Days after commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the Obama Administration filed suit against the Louisiana Scholarship Program, which has provided thousands of low-income children more opportunity to make their dreams reality.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed suit to stop the program, claiming that it impedes upon “the desegregation process.” However, as Heritage explains in this Backgrounder, the DOJ’s attempt to undermine the scholarship program could keep low-income children confined to poor-performing schools. The program was expanded for the 2013–2014 school year to offer 8,000 scholarships to low-income children.
The stories of families of scholarship recipients in Louisiana, published by the Louisiana Federation for Children, show that children flourish with choice:
Coretta Pittman’s six-year-old son, Elias, is one recipient. Coretta doesn’t want him to be “another statistic.” With the scholarship, Coretta believes he won’t be. She was able to match him with a school with a better learning environment that better fits his needs.
Lakisha is mother to scholarship recipient, nine-year-old Albert Fuselier. Lakisha says at Albert’s old school he “would get upset and act out.” She said that the environment hindered his learning and was not safe. With the scholarship, Albert is now going to a school that meets his needs. “[He feels] much safer,” Lakisha says. “It’s been good for him. The teacher is more patient and more focused on him. He feels confident and more comfortable around his teachers now.”
Jordan Burkes is a ninth-grade scholarship recipient who was miserable at his old school. He was bullied, and his grades spiraled. His mother, Katrina, says at his new school Jordan’s grades have climbed to A’s and B’s. “He’s proud,” she says. “He’s happy. I know, because he told me.”
As a single mother, Shelly Stabile said she could send her now five-year-old son Kaden only to the school defined by district lines. With the scholarship, Shelly has been able to send Kaden to a school that offers more one-on-one care—something important to Shelly. “He’s getting what he needs in life outside the home. It just feels so good as a parent to be able to put him in a school like that through a scholarship program,” she says.
Louisiana has not given up the fight to provide quality educational options to families. Last week, the state asked the Eastern District Court to delay the DOJ’s suit until November 15. “If the administration does not drop this lawsuit, we will fight every step of the way until the children prevail,” says Governor Bobby Jindal. “Giving every child—no matter race or income—the opportunity to get a great education is a moral imperative.”
Parents want the best for their children. Empowering parents with educational choice allows them greater ability to increase their children’s educational opportunities. When the government takes away educational choice, it is doing much more than limiting opportunity: It is limiting a family’s hope for a better future for their child.
Photos courtesy of the Louisiana Federation for Children