Letter: John White’s hypocrisy runs amok

Governor Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, along with his hand-picked Superintendent of Education, John White, and Republican leaders across the nation have sold the American people a false bill of goods.

On August 23, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a memorandum in a desegregation case involving Louisiana. Jindal, White and national Republican leaders would have us believe the feds came and stood in the doorways of private and religious voucher schools, preventing entry to poor, minority students.

But this is far from the truth. Superintendent White drew the ire of DOJ by refusing to provide data on more than 1,300 Louisiana students receiving vouchers, after he had already failed to ask for court permission for changes in student assignments in districts under active desegregation court orders, something districts under desegregation orders are required to do.

Why? Would this data confirm the DOJ’s worst suspicions? Who knows?

DOJ’s memorandum actually says: “At this time the United States is not asking that this court enjoin the state from awarding any school vouchers.” Perhaps Jindal and White missed that statement “buried” at the top of the second page.

The memorandum goes on to ask that no future vouchers be awarded “unless and until” Louisiana “obtains authorization from the federal courts” and asks the court to direct the state of Louisiana to analyze voucher awards to determine their effect on desegregation, which is normal procedure in desegregation lawsuits.

DOJ is saying, then, that White must follow the law.

Why are the false claims of Jindal, White and other Republican leaders the ultimate hypocrisy?

Because attorneys for White went to federal court June 13 seeking to block low-income African-American families from exercising parental choice in St. Helena Parish, one of the lowest-income districts in the state. White asked the Court to deny choice to those parents who wanted their children out of his “Recovery School District” Middle School. Why?

According to White’s filing: “This court should consider St. Helena’s request looking at it from the desegregation mind-set.” And then: “If St. Helena is allowed to add additional grades to its elementary school and high school that could possibly create a greater desegregation issue rather than helping to remedy the one at hand.”

So the DOJ is attacked for asking that White abide by desegregation orders, and is not denying choice to any parents.

While White, on the other hand, is actually using a desegregation case to deny parents in St. Helena Parish any school choice. This is hypocrisy run amok.

Noel Hammatt

independent education researcher

Baton Rouge