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U.S. government sues to block vouchers in some Louisiana school systems

Posted by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:14 AM
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U.S. government sues to block vouchers in some Louisiana school systems

Gov Bobby Jindal Voucher Rally.jpg
Gov. Bobby Jindal shakes hands at a pro-voucher rally on the Capitol steps on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. On Aug. 22, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition to limit automatic participation in vouchers for districts operating under desegregation orders. (Quincy Hodges, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Danielle Dreilinger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Danielle Dreilinger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on August 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM, updated August 24, 2013 at 8:38 PM





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The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana in New Orleans federal court to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders. The first year of private school vouchers "impeded the desegregation process," the federal government says.

Thirty-four school systems could be affected, including those of Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes. Under the lawsuit, the state would be barred from assigning students in those systems  to private schools unless a federal judge agreed to it. A court hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 19.

The statewide voucher program, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, lets low-income students in public schools graded C, D or F attend private schools at taxpayer expense. This year, 22 of the 34 systems under desegregation orders are sending some students to private schools on vouchers.

Last year, at least 570 students were affected; the program has expanded since then. The federal petition would require the state to analyze this year's vouchers to see how they affected school desegregation. (Read the petition.)

The Justice Department's primary argument is that letting students leave for vouchered private schools can disrupt the racial balance in public school systems that desegregation orders are meant to protect. Those orders almost  always set rules for student transfers with the school system.

Federal analysis found that last year's Louisiana vouchers increased racial imbalance in 34 historically segregated public schools in 13 systems. The Justice Department goes so far as to charge that in some of those schools, "the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward integration."

In Tangipahoa Parish, for instance, Independence Elementary School lost five white students to voucher schools, the petition states. The consequent change in the percent of enrolled white students "reinforc(ed) the racial identity of the school as a black school."

While the federal petition would let courts approve vouchers in those school systems next year, Brian Blackwell, attorney for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said it likely would take a lot of time, effort and evidence to persuade the judges.

State Education Superintendent John White took issue with the suit's primary argument and its characterization of the program. Almost all the students using vouchers are black, he said. Given that framework, "it's a little ridiculous" to argue that students' departure to voucher schools makes their home school systems less white, he said. He also thought it ironic that rules set up to combat racism were being called on to keep black students in failing schools.

The voucher program started in New Orleans in 2008. A large number of participants still live in the city.

White also pointed out that the schools in the voucher program must comply with the terms of 1975 court case, Brumfield v. Dodd, that prohibits the state from giving public money to private schools that uphold segregation or discrimination.

The voucher program has been controversial since its inception last year, with multiple suits filed to block it. After the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in May that the state could not use the money it allots for each student in public schools, Gov. Bobby Jindal found about $40 million in public money elsewhere to cover the almost 8,000 2013-14 enrollees.

Jindal blasted the Justice Department's suit Saturday.

"After generations of being denied a choice, parents finally can choose a school for their child, but now the federal government is stepping in to prevent parents from exercising this right. Shame on them," he said. "Parents should have the ability to decide where to send their child to school."

The case has been assigned to Judge Ivan Lemelle. He ruled in November that elements of Jindal's 2012 education overhaul were unconstitutional,  because paying to implement the voucher program would hurt Tangipahoa Parish's ability to pay for the programs it uses to comply with its federal desegregation order. The state's appeal in that case is pending.

by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:14 AM
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Replies (1-10):
gsprofval
by Gold Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:29 AM
1 mom liked this

If public schools were doing the job, then there wouldn't be a problem. I am for vouchers being used in private schools so students can get a real education--not the fake crap from public schools.

IhartU
by Bronze Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 9:39 AM

 We need to focus on fixing the public schools, not using tax dollars to abandon them.

sarebear31976
by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I think parents have the right to seek the best education for their child.  I support vouchers, but where I think it gets a little fuzzy is religious schools.  I don't think taxpayer money should pay for religious education.

jcrew6
by Jenney on Aug. 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

The reason why poor districts are failing isn't because of lack in funding.  They are failing because the growing number of parents who don't give a shit, raise kids who don't give a shit.  There is not enough tax $ in the universe that will fix this. 

Teachers lose momentum when they don't have parents backing them up at home. Teachers lose innovation when crap like common core try to force a everyone fits in one box mentality.  

The parents and kids who do care, are the ones who are applying, lobbying, and praying for voucher systems to be expanded in their area.  

Quoting IhartU:

 We need to focus on fixing the public schools, not using tax dollars to abandon them.


IhartU
by Bronze Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM


Quoting jcrew6:

The reason why poor districts are failing isn't because of lack in funding.  They are failing because the growing number of parents who don't give a shit, raise kids who don't give a shit.  There is not enough tax $ in the universe that will fix this. 

Teachers lose momentum when they don't have parents backing them up at home. Teachers lose innovation when crap like common core try to force a everyone fits in one box mentality.  

The parents and kids who do care, are the ones who are applying, lobbying, and praying for voucher systems to be expanded in their area.  

Quoting IhartU:

 We need to focus on fixing the public schools, not using tax dollars to abandon them.


 

  Do we need to segregate those student who care, want to learn and are performing from those who don't? Have schools for honor students and leave all the others in the other schools?

 It's kind of like that around here now. Every elementary and middle school has an honors 'block' and those students stay together from class to class and even sit at a separate table from the other students at lunch. The high school my oldest went to made you go through an application process where they looked at your grades, PSSA scores, the essay you wrote on the application and the referrals from 3 teachers that had to be provided. Those are the kids who WANT to learn, are not trouble makers and actually want to do something with their lives- hell, her graduating class had 100% college placement!

 I simply don't know... I mean how are you going to force parents to care about their child's education? How are we too fix all the social problems that lead to so many broken homes, lack of parenting skills, unwanted children, the sense of entitlement and 'I don't give a shit attitude' that permeates the younger generations?

 It's not fair to the students and parents who care and want that education to have to put up with the kids who dont' want to learn, misbehave and who have parents who are just as screwed up as they are.

 Such a MESS.

 

JanuaryBaby06
by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

i don't think its fair to keep children in failing districts that are able to get out just because of the color of their skin & stats.... thats not any better then what segregation did, also it breeds hostility and seperates not on a racial level but on an economical level, which imo isn't any better. You don't think people will become will hold it against other racial groups that they are more or less the reason that these kids cant get out and accomplish more< nothing is stopping other racial groups from attaining vouchers. If a child and parent care enough to do anything they need to to get more they eventually will move & you may lose a tax payer. IDK, if its legal in the city then it's legal and every child should have a chance. i will admit im on the fence about the voucher program as a whole though.

Kristi831
by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I'm really not sure how I feel about the voucher system.  Both of my kids have always been in private school (on our dime, not a voucher) because the public schools in our area are failing.  It's such a mess, largely because so many parents don't care about their children's education. 

kcangel63
by Amanda on Aug. 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

I feel that if a parent does not like the quality of public school offered in their district, that they should be able to send their children to another school of higher quality.  If they qualify for vouchers (I assume there's a qualifying factor), they should be able to do so.  I feel that if they don't offer vouchers, then a parent should be allowed to freely take their child to another public school out of district if they want.

It's the low standards in schools today that was the deciding factor for us to homeschool. 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 6:10 PM

... Because President Obama believes that every American child is equal - It's just that some in the state of Louisiana are just less equal than others. Thank God that the President knews what really is best for all of us - more so than even our children's own parents. Thanks a lot, Obama!

grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

 The dems need to keep children dumb, so they will always be dependent on the gov't.  They don't want our children to succeed and 'build it themselves'.

One of the first things Obama did in 2009 was to do away with the voucher system in DC.  That was really great for the kids who were doing so much better in a good school, then were shuttled back to their run down dump, low scoring previous schools...ya think?

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