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    Louisiana Supreme Court Issues Ruling That Is a Setback for School Choice

    School choice received a blow in Louisiana today when the Supreme Court deemed funding for vouchers unconstitutional. Last April, Governor Bobby Jindal expanded school choice, including scholarships offered for up to 5,600 students for the current school year. More than 10,000 students applied for 5,600 spots in private and religious schools this year, and were selected by a lottery. The program was set to be expanded next year with nearly 8,000 students approved for vouchers with more scholarships expected to be approved in June. These are all students from low to moderate-income families who would otherwise attend poorly performing public schools. 

    The plaintiffs in the case included the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana School Boards Association, and the vote was 6-1. Justice John Weimer, one of the majority votes, wrote "The state funds approved through the unique MFP process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific and unambiguous language of the constitution." This ruling, which cannot be appealed to the US Supreme Court,  does not shut down the school voucher program, just the funding mechanism for the program. This means that the children currently attending alternative schools will not be forced out, but a workaround needs to be found for funding. 

    Just last month, Jindal spoke out in support of school vouchers in Louisiana, saying that vouchers provide help for "low-income kids that are trapped in failing schools,” ensuring "better academic results." Now, the thousands of students relying on scholarships find their education in peril.  Jindal is expected to keep fighting for funding, as he is passionate about reforming the system and is determined that underprivileged and minority children have the opportunity to succeed. Other options for funding and expanded school choice are in the early stages, but Jindal is not likely to give up, according to former Jindal campaign manager Phillip Stutts.

     

    What do educators have to say about this blow to better education? According to, Stutts, who was on-site today, teachers’ union members were seen giving high-fives around the Louisiana state capitol building.

    With the education of our children in the hands of “educators” like these, isn’t it time parents got to make some decisions? Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White agrees. In a statement issued today, he stated that “on the most important aspect of the law, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of families. The Scholarship Program will continue, and thousands of Louisiana families will continue to have the final say in where to send their children to school. Nearly 93 percent of scholarship families report that they love their school, and we will work with the Legislature to find another funding source to keep parents and kids in these schools.” So, while school choice suffered a setback in Louisiana today, committed reformers will continue to work so that families and students will win in the end.

    3 comments
    stonestone's picture
    stone stone
    05/07/2013

    Good. This represents a win for the American people.

    jamcolo46's picture
    jamcolo46
    03/10/2014

    Louisiana wants to use tax payers money to teach kids the earth is flat does not move and is 6000 years old.

    Chris Powers
    05/07/2013

    Appeal it to a higher court. Do not let this stand.

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