Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's private school voucher program was dealt a significant blow on Friday. Louisiana District Court Judge Tim Kelley ruled the state's "diversion of funds" set aside for public education is unconstitutional, reports the Times-Picayune.
"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," [said Jindal] ... Louisiana Superintendent John White also issued a statement saying, "We strongly disagree with the ruling. We are optimistic this decision will be reversed on appeal."
The suit was brought by Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT), Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), Louisiana School Boards Association and 43 local school boards. LFT Public Relations Director Les Landon told NOLA.com he felt very emotional after the ruling. "This is a win for all of the children of Louisiana -- and for the taxpayers," he said Friday afternoon after the ruling.
The voucher program also faces federal challenges, reports Reuters.
[Last] week, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled that the program had the potential to disrupt the region's court-ordered efforts to desegregate public schools. The judge issued a temporary injunction halting the use of vouchers in Tangipahoa Parish over concern that the program was siphoning off state dollars needed to implement the desegregation plan.
While that ruling just applied to the one parish, at least 30 other school districts in Louisiana are under desegregation orders; opponents of the voucher program have said they will bring similar federal court cases in those districts.
The approximately 5,000 students currently receiving vouchers will be able to "continue attending their private schools pending appeal", according to officials.
Note that Jindal says the vouchers will allow students to "receive a great education." Once upon a time our state governments were supposed to ensure that public schools had the resources to provide a "great" education. Interesting.