Louisiana Gov. Jindal, Justice Department in fracas over school vouchers
NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Justice Department sued Louisiana on Saturday to stop the state from distributing school vouchers in any district that remains under a desegregation court order.
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called the department's action “shameful” and said President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents.”
“The Obama administration thinks parents should have to seek their approval any time parents want to send their child to a school of their choice,” Jindal said in a news release. “After generations of being denied a choice, parents finally can choose a school for their child, but now the federal government is stepping in to prevent parents from exercising this right. Shame on them. Parents should have the ability to decide where to send their child to school.”
Louisiana has 70 school districts, and 34 remain under desegregation court orders, many of which are decades old.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the Justice Department said Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to nearly 600 public school students in districts that are still under such orders, and “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.”
The department said Louisiana has given vouchers this school year to students in at least 22 districts remaining under desegregation orders. It's asking the court, starting with the 2014-15 school year, to permanently block the state from awarding vouchers in districts that are under desegregation orders, unless those districts seek court approval.
Louisiana lawmakers approved a voucher program in 2008 for low-income New Orleans students who were in failing schools. The Louisiana Scholarship Program was later expanded statewide. It allows children in school districts graded C, D or F to receive public money to attend private schools.
Jindal called school choice “a moral imperative.”
“Make no mistake — this motion is a threat to the children in our state who only get one chance to grow up and deserve the opportunity to get the best education so they can pursue their dreams,” Jindal said.
A federal desegregation lawsuit for Louisiana was originally filed in 1971 and court papers list the case as closed in 1976. However, there have been several filings in the case in the past several months, including the one by the Justice Department.
In arguing that the voucher program had hurt desegregation efforts, the Justice Department cited an example of Independence Elementary School in Tangipahoa Parish. It said the school lost five white students because of the voucher program, “reinforcing the racial identity of the school as a black school.” It also said Cecilia Primary School in St. Martin Parish School District is a majority-white school in a majority-black district, and it lost six black students because of vouchers, “reinforcing the school's racial identity as a white school.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama signs $607B Defense bill but blasts GOP limits for Gitmo
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- Obama: No credible intelligence about terror plot against US
- Peanut glut poses hefty bailout tab for taxpayers
- Los Angeles-based water agency’s land buy rattles California farmers
- New Hampshire cancer patient gets permission to travel to Maine for medical pot
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Girls outperform boys in variety of subjects, international survey shows
- Feds tell railroads they must meet deadlines for lifesaving technology