School Vouchers Live Up to Their Promises? (March 2012).
Carnoy, Martin. “Do Vouchers Improve Education?” Dollars & Sense, no. 216 (1998): 24-27.
Gauri, Varun. School Choice in Chile: Two Decades of Educational Reform. Pitt Latin American Series. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.
Levin, Ben. “Chile, Latin America, and Inequality in Education.” Phi Delta Kappan 93, no. 2 (2011): 74-75.
“We Want the World; Education in Chile.” The Economist 400, no. 8746 (2011): 36.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ludovico Feoli

    Executive Director - Center for Inter-American Policy & Research

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Day of the Dead with the LPO: Pan American Life Fiesta Sinfonica: La Triste Historia

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The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), in association with Pan American Life, will celebrate Day of the Dead through a multimedia concert experience entitled “La Triste Historia.” Renowned Mexican composer Juan Trigos, director Ben Young Mason, and executive producer Duncan Copp have paired Juan Trigos' evocative Symphony No. 3 with an artistic and fantastical animated film. Follow the tragic, dream-like tale of two young lovers, set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, culminating in the celebration of The Day of the Dead.

Featured Musical Pieces:
Juan Trigos: Symphony No. 3
Carlos Chavez: Symphony No. 2 “Sinfonia India”
Alberto Ginastera: Four Dances from Estancia
Jose Pablo Moncayo: Huapango

For more information or to purchase tickets please visit the LPO Website.

Day of the Dead - New Orleans 2014

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Celebrate Day of the Dead across New Orleans with family activities, altars, K-12 teacher workshops, and musical performances.

K-12 Teacher Workshops and Resources

Exploring the Tradition of Day of the Dead in the Art Classroom
Tuesday October 7, 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St.
Pre-registration required: Registration Page
A Stone Center co-sponsored event

Altars

Algiers Regional Public Library
3014 Holiday Drive
www.neworleanspubliclibrary.org
A Stone Center co-sponsored event

Casa Borrega
1719 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
www.casaborrega.com

Mahalia Jackson Theater
1419 Basin St.
www.lpomusic.com

New Orleans Healing Center
2372 St. Claude Avenue
www.neworleanshealingcenter.org

Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp Street
www.ogdenmuseum.org

Public Events

Day of the Dead Family Workshop
Saturday, October 11, 10 AM – 12 PM
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp Street
Registration Required

Ogden After Hours
Thursday, October 30, 6 – 8 PM
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp Street
Tickets Required

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra presents La Triste Historia
Saturday, November 1, 7:30 PM
Mahalia Jackson Theater
419 Basin Street
Tickets Required
Pre-concert activities begin at 6 PM; the concert begins at 7:30 PM
A Stone Center co-sponsored event

2014 Day of the Dead programs across New Orleans are sponsored by the following organizations and businesses: Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans, Casa Borrega, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Pan American Life, the Foundation for Entertainment, Development, and Education, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Healing Center, and Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

An Evening With Two Francophone-Creolophone Authors

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From 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed on Quisqueya Island, to the period 1791-1804,which marked the emergence and manifestation of self-consciousness by African bondsmen who revolted against their subjugation by the colonial empires, the Caribbean region has not only been the theater of a power struggle among European countries but also an arena where African and European languages and cultures intersect, entice, and repel each other, producing heteroglossic speech communities that have become more or less diglossic speech communities.

Modern-day Caribbean islanders, particularly those who use Creole as their native tongue and French as their lingua franca, still deal with the language issue in different spheres of social practice as well as in literature. Such linguistic heritage is a direct manifestation of colonialism.

The manner in which francophone/creolophone Caribbean writers take up the issue of language in their writings remains a topic that endures as we think about languages in that region.

It is in this context that Mr. Anderson Dovilas and Ms. Fabienne Kanor, two francophone Caribbean authors, respectively from Haiti and Martinique/France, will help us further address this question as they discuss their works produced in Haitian Creole and in French.

Born in Orléans, France, of Martinican parents, Fabienne Kanor is an award-winning writer and the author of four novels, including Les Chiens ne font pas des chats (2008) and Anticorps (2010), as well as the children's novel Le Jour où la mer a disparu (2008). She received the Fetkann Award for her novel D'Eaux Douces (2004), and and the RFO Literary Award for Humus (2006).

Anderson Dovilas was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 02, 1985. This young author has published in France, in the US, and in Canada. He has attended the State University of Haiti where he studied Linguistic and a minor in Ethnology. He is a Poet-activist, a cultural Journalist, a playwright, and an actor. Dovilas, has participated, collaborated, and organized several cultural events; and often organized street performances to rein-act the history of his battered country, to create social activities, to educate and entertain.

REFRESHMENTS WILL FOLLOW

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Marky Jean-Pierre
Béatrice Germaine

Sponsored by
Department of French & Italian at Tulane University
Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University
Consulate General of France in New Orleans

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Tempo Transfigurado: A talk by Graciela Speranza

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Tempo Transfigurado
by Graciela Speranza

Arturo Sotomayor: The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper, Lecture on November 7 at 4pm

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Please join us for a lecture by Dr. Arturo Sotomayor, assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Sotomayor will present his newest book The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper: Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper reevaluates how United Nations peacekeeping missions reform (or fail to reform) their participating members. It investigates how such missions affect military organizations and civil-military relations as countries transition to a more democratic system. Sotomayor's evaluation of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay's involvement in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti reinforces his final analysis – that successful democratic transitions must include a military organization open to change and a civilian leadership that exercises its oversight responsibilities.

Arturo Sotomayor is an assistant professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in Monterey, California. His areas of interest include civil-military relations in Latin America; UN Peacekeeping participation by South American countries; Latin American comparative foreign policy, and nuclear policy in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. His publications have appeared in Security Studies, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Latin American Politics and Society, Hemisphere, Nonproliferation Review and other edited volumes. He is the author of The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper: Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations (Johns Hopkins Press, 2014) and co-editor of Mexico's Security Failure (Routledge, 2011). Before joining the NPS in 2009, Sotomayor taught at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) in Mexico City, and was a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR) at Tulane University. He received his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Columbia University and his B.A. degree in international relations from the Technological Autonomous Institute of Mexico (ITAM).

For flyer, click here.

The Guantánamo Public Memory Project

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The Guantánamo Public Memory Project seeks to build public awareness of the long history of the US naval station at Guantánamo, Bay, Cuba, and foster dialogue on the future of this place and the policies it shapes.

Steered from Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Project is being developed by a growing collaboration of universities, organizations, and individuals. It was first launched in 2009 from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Support for the Project has come from National Dialogue and Traveling exhibit partners, the Libra Foundation, the New York Council on the Humanities, and the Open Society Foundations.

National Dialogue & Traveling Exhibit
The Project's first traveling exhibit opened in New York City at NYU's Kimmel Center for University Life Windows Gallery on December 13, 2012 and is traveling to 17 sites across the country and internationally through at least 2015. The exhibit explores GTMO's history from US occupation in 1898 to today's debates and visions for its future. It was created through a unique collaboration among a growing number of universities from around the country by student curators, communities, and people with first-hand experience at GTMO, who raised difficult questions and addressed them from diverse perspectives. The exhibit is accompanied by public dialogues in each host community. Join the National Dialogue.

The Guantánamo Public Memory Project in New Orleans
SEPTEMBER 2 – NOVEMBER 26, 2014

Exhibit in New Orleans at Tulane University with special events on campus and at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

September 2 – October 30, 2014

Exhibit is free and open to the public from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

TULANE UNIVERSITY
6801 Freret Avenue
Jones Hall 204

Special Events:

  • September 18
    6:00 PM
    Guantánamo Post-9/11: Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Modern America
  • October 16
    6:00 PM
    Angola and Guantánamo: Art and Incarceration
  • October 30
    6:00 PM
    Guantánamo: Cuban and Haitian Refugee Stories

November 5 – November 26, 2014

ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
(Please see website for detailed event information: www.ashecac.org)

Special Events:

  • November 7
    Performance Excerpts by Kesha McKey
  • November 8
    Evening Performance with ArtSpot Productions & The Graduates
  • November 14
    The Farm: Life Inside Angola Film Screening
  • November 15
    Central City Fest

Sponsored by Tulane University’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute, African and African Diaspora Studies, The Murphy Institute, the Altman Program, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, Center for Public Service, Center for Engaged Learning & Teaching, Newcomb College Institute, Honors Program, Department of History, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, The University of New Orleans’ Latin American Studies Department, CubaNOLA Arts Collective, and the Jefferson Muslim Association.

For more information about the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, please visit gitmomemory.org. For more information about the main exhibit at Tulane University, please contact jlipman@tulane.edu.

For resources for K-12 teachers, click here.