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November 25, 2013

Village Academic Curriculum: Feds Try Different Anti-Voucher Tactic

DoJ drops opposition to Louisiana program. Sort of.

While at first glance it seemed like Eric Holder’s Justice Department was giving Louisiana students a break by dropping the request for a permanent injunction against the state’s voucher program, they instead are trying to bog down the process by reviewing each and every application. This is the opinion of Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who remarked on the change of tactics that “[t]he Department of Justice’s new position is that it wants bureaucrats in Washington to decide where Louisiana children get an education.”

The federal government sued in August to stop Louisiana’s two-year-old voucher program, claiming it ran afoul of a 1975 anti-discrimination injunction against the state. This is despite the fact that 90% of the 8,000 beneficiaries chosen by lottery are low-income minority students who get the opportunity to move from a poor-performing school to a better one.

Why? Follow the money. Funding that would have gone to a recipient’s former school goes to the new school, and private schools are among those eligible for funding. That didn’t sit well with the state’s teachers union, which fought the program at the state level all the way to its highest court. The Louisiana Supreme Court allowed the program, but did not allow funding to come from the state’s education budget so these vouchers are funded as a state budget line item.

Given the union-friendly slant of the present administration, it was only a matter of time before Washington intervened on the union’s behalf. The process will only discourage those who want to improve their child’s prospects when faced with the prospect of a 45-day hold before the Justice Department allows the state to notify the scholarship recipient. “The obvious purpose of the gag order would be to prevent parents from learning that the Department of Justice might try to take their child’s scholarship away if it decides that the child is the wrong race,” Jindal concluded.

With more states either enacting or considering similar programs, it’s clear Holder’s brand of justice is simply to make an example of Louisiana and protect threatened teacher’s unions in the process.

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