We will have to wait for court challenges to be resolved before we know whether Bobby Jindal’s voucher plan meets the requirements of both the Louisiana state constitution (which says that public money is for public schools) and the U.S. Constitution, which says nothing about education.
The U.S. Supreme Court did uphold a voucher plan in Cleveland a decade ago, and this blogger analyzes whether Louisiana’s plan meets the same criteria. (Of course, no one now points to Cleveland as an example of the benefits of vouchers, but that’s another story.)
But what we know now is that the offer of vouchers did not provoke a stampede for the exits, as voucher advocates have claimed for more than half a century. We have heard again and again about all those poor kids trying desperately to escape their failing schools. We now know that this claim is false. Only 2% of all those eligible to get a state-funded voucher even asked for one. 98% made a choice to stay where they are.
So much for voucher mythology.
And we also know that many of the voucher schools are poorly equipped, under-resourced, and offer a meager and/or faith-based curriculum that will not prepare children for the 21st century.
Louisiana has become a national laughing stock because of its voucher program. I take that back. Louisiana has become an international laughing stock, as media in other nations published stories about the schools using textbooks saying the Loch Ness monster proves that evolution never happened.
Whether it passes muster in court is important, because of the implications for similar raids on the public budget. But ultimately we have learned something perhaps even more important: The public is not clamoring for vouchers, and if we want to create a future for our children and our society, we should build the best public schools in the world.