Testimony continued Thursday in the
battle over Governor Bobby Jindal's school voucher program. That's
despite the fact that Judge Tim Kelley told lawyers he didn't think the
testimony was necessary.
Penny Dastugue, the President of the Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education, was one of three to testify on
Thursday. She says the purpose of the voucher program is not only to
allow parents to take their child out of a low-performing school, but also to
allow that failing school to improve to the point that a parent would choose to
Dastugue also testified that one-third of
Louisiana schools are considered failing. But when asked if the private
and parochial schools are better at helping a child improve, her response:
"I believe in the power of parent choice."
Bill Maurer, with the Institute for Justice,
says the constitution requires government to create an equitable distribution
of funds and derive a formula to come up with those funds. Maurer
represents a group of parents who support the voucher program. He says
what this case boils down to is money, not whether the program follows the
"What they are losing are
students. And the students are having to leave these schools because
they're failing and under performing. They seem to think they're entitled
to money for students that aren't there," said Maurer.
Brian Blackwell, the attorney who represents
the Louisiana Association of Educators, told the judge that several parishes,
including: East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Bienville, Caldwell, Jackson,
Jefferson, Lafayette and more are paying more money to fund the voucher program
that the state is.
The formula for deciding the funding is
supposed to be 65/35. 65 percent from the state, 35 from the local school
"Important fact to bring to courts
attention that it actually is costing local school districts more in some areas
of the state than costing the state for a state program that's been imposed
upon local districts," said Blackwell.
arguments for the case start Friday morning.
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