Louisiana judge rules against Jindal’s voucher program, a.k.a. better opportunities for children

posted at 3:31 pm on December 3, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Since his election, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has championed the cause of education reform by permitting more private-sector competition into the school system — the ire of the teachers’ unions be darned. One of his signature achievements, a private-school tuition voucher program that allows low-income children (those from families with a household income less than 250% of the federal poverty line) stuck in underperforming public schools (those graded a “C” or worse by the state) to instead attend a private school of their choice, was ruled unconstitutional by a state judge on Friday.

Judge Tim Kelley sided with arguments presented by teacher unions and school boards seeking to shut down the voucher program and other changes that would funnel more money away from traditional public schools.

More than 4,900 students are enrolled in 117 private schools with taxpayer dollars, in one of the largest voucher programs in the nation.

The judge said the method the Jindal administration, state education leaders and lawmakers used to pay for the voucher program violates state constitutional provisions governing the annual education funding formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program or MFP.

In other words, why no, the teachers’ unions and big-government progressives wouldn’t like it if they were actually forced to compete and compare results with private institutions. Gov. Jindal was not pleased by the ruling, pledging to appeal the decision:

“Today’s ruling is wrong headed and a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education.   That opportunity is a chance that every child deserves and we will continue the fight to give it to them. The opinion sadly ignores the rights of families who do not have the means necessary to escape failing schools. 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. This ruling changes nothing for the students currently in the program. All along, we expected this to be decided by the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

Good thing too, because if the ruling stands, eventually that many of the 5000-odd kids who have so far made use of the new program may have to be yanked out of their new schools and placed back into the failing public schools from whence they came. The WSJ gets it right:

Louisiana Judge Timothy Kelley sure is a fast writer. Only hours after the end of a two-day trial, the Balzac of the judiciary rolled out a 39-page opinion striking down the state’s pioneering voucher program as unconstitutional. Could it be that he knew how he was going to rule before the trial?In other words, better that all students fail together, rather than let parents take the money that is supposed to go to public education and try to get their child actually educated. This is the kind of perverse egalitarianism promoted by the teachers unions that brought the lawsuit. No student can ever escape their clutches, lest parents discover that maybe there’s a better way.

… Where are the liberals who claim to favor equal opportunity?

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Comment pages: 1 2

What is with that horrible picture of Jindal on the main blog page?

I know it is still early, but put me on the Jindal train for 2016. I’m sure there will be other people I will also like, though.

bluegill on December 3, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Which is why rich northeastern liberals who send their kids to private schools with names like Fordham, Regis, Loyola, Sacred Heart vote republican, right?

ernesto on December 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM

You must not be from the Northeast. No, Northeastern liberals do NOT send their kids to Fordham, Loyola, Sacred Heart, etc. Liberals send their kids to Groton, Milton, Kent, Dalton, Horace Mann……

Maddie on December 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Another junk justice Judge Benedict “Egomania” Roberts wannabe who knows what’s best for the peons, or else. Surprise!

Ya gotta problem wit’ judicial tyranny? Shaddup, little people, or I’m gonna hold ya in contempt!

viking01 on December 3, 2012 at 10:54 PM

You’re an ass. MOST school voucher programs are directed at low-income kids. People with more means are better able to afford to send their kids to private schools/better schools.
Btw: Jindal is NOT a dem lite-he IS a conservative.
Did I mention that you’re an ass?

annoyinglittletwerp on December 3, 2012 at 5:56 PM

A voucher program specifically for low-income parents is redistributing wealth to those already not paying taxes. The kind of thing that Dem Lites like Jindal would support. A conservative would support a voucher program for everybody.

sauldalinsky on December 3, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Wrong. Most voucher programs are directed at bad schools. These are the kind of schools that don’t educate, but by God government you will send your children there to be uneducated, unless you can pay all your taxes and still afford to send your children to a private or Christian school, or home school.

Yes, these are mostly lower income families. Higher income families typically move to whatever neighborhood has a good school, so their children can go there.

So technically, both upper income and lower income children are treated exactly the same: they both go to whatever public school is in their school district. But the end result is totally different.

Vouchers are not a giveaway. They divert some of the funding used for public schools to send children who were not learning at those schools to a school where they can actually learn. So the public school still gets a portion — maybe half — of the taxes raised to educate the child, while the charter school gets the other portion. Usually, the voucher completely covers the cost of the charter school tuition, because public schools waste so much money.

So why do public schools hate them: Because their funding is derived from how many students they have, and if even 100 children are home-schooled or private-schooled, they figure they’re losing that much funding.

And make no mistake: that is at the core of the issue. If vouchers were just a government giveaway, they wouldn’t care. But because it affects their own funding, they act like the money is being stolen from them. In spite of the fact that they are not entitled to funding to educate a student if that student is actually being educated elsewhere.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 3, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Only an NEA-thug Obama voter would oppose the opportunity to move their kid to a competent private school where the teachers can actually speak English, inculcate hard science, understand addition, subtraction and the, er, higher math of multiplication and division and convey such knowledge to civilized students not cowering in fear for being shaken down for lunch money or molested (and worse) in the bathrooms.

viking01 on December 3, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Of course. People who are taught how to think don’t vote democrat.

Slowburn on December 4, 2012 at 12:37 AM

Here’s an explanation of the LA funding formula


It appears to me that Jindal could pull some money out of the funding and apply that to the voucher program, or given how severely underfunded LA’s schools are, seek a new source of funding for the vouchers.

Charter schools are included in the funding formula, but are under hte control of local school boards – that might be an avenue to explore as well.

Daisy_WI on December 4, 2012 at 8:48 AM

What is with that horrible picture of Jindal on the main blog page?

I know it is still early, but put me on the Jindal train for 2016. I’m sure there will be other people I will also like, though.

bluegill on December 3, 2012 at 9:24 PM


listens2glenn on December 4, 2012 at 11:07 AM

If these kids are forced back into the public schools I fear their grades will suffer from retaliation by the teacher their parents rejected.

agmartin on December 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Liberals DO NOT LIKE children being educated PROPERLY! They have been fighting that for over 50 years now. With the large number of minority students involved, IT IS RACIST for liberals—and liberal Judges—to decide that such large numbers of minority students DO NOT DESERVE a better education! LIBERALS ARE RACISTS!!!!!!!

DixT on December 4, 2012 at 11:55 AM

So technically, both upper income and lower income children are treated exactly the same: they both go to whatever public school is in their school district. But the end result is totally different.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 3, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Everyone is treated the same now (equality of opportunity) but voucher proponents want giveaways only to “lower income families” to reach the same end results for all (equality of outcome). Muddleheaded liberalism (no matter how well-intentioned) that is spending money we don’t have and destroying our country.

sauldalinsky on December 4, 2012 at 12:21 PM

If annoyinglittletwerp is still reading, here’s the key difference between Jindal (liberal) and Milton Friedman (conservative)

Reason: What would the biggest benefits be if vouchers were implemented in the way you originally discussed them in 1955?

Friedman: Let’s be clear. There are many kinds of possible vouchers, but there are two basic varieties, which I label charity vouchers and educational vouchers. Charity vouchers are unfortunately what we’ve gotten mostly so far. They are intended for low-income people who are unquestionably the worst victims of our deficient school system. Charity vouchers help the poor but they will not produce any real reform of the educational system. And what we need is a real reform.

I want vouchers to be universal, to be available to everyone. They should contain few or no restrictions on how they can be used.

sauldalinsky on December 4, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Comment pages: 1 2