Republicans are claiming “temporary victory” for school choice as the Justice Department quietly dropped its request for an injunction that would have blocked Louisiana’s voucher program.
Less than a month ago, 30 senators led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) called on Attorney General Eric Holder to justify his department’s lawsuit against Louisiana’s Scholarship Program that gives low-income students vouchers to escape failing schools.
The DOJ’s petition argued that this could adversely affect racial balance at schools.
“Education needs to be about giving all of our students the best possible opportunity, not about reaching federal quotas determined by bureaucrats in Washington,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said. “I’m relieved that the Justice Department has decided against this particular attack on Louisiana parents and students, but this is a temporary victory. We still need to ensure that families are the ones to ultimately decide where their children will go to school, not some Washington bureaucrat or some executive order. That’s the end goal we need to continue working toward.”
The Louisiana Scholarship Program grants vouchers of $4,500 — $3,000 less than what a public school in the state spends on a student each year. In 2012, after expanding the program statewide, 91 percent of scholarship children were minorities including 86 percent African-American.
“I am relieved these children will now have the opportunity to get a good education,” said Toomey. “But this chance for a better life should never have been in question in the first place. Our children are not statistics. They deserve the opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty and violence through a good education. The fact that Mr. Holder would block any child from a good education is bad enough. The fact that he tried to do so based solely on the children’s race is inexcusable. I am delighted the Justice Department has seen the light and dropped this unfortunate lawsuit.”
The Oct. 24 letter from Toomey, Vitter and the other senators stressed concern “that the Department of Justice’s decision to prevent these needy children from obtaining a valuable education is not consistent with the pursuit of justice, but instead may be the result of improper, partisan motives.”
“It seems to us that a program that rescues needy children from failing schools, gives families a chance to break the cycle of poverty and violence, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year is one that should be lauded by the federal government. Instead, the Justice Department is working to sabotage it. Shockingly, the Justice Department is doing so by targeting a small group of children based solely on the color of their skin,” the senators wrote, adding comments they’d received from parents thankful for the program.