Sua Sponte: NSBA urges Louisiana Supreme Court to find state’s voucher program harms public education
On March 18, 2013, NSBA filed an amicus curiae brief in Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana, Nos. 2013-CA-0120 and -0232, now before the Louisiana Supreme Court. The state supreme court will review the decision by the 19th Judicial District Court as to whether the state’s private school voucher program, known as Act 2, violates state constitutional provisions governing the annual education funding formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP). In that decision, the district court stated that the “MFP was set up for students attending public elementary and secondary schools and was never meant to be diverted to private educational providers.”
The thrust of NSBA’s brief is that the voucher program harms public education because: (1) it conflicts with the judiciary’s longstanding commitment to public education as an inherent American value; (2) the voucher program’s diversion of public dollars away from public schools harms the children of Louisiana; (3) its lack of accountability harms Louisiana taxpayers; and (4) the voucher program threatens the ability of school districts to comply with mandatory desegregation plans.
NSBA also warns the state supreme court that it should not allow Louisiana to become part of a disturbing national effort by special interest groups to undermine public education by diverting public tax dollars to private institutions. The brief points out that private hands are the true beneficiaries of the state’s current voucher program, and urges the state supreme court not to lend credence to the national voucher movement.
The brief was written by NSBA General Counsel Francisco Negrón and Deputy General Counsel Naomi Gittins. NSBA is being represented before the Louisiana Supreme Court by attorney Charles L. Patin, Jr., of Kean Miller LLP, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
[Editor's Note: In December 2012, Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in The Washington Post, which reported that Governor Bobby Jindal’s voucher program that uses tax dollars to send students to private schools had been ruled unconstitutional by a state judge who said it is improperly funded through the public school financing formula. Judge Tim Kelley sided with arguments presented by teachers’ unions and school boards seeking to shut down the voucher program that would funnel money away from traditional public schools.]