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October 7, 2013

DoJ Alleges Segregation in Louisiana Schools

Holder sues Louisiana over vouchers, but his facts aren’t right.

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department initiated a lawsuit against Louisiana, taking issue with the state’s school voucher program. Proponents of the system insist that vouchers have helped desegregate schools while bolstering the broader goal of expanding school choice. The DoJ argues the opposite: They claim Louisiana has “impeded the desegregation process,” referring specifically to 34 of the state’s school systems. However, a new study from the University of Arkansas’ School Choice Demonstration Project isn’t likely to help Holder’s case.

While the study is not an apples-to-apples comparison, “[T]heir finding actually does a much better job than the DOJ did at assessing whether the program is a good thing for desegregation efforts overall,” explains National Review’s Patrick Brennan. “It tries to measure the net impact of the program on integration and segregation, while the DOJ merely identified 34 schools where they say the problem got worse and sued on those grounds, without measuring whether vouchers improved the situation in other places with desegregation orders.”

In short, researchers “find that the vast majority (83 percent) of students transferred reduced the level of segregation at the schools they leave, and the impact on the schools they arrive at is, overall, negligible.” Indeed, this study is similar to other findings that reveal overall positive attributes from districts that take advantage of school vouchers. Children, not agendas, come first when parents’ school choice options expand. But don’t expect this evidence to give Eric Holder second thoughts.

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