Let us home the students win in Court on November 30th, and not the handful of bullies in Newport and Croydon that started this mess or the bullies in Concord. The following piece appears in full on Investor's Business Daily website.
Louisiana School Kids, 1; Obama's Anti-School-Choice Fanatics, 0
If the Obama administration and its union allies put as much creativity into ensuring quality education as they do into lawsuits against providers of school choice, we might have public schools worthy enough to end interest in vouchers.
Their latest effort against Louisiana's African-American educators and parents in favor of vouchers to private schools was a doozy.
Insisting it was concerned only with upholding court-ordered desegregation orders from 40 years ago, the Justice Department tried to take over and derail Louisiana's Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Act, a voucher program established by the legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2012.
The DOJ feared that awarding vouchers to children in failing schools might bring back Jim Crow. Seems that some Louisiana districts are still under a 1975 desegregation order against state-subsidized private schools.
The Justice Department contended the vouchers could tip schools' racial balance. But an outside expert found zero evidence of this. Moreover, the law stipulates the vouchers are for students in failing public schools, and in fact 85% to 90% have gone to blacks.
An angry Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals called the DOJ's approach "disingenuous."
She wrote: "The current Louisiana voucher program is best characterized as aid to poor children rather than aid to private schools. Therefore, (the DOJ argument) is outside the jurisdiction of this case."
"It's rare that you see a judge refer to a Justice Department action as disingenuous," said Clint Bolick, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute. He represented the Black Alliance for Education Options, a group that joined with parents to fight the DOJ's attempt to take over the voucher program. "The purpose of the desegregation court order 40 years ago was to secure educational opportunity for black kids. The purpose of the voucher program is the same. To use the one to thwart the other is disingenuous."
What was the DOJ's plan of action? "Burdensome, costly and endless" red tape, as Judge Jones put it.
The Justice Department insisted that before any voucher was awarded, the state would have to submit information such as student names, ID numbers, addresses, zoned school districts, previous public schools, grades, races and detailed school histories.
Such a process is ripe for intimidation, Bolick said, given the vulnerability of the families and the fact that only half the 10,000 applicants get vouchers.
"Parents were desperate to get their kids better education," Bolick said. " None was available to them, and for them the conditions were no better than the Jim Crow era. This program gave them for the first time safe, high-quality schools."
Priority is given to kids from the D and F schools, as well as to families with the fewest resources, he said. "It's the only voucher program in the country that requires a kid to have a low income and attend a low-performing school to get in. In that regard, it's the most remedial in the country, limited to poor kids and limited to poor schools."
Gov. Jindal, who has introduced many educational reforms in Louisiana, opposed the Justice Department's involvement but wasn't as effective as the parents and educators were with their lawsuit, Bolick said.
"What the state didn't do was what we did — challenge court authority to enter any orders against the voucher program in the first place," he said. "That's the issue on which we won."