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GOP Leaders Demand Answers on Administration’s Attempt to Shut Down Louisiana Private School Choice Program

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2013
House Republican leaders today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing concerns about the Obama administration’s effort to shut down a successful private school choice program in Louisiana that is providing hope to students and families.

Signed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN), the letter states:

The department’s allegation that the Louisiana Program could impede the desegregation process is extremely troubling and paradoxical in nature. If DOJ is successful in shutting down this invaluable school choice initiative, not only will students across Louisiana be forced to remain in failing schools, but it could have a reverberating effect and cause other states to feel pressured to shut down similar initiatives that provide countless children the opportunity to receive a better education…Instead of undermining choice and opportunity in education, the administration should support state and local efforts to provide more education options… We strongly urge you to consider the effects of this poorly conceived motion on the very children you profess to be protecting.

The letter from Republican leaders requested detailed information about the department’s ill-conceived decision, including an explanation of how its attempt to revoke scholarships and eliminate education choices will help low-income and minority children access better education opportunities. Additionally, the leaders asked for all written correspondence between the department and the administration – as well as correspondence between the department and outside interest groups – regarding the Louisiana Program.

BACKGROUND: On August 22, the Department of Justice filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to prevent the state of Louisiana from offering private school choice opportunities to children in school districts with existing desegregation orders.  Specifically, the motion targets the Louisiana Student Scholarships for Education Excellence Program, which awards private school scholarships to children of all races who meet strict income limits and are either entering Kindergarten or enrolled in a school that has received a C, D, or F ranking on the state accountability system. Of the 5,000 scholarships distributed by the Louisiana Program last year, 91 percent went to minority students.

To read the letter, click here.

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