Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal proclaimed Tuesday evening, "the people in Washington running our federal government are more interested in skin color than they are in education." This was after Louisiana submitted a court-ordered proposal to the Department of Justice to modify how information about the Louisiana Scholarship Program is shared. This is a result of a federal judge's November ruling that the program needs federal oversight.
Jindal loves the program because it helps low-income kids leave failing public schools and enroll in private schools (using taxpayer dollars). Now, with the DOJ's involvement, he fears it will be "regulated to death." He said yesterday,
President Obama’s Department of Justice has admitted it cannot prove that Louisiana school choice is violating desegregation efforts, yet it continues to seek the ability to tell a parent their child cannot escape a failing school because their child is not the ‘right’ race. The Department of Justice proposal reeks of federal government intrusion and proves the people in Washington running our federal government are more interested in skin color than they are in education.
Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ, however, are concerned that the vouchers Louisiana issued have affected the desegregation process in the state. Many counties in Louisiana are still under desegregation orders, and letting kids bounce out of public schools affects the racial balance of those schools.
Jindal argues that kids of all races can be helped by the program. In September, a week after the DOJ lawsuit against the state was filed, he invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference:
It is amazing to me that almost exactly 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech saying that he dreamt of a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, almost 50 years to the day, our own federal government would be trying to force kids back into failing schools.
In other words, it's Obama and Holder who are hurting minority kids, not the voucher program, he says. Meanwhile, the DOJ has asked the state for an analysis of the racial makeup of the state's private schools. Jindal calls this a "frightening overreach of the federal government."
Jindal hasn't lost the battle completely, however. The original suit aimed to block the program entirely. Now, the program can continue under federal supervision.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.