Jindal defends vouchers in ad

By MICHELLE MILLHOLLON

mmillhollon@theadvocate.com

Gov. Bobby Jindal reached into his campaign fund to launch a television ad campaign Friday against the federal government’s legal intervention in the state’s school voucher program.

“The federal government in Washington is out of control. Now they want to run our schools. The know-it-alls in Washington think they know better than Louisiana parents,” Jindal said in the ad, which is available on YouTube.

The governor asked viewers to log onto his website, www.bobbyjindal.com, and sign a petition protesting the federal government’s action.

The governor’s political adviser, Timmy Teepell, said the ad will start airing statewide Monday. Teepell said the governor spent roughly $500,000 in campaign funds to air the ad for several weeks.

“We’re working hard to figure out ways to get the feds to drop this lawsuit. So we think the best thing to do is to take the case to the people,” Teepell said.

Teepell would not comment on whether the governor is nervous about the outcome of the federal government’s legal efforts.

The case is before U.S. District Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans. Lemelle is the same judge who granted an injunction on the voucher program in Tangipahoa Parish, saying it conflicted with the parish’s decades-old desegregation suit.

The governor is making a strong push against the federal government’s attempt to temporarily cease the voucher program that currently sends 8,000 children in Louisiana to private schools.

Earlier in the week, Jindal flew to Washington, D.C., where he told the National Press Club that the Obama administration is “cynical, immoral, hypocritical and more.”

At issue is the U.S. Justice Department’s attempt to restrict Louisiana from continuing the voucher program for students who otherwise would attend public schools under federal desegregation orders. The issue, which focuses on students in 13 school districts, is before the federal court.

Vouchers use state taxdollars to send children in public schools rated C, D or F, and who meet other conditions, to private schools. The current program is an expansion of a pilot program that started in Orleans Parish.

The Justice Department contends that consent from a federal judge overseeing desegregation orders is needed to continue the voucher program. The legal filing drew pushback from Jindal, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others.

Jindal’s ad can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbddB9SR90A&utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Gov.+Jindal+in+New+Ad%3a++Let+Washington+Know+Louisiana+Parents+Know+Best&utm_content=To+view+the+ad%2c+click+here