About a month ago, the Department of Justice made the bizarre and by almost all accounts counterproductive decision to sue the state of Louisiana for working to turn around the state’s low-performing public school system and allowing low-income students with opportunities to escape from these fail factories with a voucher program. The DOJ’s apparently depraved move to use outdated desegregation decrees to actively block poor and largely minority students from access to a better education went over well with pretty much nobody, and with Gov. Bobby Jindal least of all.
After calling the Obama administration out last week for their disingenuous representation of what really just amounts to “forcing parents to go to federal court to seek approval for where they want to send their children to school,” Jindal took his fight straight to the source on Monday and invited President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to come to Louisiana and check out the state’s voucher program for themselves — and more or less dares them to carry on with their lawsuit after they talk to some of the parents whose children stand to benefit from the reforms. The AP has some excerpts from his letter to the White House:
“I am sure you would agree that it is critical to sit down with parents and students who are enrolled in the program to discuss their experiences at the new schools and how it compares to the experiences at their previous failing schools,” the Republican governor says in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
“I believe if you and the Attorney General are able to hear firsthand from parents about the experiences their children are having in the program, then you will reconsider the suit,” Jindal writes. …
“I think it is only right that you and Attorney General Holder join me and come visit a scholarship school in Louisiana to look into the faces of the parents and kids and try to explain to them why you want to force them back into failing schools,” the governor writes to the president. …
“However, it takes time to fix some of our failing public schools that have been in disrepair for far too long — time that our children do not have. Our children only grow up once and every single child, no matter race or income level, deserves an equal opportunity to get a great education,” he writes.
As tempting as it is to hold out hope that the Obama administration will take Jindal up on the invite and get some live feedback from the people their ideological campaign effects will mean dropping their weaksauce defense on what they’re plenty well aware is an indefensible lawsuit. As Dick Komer notes at Forbes, this entire misbegotten suit is based off of some trumped-up assertions that don’t really stand the test of logic:
Finally, the DOJ, perhaps in an effort to appear “reasonable,” but more likely in an attempt to intimidate Louisiana, notes that it is only asking the court to enjoin the state from awarding vouchers to students attending schools in the 34 court-ordered districts without prior permission from the federal judges overseeing the court orders. As noted previously, those orders do not prohibit students from transferring to private schools. The DOJ also asserts that the court could even interfere with the award of scholarships in the 35 racially unitary districts no longer under court order, if the program supports, results in, or fosters segregation or discrimination. This assertion is simply ludicrous, given that the DOJ would have to prove intentional racial discrimination with respect to a program where 91 percent of the scholarship recipients are minority, and 86 percent of the recipients are coming from schools that the state has rated as “D” or “F” on an A-F scale, and where every one of the private schools they are moving to is in compliance with the court order issued in this very case in 1975.
Apparently, what the DOJ expects to happen is for the federal judges overseeing these 34 districts remaining under federal court orders to forbid families from using scholarships for which their children are eligible to move their children out of ineffective public schools into nondiscriminatory private schools, if those private schools are “racially identifiable.” This would return Louisiana to the prior status quo where families with the means to do so are free to move their children to the private schools of their choice, but low-income families are forced to remain behind in inadequate public schools to ensure racial balance.