Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has had some choice words for the Department of Justice recently, ever since DOJ filed a lawsuit to partially block implementation of Louisiana's school vouchers program.
On Wednesday, he took his anger to the Washington Post op-ed page, describing the suit as "a complete rejection of [Martin Luther] King's dream."
Jindal urged President Barack Obama to withdraw the case:
"President Obama should do the right thing and order the Justice Department to drop the lawsuit. Not because I am asking, but because the parents and children in the scholarship program deserve an opportunity. For generations, the government has forced these families to hope for the best from failing schools. Shame on all of us for standing by and watching generations of children stay in failing schools that may have led them to lives of poverty."
The Louisiana Scholarship Program would allows students in weak public schools to transfer into private schools using taxpayer-funded vouchers. In its lawsuit, DOJ argues that such transfers could upset the racial balance in some public schools still under federal desegregation orders. The lawsuit specifically seeks to stop Louisiana from awarding vouchers to students in 34 schools.
But according to Jindal, DOJ is abandoning students in failing institutions. At an Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference last week, he called the lawsuit "atrocious."
Jindal's Washington Post op-ed came out the same day that Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was "not familiar" with the DOJ lawsuit when asked about it in an interview on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show."
"That's between the Department of Justice and the state of Louisiana," said Duncan.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has also criticized the suit. As chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, he said in a statement, "This is another intrusion by the federal government on families' personal decisions. Parents who wish to send their child to a better school should not have to seek approval from Washington."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the sponsor of the conference at which Gov. Jindal spoke on Aug. 30. The conference was sponsored by the educational nonprofit Americans for Prosperity Foundation, not the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.