Jindal suggests public-school-free district is not the answer

NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who as of this week governs over the nation's first public-school-free district in this city, stopped shy Thursday of saying the all-charter school approach is right.

Jindal, who has made charter schools and education reform a centerpiece of his national portfolio and his gubernatorial tenure, said in his speech to the Republican Leadership Conference that he would like for parents to have all choices available -- including traditional public schools.

Asked later whether he thinks the Recovery School District should open new public schools after the existing ones close, Jindal didn't respond directly. He praised the district's successes in recent years and said he agrees with their decisions, but he suggested more options for parents would be better.

"I’d like to see parents to have choices," Jindal said. "If that’s what parents want, they should have choices.”

Jindal added that charter schools aren't always going to succeed.

"If they’re not, they should have alternatives," Jindal said.

The Recovery School District, which took over almost all of the city's public schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, closed its last five public schools this week. About nine in 10 children in New Orleans attend charter schools.

Read more: "In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good"

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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Aaron Blake · May 29, 2014