Jindal: DOJ's latest school-choice lawsuit maneuver "nothing more than a PR stunt"

The Obama Justice Department’s relentless campaign to deny low-income and often minority children the opportunity to escape failing public school systems — capriciously and malignantly conducted under the guise of “protecting civil rights” and aiding the “desegregation process” — made its latest manifestation in Louisiana in August, when the DOJ asked a federal court to stop Louisiana school districts from handing out private-school vouchers.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has been fighting the federal government’s blatantly ideological interference in his state’s education system, defending the positive program that has demonstrably bettered the opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged children and for which parents are clamoring. Regardless of the Justice Department’s latest claims in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner, saying the state has agreed to hand over information that the DOJ has ostensibly been requesting about the program’s effect on the racial makeup of participating schools, Jindal insists that Louisiana and the feds are no closer to a resolution on the issue. Via Politico:

“…Louisiana agreed to provide information on the voucher program that the department had originally requested in May 2013 and that the state had, up until now, largely withheld. This is thus a major step forward and puts the parties on a path to resolving the primary issue that motivated the department’s court filing in the first place,” the DOJ letter to Boehner reads. “We are pleased that Louisiana finally has agreed to provide the necessary information to the department. It is only regrettable that the department had to resort to court involvement in this case in order to obtain it.”

But Jindal blasted the DOJ’s letter because the central component of the lawsuit still stands: DOJ is still aiming to keep the program from granting vouchers next school year unless a federal court first approves parents’ decisions about where they want to send their children to school.

“The Obama Administration’s latest maneuver is nothing more than a PR stunt,” Jindal said in a statement. “While attempting to rebrand its legal challenge as merely an attempt to seek information about implementation of the scholarship program, the administration’s real motive still stands — forcing parents to go to federal court to seek approval for where they want to send their children to school.”

“The Obama Administration’s letter is disingenuous,” the statement continued. “The administration claims the state is suddenly providing information, when in reality, the information the federal government is seeking does not even exist yet. And they know it.”

And Jindal is capitalizing on the opportunity by making sure everyone in Louisiana is acquainted with the Justice Department’s perversity, scooping into his campaign funds to get the message out with an ad buy that will run for the next several weeks:

The Justice Department, however, apparently remains determined in their quest to undercut Bobby Jindal’s gumption in taking on the quagmire that is the public school system and its teachers unions, which is a damn shame for the many parents trying to get their kids out of its fail factories. Clint Bolick has more at the WSJ:

As part of its efforts to boost educational opportunities for disadvantaged children, last year Louisiana enacted the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program. The statewide program provides tuition vouchers to children from families with incomes below 250% of the poverty line whose children otherwise would attend public schools that the state has graded C, D or F. This year, roughly 8,000 children are using vouchers to attend private schools. Among those, 91% are minority and 86% would have attended public schools with D or F grades. …

If successful, the Justice Department’s motion could thwart school choice—not just vouchers, but charter schools—in hundreds of districts across the country that are still subject to desegregation decrees. And it would deprive thousands of Louisiana schoolchildren, nearly all of them black, of the only high-quality educational opportunities they have ever had.

Such a result would turn the desegregation decrees on their head, for it would inflict grave harm on the very children who are the decrees’ intended beneficiaries. Properly understood, desegregation and school choice share a common aim: educational opportunity.

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