Louisiana Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional

We’ve written a few times before about Louisiana’s state-financed school voucher program, which is being used to fund creationist schools. See Louisiana Creationism Is National News.

While we weren’t paying attention, some litigation has been started. In the UK’s Guardian, this story appeared a few days ago: Louisiana education case highlights Bobby Jindal’s creationism state. It says, with bold font added by us:

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is rapidly emerging as a new “moderate” Republican voice, but a court case beginning Wednesday is set to shine light on a controversial policy in his state which sees government funding given to schools that teach creationism. The case has been brought by a Louisiana teachers’ union and is aimed at a voucher scheme whereby some parents can take their children out of poor state schools and get vouchers to use at private schools.

The Guardian article is dated 28 November, which was a Wednesday, so presumably the case started two days ago. The article continues:

One of the most controversial aspects of the programme is that some of the schools included on it are conservative Christian organisations that teach creationism in their science classes. When parents use the vouchers at such establishments they are effectively giving state money to teach children lessons that can include alternatives to the theory of evolution or questioning the widely accepted age of the Earth.

We already knew about that. Let’s read on:

One of the main Louisiana voices against the scheme is student activist Zack Kopplin. He began protesting the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act – a law that allowed public funds to be used at schools that teach creationism – as a high school project.

Right. We’ve written about that too. See Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program. The Guardian article is a long one, and a lot of it is about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Here’s an example:

Jindal, who will next year hold the high-profile position of head of the Republican Governors’ Association, has made numerous criticisms of Republican extremism in recent weeks. He even told one interviewer that the GOP should “stop being the stupid party”.

The case is just getting started and we didn’t think we had missed much by not posting about it earlier, but look what we just found at the website of Fox News: State judge rules Louisiana school voucher program unconstitutional. Here’s what it says:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s private school tuition voucher program has been ruled unconstitutional by a state judge. State Judge Tim Kelley said Friday that the program improperly diverts money allocated through the state’s public school funding formula to private schools. He also said it unconstitutionally diverts local tax dollars to private schools.

Wow — that was fast! Oops — we just noticed that it’s an Associated Press story, so we’ve probably copied all we can. You’ll have to click over there to read the rest. No doubt there will be more on this soon from other sources, so that’s all we’ve got at the moment.

Addendum: We found this at the MSNBC website: Jindal’s private tuition voucher program ruled unconstitutional. It says:

Mother Jones compiled a list of some of the “facts” students would learn in one of the 119 schools participating in the state’s program — from claiming that “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ,” to globalization being a precursor to the Rapture.

[…]

There’s no word yet on how this ruling could affect similar programs in other states, including Indiana, whose state private tuition voucher program headed to the state’s Supreme Court last week.

Update: Louisiana Creationist Voucher Funding — Dead.

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15 responses to “Louisiana Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional

  1. Charley Horse

    The judge who ruled against Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, finding it unconstitutional, is a conservative Republican who recently ran for a seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court.
    For a bit more see:

    http://www.wdsu.com/news/local-news/new-orleans/Who-is-Judge-Tim-Kelley/-/9853400/17611832/-/w4mi2w/-/index.html

    Maybe his quick decision is payback……but I shouldn’t judge him…

  2. Charley Horse

    More here: http://www.shreveporttimes.com/viewart/20121130/NEWS0401/121130009/UPDATED-Judge-rules-school-voucher-program-unconstitutional?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    State Judge Tim Kelley said in the ruling that the program — a key piece of Jindal’s education reform initiative earlier this year — violates Louisiana’s constitution by diverting money allocated through the state’s public school funding formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program or MFP, to private schools. He also said it unconstitutionally diverts local tax dollars to private schools.

    “The MFP was set up for students attending public elementary and secondary schools and was never meant to be diverted to private educational providers,” Kelley wrote in a 39-page ruling. …….

    Earlier this week: ….On Monday, a federal judge halted the voucher program in one Louisiana parish, saying it conflicts with a decades-old desegregation case.

    U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle’s ruling affected only Tangipahoa Parish. However, it had implications in more than 30 of Louisiana’s public school districts that are under federal desegregation orders…

  3. I just added an addendum to the post about something from MSNBC.

  4. Wow, I think I can hear the screaming all the way from Seattle.

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    So if Jindal wants the GOP to “stop being the stupid party” before putting his hat in the ring for the 2016 presidential election, how eager will Jindal be to prolong the Louisiana school voucher program stupidity by encouraging a chain of court appeals over these rulings?

    If he is truly presidential nominee material, he will have to take care now to be better at playing both sides of the issue than was Romney. He is not in a good spot to employ the Bart Simpson defense: “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove a thing”.

  6. TA: “Wow, I think I can hear the screaming all the way from Seattle.”
    You might be hearing me cheering.

    “There’s no word yet on how this ruling could affect similar programs in other states, including Indiana, whose state private tuition voucher program headed to the state’s Supreme Court last week.”

    Things should get interesting.

    [Jindal] even told one interviewer that the GOP should “stop being the stupid party”.

    It might help a bit if he just left the party.

  7. The Trail of Tears as evangelism? No wonder so many people from atheists to thoughtful xians find such thinking repulsive. That is way beyond stupid, and I am at a loss for words to describe how mad that makes me…..

  8. It is primarily because of this issue that I am aware of him at all, and do not view Jindal as a moderate. Is it just me and my Liberal goggles? How moderate is he on other issues?

  9. For anyone not familiar with Bobby Jindal, he is not a moderate in any sense of the word. He is as right-wing as you can get but not quite as nutty as some of the GOP senate candidates we’ve seen. For a man that has a biology degree from Brown University you would think he would be pro higher education, but he’s just the opposite. Louisiana has suffered budget cuts to higher education totaling about 30%. At the same time tuition has risen. Many students now pay as much in tuition as the state pays the school. Any more cuts and you might just as well privatize the “state” universities. He also is trying to privatize the state hospitals associated with the LSU Medical Centers in the state. I hope if he tries to run for higher office in the future his policies are better scrutinized than they have been so far. Also he signed a bill several years ago that gives public teachers the ability to use unapproved materials in the classroom, i.e. creationist anti-evolution materials. And he’s the one saying that the Republican Party should not be the “stupid” party? Oh well, that’s what you get for living in LaLa Land (It’s not just California any more).

  10. @Biokid: It looks like he should know better, but is just pandering to the faction in Louisiana that will get him the most votes. Either way, how can he be trusted?

  11. @Douglas E:
    It’s not just the Indians. When I was a christian (days long behind, thank the galaxy), the same argument was used about…wait for it…the blacks in South Africa.
    As for globalization being a prelude to the rapture, that’s been around at least since the 70s. For people with no horizon beyond their own particular interpretation of the bible, pretty much anything they disagree with is a prelude to the rapture.

  12. Mark – understood and agreed. This topic reminds me of a recent article that articulates that we are not “a nation of immigrants” but rather “a nation of European immigrants, African importees and conquered Mexican and Native Americans.” http://www.themennonite.org/issues/15-12/articles/Why_Ive_stopped_saying_We_are_a_nation_of_immigrants

  13. In what sense could Mexicans possibly be considered “conquered”? Losing a few barely-populated northern provinces 150 years ago doesn’t count as suffering “conquest.”

  14. I would say that taking roughly 55% of their territory and 100,000 individuals is not trivial.

  15. No, it’s trivial. It was 150 years ago. If they’re actually still smarting from the loss of El Norte, then they are a nation of shockingly thin-skinned sorts, which is not the vibe I get from Mexicans at all. Do you really think the U.S. would still be traumitized if say, Canada had seized the Great Lakes Region 150 years ago? Hell no, it’d be a historical footnote.