Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, along with his hand picked Superintendent of Education, John White, and Republican leaders across the nation have sold the American people a false bill of goods.
On August 23rd the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Memorandum in a school desegregation case involving Louisiana. Jindal seized upon this Memorandum to regain some national attention (his statewide approval ratings are among the lowest of any governor in the US.) by purposely misreading the filing from the DOJ. Jindal, John White and national Republican leaders would have you and I believe that the feds came and stood in the doorways of private and religious voucher schools, blocking entry to poor, minority students.
But this is far from the truth. Superintendent John White first drew the ire of DOJ by refusing to provide data on more than 1300 Louisiana students receiving vouchers, after he had already failed to ask for court permission for changes in student assignments in districts under active desegregation Court Orders, something districts under desegregation orders are required to do. Why did White not provide the data to the U.S. Department of Justice, especially when Louisiana voucher laws specifically require the State Department of Education to ensure compliance with Desegregation Orders? Would this data confirm the DOJ's worst suspicions? Who knows? White has yet to release any researchable data on the voucher recipients.
What does this volatile DOJ Memorandum actually say? "At this time the United States is not asking that this Court enjoin the State from awarding any school vouchers." Perhaps Jindal and White missed that statement since it was "buried" at the top of the second page of the filing. The Memorandum goes on to ask that no future vouchers be awarded "unless and until" Louisiana "obtains authorization from the Federal Courts" and further asks the Court to direct the State of Louisiana to analyze voucher awards to determine their effect on desegregation, which is normal procedure in desegregation lawsuits. DOJ is merely saying, then, that White must follow the law.
Why are the false claims of Jindal, White and other Republican leaders the ultimate hypocrisy?
Because attorneys for Superintendent of Education JohnWhite went to Federal Court on June 13th seeking to block low-income African-American families from exercising parental choice in St. Helena Parish (Louisiana has Parishes instead of Counties), one of the lowest-income districts in the state. White asked the Court to deny choice to those parents who wanted their children out of his "Recovery School District" Middle School. Why? According to White's filing: "This court should consider St. Helena’s request looking at it from the desegregation mindset." And then: "If St. Helena is allowed to add additional grades to its elementary school and high school that could possibly create a greater desegregation issue rather than helping to remedy the one at hand."
Governor Bobby Jindal, Superintendent John White, and Republican leaders are attacking the United States Department of Justice across the country for merely asking that John White be ordered to abide by desegregation orders. The U.S. DOJ is specifically NOT denying choice to any parents. Superintendent John White, on the other hand, is actually using a desegregation case to deny parents in St. Helena Parish any school choice. This is hypocrisy run amok.