Louisiana Teachers Unions Fighting to Crush Choice Program

by Mark D’Alessio

The teachers unions are at it again, this time in Louisiana. Earlier this year, Governor Bobby Jindal proposed some bold education reforms, which were passed by lawmakers. One such reform is the implementation of a statewide school voucher program. The program provides families $4,315 to pay for annual tuition at a private school if their child attends a public school that is graded with a C, D, or F by the state.

The parents of nearly 5,000 students have taken full advantage of the opportunity to provide their children with a quality education by pulling them out of schools that are failing them. I’m sure most of us would do the same for our own children’s sake. Sounds great, right? Not so fast.

According to an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate, lawsuits were filed by the state’s two largest teacher unions and numerous local school boards in an attempt to force the 5,000 students back to the failing schools. The plaintiffs are suing under the guise that allocating money to help families pay tuition at private schools is unconstitutional and is having a dramatically negative effect on the state’s public institutions.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the scholarship program accounts for 0.6% of the state’s $3.6 billion fund for education. It’s hardly a time to panic that Louisiana’s public education fund is being raided. And more importantly, are you telling me that prior to the Governor’s voucher program, these same public schools were graded with an A or B? I think not.

What’s really going on here is nothing new. Once again school choice is being attacked by those whose jobs would be on the line. As the Wall Street Journal says, “The Louisiana unions know that putting their dismal classrooms into competition with private schools could eventually have students and parents trampling each other in a rush to the exits.” And that’s the truth.

This article was original published in Free Enterprise on November 20, 2012.

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