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Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ambitious charter school initiative struck down in court

A Louisiana judge struck down the state’s voucher program for charter schools, slamming the brakes on the most ambitious of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reforms.

The tuition voucher unconstitutionally channeled public funds to private schools by allowing students to choose what school to attend, according to Louisiana District Court Judge Tim Kelley. The ruling is a victory for the Louisiana teachers’ union, which stridently opposed the voucher program since its inception last spring.

Jindal described the opponents of his reforms as a “coalition of the status quo” in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation in October.

“The coalition of the status quo has fought reform every step of the way, so it is no surprise teacher unions are making this last ditch effort to convince the courts to overrule the vote of the people and the Legislature,” Jindal said through a spokesman in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Institute for Justice, which represented Jindal’s side in the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Education reformers predicted the ruling would be appealed.

“The case is almost certain to go to the Louisiana Supreme Court on appeal given Bobby Jindal’s political investment in the voucher program,” wrote Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News, in an e-mail to The DC News Foundation.

The case did not focus on the merits of school choice, said Pullmann.

“The arguments centered on arcane rules about how the vouchers were funded rather than the merits of a statewide system of school choice,” she wrote.

School choice reforms have gained ground nationally in recent months, winning approval from voters in Washington and Georgia in the 2012 election. Though many prominent Democrats have joined with Republicans in supporting voucher programs, a key Democratic constituency — teachers’ unions — remains firmly against them. President Obama also opposes school choice.

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