The Department of Justice is being accused of blocking educational opportunities for minority students in Louisiana all for the sake of preserving the power of the “educational establishment.”
The Department of Justice has sued Louisiana in order to block implementation of vouchers for many public school students for the 2014-2015 academic year. The DOJ's primary argument is that letting underprivileged students take advantage of vouchers to attend private schools can disrupt the racial balance in public schools – an argument that Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum says is bogus.
“About 80 percent of the kids who receive the voucher or the scholarship are from the minority standpoint,” says the Forum’s executive director. “And an argument can be made that we’re not limiting integration; we’re expanding it into the private and parochial schools because of the introduction of these minority students.”
In an interview with the Times-Picayune, State Education Superintendent John White pointed out that almost all the students using vouchers are black. He added "it's a little ridiculous" to argue that students leaving public schools to attend private ones makes their home school systems less white.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called the DOJ’s action “shameful” and said both President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents.”
In a statement about the filing, the governor added: "Make no mistake – this motion is a threat to the children in our state who only get one chance to grow up and deserve the opportunity to get the best education so they can pursue their dreams."
Mills believes the DOJ's motive for filing the lawsuit is purely political. “It’s designed to protect the constituency,” he tells OneNewsNow, “and that constituency is the public educational establishment who, in this particular matter, do not have the best interests of the child at hear but rather the preservation of political power .... I find that unconscionable, immoral, and unjust.”
Lawmakers in The Bayou State approved a voucher program in 2008 for low-income students in New Orleans who were in failing schools. The program, which was later expanded statewide, served almost 5,000 students at 118 schools across the state in the 2012-2013 school year.