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Private school parents questioning state's plan to offer free ACT test

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BATON ROUGE-  Some people are upset over a new initiative in Louisiana to use taxpayer dollars to pay for every high school junior to take a college entrance exam for free.

The move, costing $2 million a year, will be paid for from the State Department of Education's budget, in the place of contracts the department has canceled.  

The offer is one free ACT test, to be given at school, for every 11th grader in public school, leaving private school students without a chance for the same opportunity.  Some kids can actually get more than one free shot if their families face dire financial situations.

"Every child deserves the chance to have a choice between college and career and that's what giving every child the ACT is all about," said State Superintendent  of Schools John White.

But parents of kids who aren't getting that chance, because they attend private schools, are iffy about the idea.

Mia Williams said, "I want to help people because we are supposed to help people but we have to take care of our own children."

Other parents, and people in general, weighed-in heavily on the issue on News 2's Facebook page, the majority against the move.

Viewer Kristen said, "It should be free to every high school student, not just public school, and if my tax dollars are paying for it, I don't see why it would not be."

Facebook Fan James said, "I agree with it.  We pay for everything else with our hard-earned tax dollars, why not help out our children."

"It should be an option," said Facebook Fan Crystal, "To those who have the GPA required to go to college, have taken all the necessary classes required to get into college, and who have a serious desire to go to college and succeed.  Don't waste money on those who don't wanna go to college," she said.

State Superintendent John White says the testing will help the state measure performance, and know whether students are college-ready, or career-driven, and he thinks private school parents wanting the same opportunity is a compliment.

He said, "Part of the nature of a private school is its private, they have their own private plans and I think private schools by and large in our state do a good job of administering the ACT, but I'm glad to hear that people want what it is that we're providing I think it's a good plan and we're proud of it."

Public school students that take advantage of the new voucher program, which will use taxpayer dollars to pay for them to go to private schools, also get the free ACT testing.

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