Louisiana Judge Rules Jindal's Voucher Program Violates State Constitution

A Louisiana judge on Friday ruled that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s landmark school voucher program violated the state’s constitution that governs how taxpayer monies can be used to fund education, ruling that state funds were "never meant to be diverted to private educational providers." 

Nearly 5,000 students from low-income areas and failing schools are enrolled in private schools under Jindal's voucher program. 

Jindal said he, along with the state's Superintendent of Education, will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. 

“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,” Jindal said. “This ruling changes nothing for the students currently in the program. All along, we expected this to be decided by the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

Jindal said the the opinion “sadly ignores the rights of families who do not have the means necessary to escape failing schools.”

"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,” Jindal said. “That opportunity is a chance that every child deserves and we will continue the fight to give it to them. “

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT), Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), Louisiana School Boards Association and 43 local school boards brought the suit, and, according to NOLA.com, “Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes said the ruling was a triumph for the teachers associations and school boards.”

Bill Maurer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents the families using the voucher program, said there “are clear precedents that allow this program—and many others like it that already exist—to be funded through this means.”

“Simply put, the trial court’s ruling is inconsistent with Louisiana precedents, with the state’s laws and with its Constitution,” Maurer said. “We look forward to vindicating this program in the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

Maurer also asked why the "source of the funding for the choice program" is so important to "the local school boards and the two teachers’ unions who are challenging the program."

Because, as it stands now, this little program, which represents well under one percent of the money the state spends on education, would be automatically funded when the general appropriation for education is funded by the state... What the unions want to see is that the funding for this program becomes a political football to be fought over year after year. They would much rather nip this minute challenge to their authority in the bud than go about the hard work of actually reforming the hundreds and hundreds of public schools across the state that fail to deliver anything close to a quality education to the school kids now consigned to those schools.

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