- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The more we move forward on education reform, the more backward we become.

Thanks to President Obama’s Justice Department, run by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., a federal judge in Louisiana is scheduled to hear arguments Friday in a lawsuit that could put a critical education reform genie back in its bottle.

The Justice Department’s suit essentially says this: Louisiana’s public voucher program desecrates nearly 50-year-old federal desegregation rules.

What’s more is that the Justice Department claims to be filing the suit on behalf of pursuing civil rights.

If none of that leaves you saying “oy, vey,” then woe is me.

Unions, liberals, Democrats, people who live in the past and people who want poor children to continue to languish in poor schools need to get a grip on the present and future.

What the judge has been asked to do is weigh the interests of generations-old Justice Department oversight rules regarding segregation against Louisiana’s publicly financed, child-centered, income-based voucher program, called the Louisiana Scholarship Program.

The judge should consider why the program exists in the first place. It’s for children, through no fault of their own, languishing in traditional public schools despite court orders, Justice oversight, higher taxes and increased spending.

Impatient parents became smarter.

For its part, the Justice Department has said it does not want “to end Louisiana’s voucher program.”

Rather, Justice spokeswoman Dena Iverson said, “The United States seeks a straightforward goal: to ensure that the state of Louisiana implements its school voucher program in a manner that complies with the U.S. Constitution and long-standing federal desegregation orders.”

Parents and other advocates of education reform and school choice must understand that the operative word is “long-standing.”

As my colleague Seth McLaughlin pointed out in a report Wednesday, the Justice Department lawsuit is based on “a 1975 ruling that found the majority of the state’s black students went to segregated schools until federal courts ordered most schools to integrate. It also found that enrolling students in private schools with public funds interfered with desegregation efforts.”

Will the court even consider the challenges hoisted upon Louisiana in recent years?

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