New Scholarships to Boost Education in New Orleans

NOLAAccess to quality education is key for the country now, and while many organizations are still theorizing; others are taking action to create better avenues.?Enrollment for the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (SSEE) will begin on March 15, 2011, and officials with the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options (Louisiana BAEO) expect high demand for the scholarships, with hundreds of parents expected to apply.?In fact, more than 1,000 New Orleans children are eligible to receive state-funded scholarships to attend private schools next school year (2011-2012).

The program, which provides an educational lifeline to low-income children who otherwise would be forced to attend failing public schools, has met with great success. The 2011-2012 school year will be the fourth year of operation for the highly popular SSEE program. ??

Parents can apply to enroll their children in the scholarship program at the Lindy Boggs Conference Center beginning Tuesday, March 15, 2011 to Saturday, March 19, 2011. Doors open at 8am on Tuesday.? To qualify for the program, a family must reside in Orleans Parish. In addition, the student’s household income cannot exceed 250 percent of the 2011 federal poverty guideline ($46,325 for a family of three, $55,875 for a family of four, $65,425 for a family of five, and $74,985 for a family of six). The SSEE program offers state-funded scholarships of up to $7,562. ?????????????????????

??”We encourage all parents who want to give their children the gift of a brighter future to seriously consider this program and to apply as early in the week as possible,” said Shree’ Medlock, state director of the Louisiana BAEO. “This program has a parental satisfaction rate of 93 percent, and we’re confident that there will be significant demand for scholarships this year.”?????

Shana Johnson Burton, general education program director at Virginia College in Macon, GA feels strong about the opportunity.?”I think that it can be a great initiative that benefits the whole community,” she says.?”Unfortunately, public school systems are failing a lot of our low-income students, especially Black students. ?As an educator myself, it’s hard for me to admit that, but it’s true. If public schools continue to lose students to private schools, the trickle down effect will be a loss in student population in public schools, which leads to a loss in federal and state funding, and, eventually, a loss in teaching and administrative positions. When educators start to see their jobs slipping away, they may be inclined to work a little harder to ensure that all students receive a quality education. I fully support anything that benefits students and will help them succeed and be competitive in this global market.

The SSEE program, which was enacted with strong bipartisan support in 2008, provides scholarships for 1,697 children to attend 33 private schools this year. ??

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