Last spring, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the state’s Republican legislature thought they had found a way to wrest tax dollars away from the public schools and give them to private, mostly religious ones, instead. The plan to use vouchers to gut public education was pushed to approval over the objections of Democrats and teachers’ unions.
On Friday, state District Judge Tim Kelley of Baton Rouge ruled on a lawsuit filed against the legislation by Louisiana’s two largest teacher unions and the state’s school boards association. He determined that the law, which took effect with the fall semester, is unconstitutional. Louisiana’s constitution clearly states:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education must “annually develop and adopt a formula which shall be used to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools…”
This is called the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula.
Judge Kelley took exception to Act 2 of Jindal’s law, which allows funds to be taken out of the MFP funds and given to private schools through a voucher system. In his ruling, Kelley stated:
“Vital public dollars raised and allocated for public schools through the MFP cannot be lawfully diverted to nonpublic schools or entities… This Court does not propose to foreclose the State from establishing educational programs that are funded outside the constitutional limitations of the Minimum Foundation Program.”
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