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Judge rules against Jindal voucher plans

By Emily Stephan
On March 11, 2014

  • Students participate in various projects during the Big Event 2013 replacing sod, painting houses and filling needs of the campus and community. The 2014 Big event will be held on Saturday, March 15, serving Hammond and surrounding communities. Nicole Koster

Two years ago, Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed controversial plans, often referred to by the name of Acts 1 and 2, to overhaul the education system in Louisiana. These plans involved ending regular annual pay increases for the state's educators as well as starting up a state-funded voucher program.
However, Jindal's plans for educational renovation was challenged by District Judge Ivan Lemelle. He ruled that the proposed laws overhauling the regular teacher tenure practices and permitting state-funded private school vouchers for certain students in public schools to be unconstitutional concepts.
Legislators who oppose the bill agreed with Lemelle's assessment that the government should not interfere with private schools and the money to be used on these vouchers should not be taken away from the funding for public education.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently looked over the issue regarding Acts 1 and 2. They ended up disagreeing with Lemelle's conclusion by saying that there was no evidence that the case had or would violate federal laws or the state constitution itself.
In spite of this ruling, the controversy over this proposed education overhaul has yet to evaporate and rages on well after it was announced in 2012. During the appeals court ruling, a small panel of judges stated the idea of funding private school tuitions through public school funding was already declared contrary to the Constitution by the Louisiana Legislature and the state courts.
In response to all the controversy and debate, the Jindal administration is deciding to take the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Another related appeal is being planned for a state district judge's ruling in Monroe, where a teacher facing unemployment has sued.
Judge Benjamin Jones has ruled that the teacher's constitutional rights were violated by the process limitations the law places on the court reviews of these terminations.

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