Main | Sunday, December 02, 2012

LOUISIANA: Private School Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional

On Friday a state judge ruled that Louisiana's school voucher program is unconstitutional. The program allows parents to use public funding to send their children to private and religious schools.
Governor Bobby Jindal, who had championed the program, called the ruling "wrong-headed" and "a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education." Jindal, a Republican, vowed to appeal.

While State District Judge Tim Kelley ruled the voucher program unconstitutional, he did not issue an immediate injunction to stop it. The 5,000 students currently receiving vouchers will be able to continue attending their private schools pending an appeal, state officials said. "We are optimistic this decision will be reversed," said John White, state superintendent of education.

But Kelley's ruling is not the only challenge facing the voucher program. Earlier this week, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled that the program had the potential to disrupt the region's court-ordered efforts to desegregate public schools. The judge issued a temporary injunction halting the use of vouchers in Tangipahoa Parish over concern that the program was siphoning off state dollars needed to implement the desegregation plan.
The above-linked story notes that Louisiana's GOP-dominated legislature is considering a "work-around" in which special funding for private schools would be allocated separately from the general education budget.

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