JindalAAEs Education Plan Dealt Setback in Court; Voucher Initiative canAAEt Be Funded with Money Meant for Public Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Benjamin Wolfgang, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a setback for Gov. Bobby JindalAAEs drive to overhaul the stateAAEs education system, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday said the state canAAEt fund its landmark voucher initiative with money meant for public schools.

But Mr. Jindal, a Republican, vowed that his contentious scholarship program will go forward despite TuesdayAAEs decision, pledging to find another revenue source to pay for it.

We are committed to making sure choice is alive, he said.

The system, one of the most ambitious vouchers efforts ever attempted in the United States, had been set up to take money from studentsAAE state allocations and use it to cover the cost of attending a private or religious school. In its ruling, the court said that LouisianaAAEs minimum foundation program Au the stateAAEs per-student allocation for each child to attend a public school Au canAAEt be used for anything else.

The court made clear that it wasnAAEt passing judgment on the program itself. The decision dealt only with the diversion of dollars meant for public schools that the court struck down in its 6-to-1 decision.

The constitution prohibits those funds from being expended on the tuition costs of nonpublic schools and nonpublic entities, said the majority opinion from Justice John Weimer.

About 8,000 students have been approved for vouchers in the upcoming school year. Rather than use money meant for public schools to help fund their tuitions, Mr. Jindal said the state will find money somewhere else in its budget.

The case was brought by a coalition of education groups including the Louisiana Federation of Teachers union, the Louisiana School Boards Association and others. Those groups and the American Federation of Teachers, the nationAAEs second-largest teachers union and an organization deeply opposed to vouchers, applauded the Louisiana decision. …