Letter: Own up to flawed voucher law

As reported in The Advocate on Dec. 4, Superintendent of Education John White said that teacher unions, including the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, have chosen to get in the way of student achievement.

The superintendent is quoted as saying, “The decision that their leadership has made to try to get in the way of parents choosing what is best for their kids is I think a very regrettable one. So I would say that, by definition, at this moment in time those organizations have chosen to get in the way of student achievement.”

The superintendent apparently defines an anti-student position “at this time” our challenge of the constitutionality of the voucher scheme, specifically the manner in which it was funded. Since Judge Tim Kelley ruled that spending funds constitutionally dedicated to public elementary and secondary education did indeed violate the Louisiana Constitution, one must assume that the superintendent now counts Judge Kelley among those standing in the way of children.

In one narrow sense, we do confess to standing in the way, but not in the way of children. We stand, along with many others, in the way of adults who have chosen to ignore the constitution and who have attempted to short circuit the democratic process.

For the record, neither the Louisiana Federation of Teachers nor Judge Kelley conceived or drafted the flawed legislation. Neither Judge Kelley nor the LFT locked teachers out on the steps of the Capitol when the legislation was presented during the opening days of the session. Neither Judge Kelley nor the Louisiana Federation of Teachers argued for parental choice without public accountability.

On June 7, The Advocate editorial noted in its headline “Jindal behind funding chaos in education,” and continued with the following opening sentence, “The much hyped ‘education session’ ended as it began, in chaotic legislative debate that dodged constitutional problems with steering to private schools the public money that has been constitutionally dedicated for decades to public schools.” The editorial included a number of other memorable observations, which include: “departure from past practice is about winning a legislative fight, not crafting a better education”; “Short cuts were the order of the day, right up to the MFP fight on the last day of the session”; and the really summative, “What a mess.”

On Nov. 30, Judge Kelley, described as a conservative jurist, ruled as the LFT believed and The Advocate had opined, the Louisiana Constitution was clear and the scheme was unconstitutional.

Now, isn’t it time for a bit of introspection and reflection on the part of those charged with driving the train? Tagging Judge Kelley as “wrong-headed” and the LFT as a “hindrance” strongly suggests that no responsibility has been taken and nothing has been learned.

Steve Monaghan, president

Louisiana Federation of Teachers

Baton Rouge