Republican congressional leaders Tuesday asked President Barack Obama’s Justice Department to stop trying to block Louisiana from giving vouchers to students in some failing public schools so they can attend private ones.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, pushing the Louisiana legal fight over vouchers and their impact on the school desegregation process into the national spotlight.
Furthering that debate, Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Gov. Jeb Bush are speaking today at the National Press Club in Washington on the matter.
The letter from Boehner asked for explanations on why the federal government would get involved in the matter and also requests all meetings as well as written and electronic correspondences the Obama administration has had on the matter.
“The department’s allegation that the Louisiana program could impede the desegregation process is extremely troubling and paradoxical in nature,” the letter states. “If DOJ is successful in shutting down this invaluable school choice initiative, not only will students across Louisiana be forced to remain in failing schools, but it could have a reverberating effect and cause other states to feel pressured to shut down similar initiatives that provide countless children the opportunity to receive a better education.”
Others signing the letter included U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn.; Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind.; and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodger.
Vouchers are state aid for students who attend public schools rated C, D or F, and who meet other conditions, to attend private schools.
Jindal and other backers say the aid offers students trapped in poor schools a way out. Critics say vouchers drain vital dollars from traditional public schools.
The Justice Department is attempting in federal court to ban Louisiana from continuing the voucher program for students who otherwise would attend public schools under federal desegregation orders.
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