This photograph shows Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with Brian Ridgley, Jr., one of the beneficiaries of the Louisiana school voucher program. Brian, a fifth grader at The Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School in New Orleans, is one of the students whom Attorney General Eric Holder tried to block when the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice filed a motion in August of last year asking a federal judge to stop Louisiana “from awarding any school vouchers…to students attending school in districts operating under federal desegregation orders.”
Holder was trying to use a 40-year-old court order to prevent Louisiana from giving students like Brian the chance to improve their education—which is what the original, outdated desegregation orders were intended to accomplish. These laws were put in place to stop official, government discrimination by school officials in Louisiana—not prevent school choice by parents trying to improve their children’s education.
Nine out of 10 students who use this voucher program are African-American like Brian. The scholarship program applies to any low-income family who would otherwise be assigned to a school that, under the state’s accountability system, is rated as “failing.” Families receiving a voucher can use it to attend any private or high-performing public school. According to a 2013 survey by the Black Alliance for Educational Options, about 1200 students receive vouchers, and 94 percent of parents are satisfied with the program.