INGRID JACQUES

Editor’s Note: Court offers a victory for vouchers

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

School choice earned a big win this week, when a federal appeals court upheld a voucher program in Louisiana.

The Obama administration has picked an odd fight in going after a popular school choice program that gives low-income families the option of leaving failing schools and attending private schools. Roughly 90 percent of students who participate are black.

The Justice Department has claimed it’s worried about the program’s impact on desegregation efforts, so this case had implications at several hundred districts around the country that remain under federal desegregation orders.

Families love the program, yet the Justice Department didn’t like the slight disruptions it was having on the racial makeup of some schools. That’s not a good reason to keep children in the worst schools.

When the department filed the case two years ago, it initially asked for an injunction to preclude students in schools under desegregation orders from using vouchers. While the Justice Department changed its mind on the injunction, it pressed forward with demanding extensive reports related to the program.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the department “can’t limit enrollment in a state private school scholarship program,” according to the Goldwater Institute, which represented families in the case.

As Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute vice president for litigation, states, “This is a victory for minority and low-income schoolchildren, not only in Louisiana but around the country.”