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December 1, 2012

Judge Overturns La. Voucher Program

By

Never underestimate the lengths to which teachers’ unions will go to trap students in failing government schools to protect their education monopoly. In Louisiana, the union sued the state to have Governor Bobby Jindal’s groundbreaking school-choice option overturned as unconstitutional.

Sadly, it appears the union’s tactics are working. Judge Tim Kelley of the 19th judicial district in East Baton Rouge ruled yesterday that the voucher program is unconstitutional, and Louisiana’s poorest schoolchildren may no longer be able to enjoy their newfound educational options.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) argued that the voucher program violates a provision of the state constitution requiring that government education funding be used to finance public schools. The union argued that the voucher program robs public schools, as if public schools were entitled to taxpayer dollars irrespective of academic performance.

“The LFT is preventing parents from doing what they think is best for their children,” Louisiana schools superintendent John White said. “It’s time to return our focus to teaching and classrooms, but the LFT keeps dragging us back to politics and courtrooms.”

Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in more than 100 private schools this year thanks to the Louisiana voucher program, which allows children from low- and middle-income families in underperforming schools to attend any private school of their parents’ choice. Sadly, union thuggery now jeopardizes the future of this successful model of school choice.

Louisiana’s school-choice program is a public education program — if we rethink what public education means. That’s exactly what state policymakers across the country should be doing. They should think not in terms of government buildings, but of educating the public. That education can happen in a variety of settings: public schools, private schools, charter schools, online learning, homeschooling, or any combination of these options. School choice ensures that students have access to options that meet their unique learning needs.

Nearly 5,000 children will learn this weekend that they might not be able to continue attending the schools chosen by their parents. To learn from the teachers that they believe in.

And for that, the kids can thank a union boss.

— Lindsey M. Burke is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in National Review Online's "The Corner."

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