Pelican Institute Statement on DOJ Attempt to Block School Vouchers in Louisiana
Preventing children from attending the school of their choice does not advance the cause of civil rights
The United States Justice Department is suing to block Louisiana’s voucher program in districts under desegregation orders. The Justice Department argues that vouchers “impeded the desegregation process” in these districts.
We believe this action is unjust for several reasons:
- While the federal government has an important role to play in protecting civil rights, this action would curtail the right of parents to select the best school for their child. The Justice Department is therefore limiting freedom rather than expanding it, a curious way to advance civil rights in America.
- One of the primary objectives of desegregation was to expand opportunity. This Justice Department action denies opportunity to students who are trapped in mediocre or failing schools. A government that prioritizes racial bean counting over tangible educational opportunities is ignoring the forest for the trees.
- The Justice Department action has the effect of treating children like pieces on a chessboard, to be shuffled around at the whims of lawyers and bureaucrats. The federal government should focus on protecting fundamental rights, not micromanaging school districts that ceased segregation efforts long ago.
While children of all races suffer when denied freedom and opportunity, the fact that the vast majority of Louisiana’s voucher recipients are black highlights the absurdity of this action. Expanding school choice is a natural next step in the movement for civil rights and it has widespread appeal because it empowers parents and children rather than politicians and bureaucrats. It is therefore appalling that a federal agency charged with protecting our civil rights would use its considerable powers to deny Louisiana children access to a better education. The Justice Department should reconsider this destructive action.