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Louisiana court strikes down private school voucher plan

Louisiana court strikes down private school voucher plan

Bobby Jindal was dealt a blow by the Louisiana court when it handed down its decision against the Governor's proposed voucher program, stating that it is in violation of the Louisiana Constitution's provision for educational funding.

Americans United reports that a strong provision in the Louisiana Constitution that protected the separation of church and state was removed in 1974 by lobbies that included the Roman Catholic Church.

The precluded a separation clause challenge, and the report also states that it violates another provision regulating how tax money is drawn from the Minimum Foundation Program, which stipulates that these monies must be used for all public elementary and secondary schools, and provides for an equitable allocation of funds to parish and city schools.

It was the Minimum Foundation Program that cinched the victory for the education groups. The challenge specifically stated that, according to the program, tax money can only be spent on public schools.

Judge Tim Kelley was quoted in the story as saying,

“The MFP was set up for students attending public elementary and secondary schools and was never meant to be diverted to private educational providers.”

Jindal replied to the court decision, stating that it was,

"…a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education.”

Americans United addressed the failure of Louisiana to seriously invest in public education, and cited a long record of trying to channel tax money from public to private, religious schools.

According to a report in the Seattle Times, Jindal and his supporters have planned an appeal, stating,

"On behalf of the citizens that cast their votes for reform, the parents who want more choices, and the kids who deserve a chance, we will appeal today's decision, and I'm confident we will prevail."

For more commentary, quotes and analyses, read the story at Americans United.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
  • Spuddie

    Jindal replied to the court decision, stating that it was,

    "…a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want
    nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at
    receiving a great education.”

    …provided they have enough money for private school tuition.

    Otherwise they can go f— themselves.

    • JTLiuzza

      The voucher program allows parents who don't have enough money for private schools to enroll their children in private schools with a voucher. The government money that would be spent for that child in a public school would be diverted to the private school of the parent's choice. The public schools that are failing to educate children would see a decrease in enrollment and increased scrutiny as a result which doesn't sit well with entrenched teacher's unions who like to ride the gravy train while not being held accountable.

      You are buying into the whole class warfare nonsense without even trying to think about the situation at hand.

      • Spuddie

        Of course those private schools do not have a mandate to accept everyone who applies and only take a token number of "voucher" students. Its the parent's choice only if they can afford to do so and meet whatever purely arbitrary standards the school wants to set. In essence you create sectarian segregated education.

        Public schools would be in better shape if they didn't constantly have their funds diverted to line the pockets of political cronies. In this case are the religious right. Private schools have zero scrutiny or accountability to the public. Using private school as the solution to lack of accountability in public
        school is like choosing a dictator to rule because you are worried
        about corruption in a democracy. The cure is worse than the problem.

        Private schools also do not have a duty to provide anything resembling objective outside standards of education. Only what their customers want to pay for. As various failed privatization efforts have shown, the marketplace dictates do not always translate into serving customers adequately or responsibly.

        Of course this is class warfare. Its the wealthy trying to restrict access to education of the working classes by forcing an entrance fee to it where one did not previously exist. Complaining about class warfare is not a denial of it. Just an admission that you are uncomfortable in the way the discussion is being framed.

        • Diogenes71

          Private schools are light years ahead of govenrment schools. The standards are much higher. I just ended 8 years as a parent of high school studnets. The crap that is taught, the method of teaching, the poor attitude of teachers (Ours are among the highest paid in the country, we have the shortest school year, yet we rank 45th in education and every graduatate going to college needs remedials courses in English and math). The unions keep telling us we need more money. No they don't! They need competition., .

          • Spuddie

            Except when they aren't.

            Such generalizations are not universally true. Private schools do not have a mandate to teach every student available and do not have a duty to transparency in its achievement statistics. Private schools are allowed to engage in sectarian nonsense that public schools could not touch. Public schools by their nature can't rig their stats by excluding students. There already is competition, it doesn't require taxpayer funding.

            In my area the tax base is large and the public schools rank high. The private schools are strictly for the sectarian minded. A rule of thumb is poor school districts usually suffer due to low tax
            base and lack of parental involvement with the School Board. Frankly a school district won't improve if you divert funds away from it.

            What you are saying is that education has to be more limited to the population for a school to work effectively. That basic education should be a function of wealth. That there is no general duty to provide a basic education for all citizens.

  • jj7212

    That Bobby Jindal is a douche. I'm getting tired of reading about his idiotic ideas. Glad to hear this news though. I hope it gets worldwide coverage for the kid's sake.

    • Peter

      Believe me, the rest of the world is sick and tired of all this nonsense, it ends up just making your country look bad. And, of course, that farcical Republican circus in the last election cycle. I'm Canadian, and we just shake our heads and wonder how it got this bad. And, there's no end in sight, so don't expect much coverage outside the US.

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