A federal judge ruled against Louisiana in a case against the state’s scholarship program on Friday, requiring federal oversight for the program that allows children to escape failing schools.
The ruling may lead to a lengthy review process preferred by the Justice Department (DOJ), which Gov. Bobby Jindal (R.) says could regulate the program to death.
The decision was the latest in a legal battle between the Obama administration and the state, dating back to August. The DOJ first requested a permanent injunction on the basis that the program “impedes desegregation” wanting future vouchers to be handed out by a federal judge.
The government abandoned
that request earlier this week, opting instead to seek federal supervision over the program.
Judge Ivan Lemelle sided
with the DOJ on Friday, saying “the Court has an obligation [...] to take reasonable steps in the process whereby the voucher program is not being used to promote segregation.”
Lemelle said the two parties would have 60 days to come up with a reporting process for a conference on Jan. 22.
Judge Lemelle added that whatever the sides come up with, it cannot be “so arduous it scuttles the voucher program,” according to the Times Picayune.
The judge said he did not want to disrupt the program, pointing to a state analysis
that found that the program actually improves desegregation efforts.
“We’re pleased the Judge acknowledged that data provided by the state show the program does not have a negative impact on desegregation,” Jindal said in a statement
. “We are also glad the Judge made clear he does not want to disrupt the scholarship program. The Judge has indicated he wants both parties to determine a process that does not allow the scholarship program to send state aid to segregated private schools.”
“The state already ensures that the scholarship program does not provide state funds to segregated private schools,” he said.
The DOJ’s process would require the state to provide information on all student applicants for vouchers 45 days before any are awarded, as well as information of students already enrolled in the program.
The data would include name, race, student I.D. number, address, and the public school district the student would be leaving.
If the government is not satisfied with the data provided and believes a voucher would disrupt the racial balance of a school, they could then request “the assistance” of the court to try to stop individual parent applications.
Jon Riches, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute representing parents who tried to intervene
in the case, told the Washington Free Beacon
that the DOJ’s plan would harm the scholarship program.
“It’s clearly a burden,” he said. “It’s going to be impossible for the state to provide all the information.”
“Whatever [the DOJ’s] view is, if they think the voucher prevented racial integration then they could go after individual vouchers,” Riches said.
“The fact that the DOJ is still persisting on seeking the court’s assistance in going after individual vouchers is a threat to the voucher program,” he said.
Jindal was adamant about not letting the administration interfere with individual cases.
“We will draw a hard line against allowing the federal government to control the scholarship program and handpick schools for Louisiana’s children,” he said.
“No parent should have to get the president’s permission—no matter which party that president is in—just to put their kid in the school of their choice.” http://tinyurl.com/l2ogsbu
Personnel is policy, and the Obama administration knows it. That’s why they hired swarms
of committed leftist lawyers to populate the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Bobby Jindal and school choice advocates are finding out the hard way how it works.
Mike Flynn at Breitbart covers
a lawsuit filed last week to block school choice in Louisiana by the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division. (Copy of complaint is here
.) The lawsuit alleges that school choice in Louisiana means too many white kids are going to private schools. Never mind the fact that black children can do the same thing.
People regularly underestimate the enormous power held by radical bureaucrats. People often wrongly assume Eric Holder or President Obama are masterminding these radical and absurd policies. They are wrong. Holder and his downstream political appointees often only green-light radical legal theories cooked up by lifelong radicals.
So let’s meet the lifelong radicals attacking
Bobby Jindal’s state education policies, as profiled in the PJ Media Every Single One
series. Anurima Bhargava
: Ms. Bhargava was hired as the new chief of the Section after working for the previous six years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Although her days were likely busy there, she managed to find time to make a $250 contribution to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. She also produced the “Jazz for Obama” concert back in October 2008.
During her tenure at the NAACP LDF she litigated cases across the country seeking to defend and expand the use of racial preferences and racial quotas in public secondary schools and universities. One of the highlights of her work was her coordination of the filing of amicus briefs and other advocacy efforts in support of two Supreme Court cases
in which liberal coalitions insisted that local schools be permitted to assign public students to different schools on the basis of race. Fortunately, the Supreme Court rejected this argument as unconstitutional.
In remarks to the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues (yes, such a waste of time and money really does exist) just before joining the Justice Department, Ms. Bhargava described how imperative it was for schools to promote “integration and social cohesion” by considering race, language, immigration status, and religion in placement decisions. Imagine what your communities would be like if courts actually permitted government bureaucrats to engage in such racial engineering.
One wonders if she has even read the Constitution. This woman is running
the Educational Opportunities Section.
When it comes to the rights of non-traditional minorities, like whites, Ms. Bhargava’s ideology of inclusion begins to crumble. Indeed, after the Bush Civil Rights Division negotiated a consent decree with Southern Illinois University
to end racially discriminatory paid fellowships for which white graduates were told they were not eligible based on their skin color, Ms. Bhargava publicly blasted
the decision as “hinder[ing] the legitimate efforts of colleges and universities to create equal educational opportunity.”
And some deniers still think this Justice Department will enforce the law to protect all Americans from racial discrimination.
Shortly thereafter, she was ironically honored
for her aggressive battles to prevent state referendums (i.e., real democracy at work) opposing racial preferences. Once again, rights for me, but not for thee.
Her prior work experience includes a fellowship with the ACLU and service as the field director for the election campaign of ultra-liberal Democratic Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey. In addition, she remains a member
(along with the militant Lani Guinier) of the advisory board of the Center for Institutional and Social Change
, whose must-see website is testament to the detached dribble of left-wing activism. The group states that “through a multi-level systems approach, [its] research develops the capacity to sustain and ‘scale up’ initiatives aimed at building the ‘architecture of inclusion.’” It adds that its “collaborative projects develop frameworks, strategies, and roles designed to maximize the impact and influence of initiatives that advance full participation, innovative public problem solving, and institutional reimagination [sic!] — a set of linked goals we refer to as ‘institutional citizenship.’”
Now Ms. Bhargava gets to impose that Orwellian “institutional citizenship” on the rest of us from her new perch in the Civil Rights Division. Torey Cummings:
Ms. Cummings joined the Education Section as a trial attorney from a large private practice law firm, where she performed significant pro bono work representing terrorist detainees
at Guantanamo Bay and death row inmates. This is a trend among new Holder DOJ employees. Never mind the fact every detainee can obtain a highly qualified federal public defender, these attorneys rushed to represent America’s enemies for free. She previously worked as a staff attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and as a project assistant at the Wellesley College Centers for Women, where she was able to utilize her social work degree. http://tinyurl.com/kbmhzhv
The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana in New Orleans federal court
to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders. The first year of private school vouchers "impeded the desegregation process," the federal government says.
Thirty-four school systems could be affected, including those of Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes. Under the lawsuit, the state would be barred from assigning students in those systems to private schools unless a federal judge agreed to it. A court hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 19.
The statewide voucher program
, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, lets low-income students in public schools graded C, D or F attend private schools at taxpayer expense. This year, 22 of the 34 systems under desegregation orders are sending some students to private schools on vouchers.
Last year, at least 570 students were affected; the program has expanded since then. The federal petition would require the state to analyze this year's vouchers to see how they affected school desegregation. (Read the petition.
The Justice Department's primary argument is that letting students leave for vouchered private schools can disrupt the racial balance in public school systems that desegregation orders are meant to protect. Those orders almost always set rules for student transfers with the school system.
Federal analysis found that last year's Louisiana vouchers increased racial imbalance in 34 historically segregated public schools in 13 systems. The Justice Department goes so far as to charge that in some of those schools, "the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward integration."
In Tangipahoa Parish, for instance, Independence Elementary School lost five white students to voucher schools, the petition states. The consequent change in the percent of enrolled white students "reinforc(ed) the racial identity of the school as a black school."
While the federal petition would let courts approve vouchers in those school systems next year, Brian Blackwell, attorney for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said it likely would take a lot of time, effort and evidence to persuade the judges.
State Education Superintendent John White took issue with the suit's primary argument and its characterization of the program. Almost all the students using vouchers are black, he said. Given that framework, "it's a little ridiculous" to argue that students' departure to voucher schools makes their home school systems less white, he said. He also thought it ironic that rules set up to combat racism were being called on to keep black students in failing schools.
The voucher program started in New Orleans in 2008. A large number of participants still live in the city.
White also pointed out that the schools in the voucher program must comply with the terms of 1975 court case, Brumfield v. Dodd, that prohibits the state from giving public money to private schools that uphold segregation or discrimination.
The voucher program has been controversial since its inception last year, with multiple suits filed to block it. After the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in May
that the state could not use the money it allots for each student in public schools, Gov. Bobby Jindal found about $40 million in public money elsewhere to cover the almost 8,000 2013-14 enrollees.
Jindal blasted the Justice Department's suit Saturday.
"After generations of being denied a choice, parents finally can choose a school for their child, but now the federal government is stepping in to prevent parents from exercising this right. Shame on them," he said. "Parents should have the ability to decide where to send their child to school."
The case has been assigned to Judge Ivan Lemelle. He ruled in November
that elements of Jindal's 2012 education overhaul were unconstitutional, because paying to implement the voucher program would hurt Tangipahoa Parish's ability to pay for the programs it uses to comply with its federal desegregation order. The state's appeal
in that case is pending. http://tinyurl.com/k2ezcoe
Remember when President Obama famously promised that if you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan? It was a brilliantly crafted political sound bite. Turns out, the statement is untrue.
Aside from that small detail, the slightly larger problem is that the Obama administration doesn't have a health-care plan. Yes, the White House has a law with thousands of pages, but the closer we get to Oct. 1, the day government-mandated health-insurance exchanges are supposed to open, the more we see that the administration doesn't have a legitimate plan to successfully implement the law.
Unworkable. That word best describes ObamaCare. Government agencies in states across the country, whether red or blue, have spent countless hours and incalculable dollars trying to keep the ObamaCare train on its track, but the wreck is coming. And it is the American people who are going to pay the price.
Fifty-five working days before the launch of the ObamaCare health-insurance exchanges on Oct. 1, the administration published a 600-page final rule that employers, individuals and states are expected to follow in determining eligibility for millions of Americans. Rather than lending clarity to a troubled project, the guidelines only further complicated it.
If the experience of those working with the ObamaCare implementation at the state level had been taken into account, progress might have been possible, but the administration has treated states with mistrust. Perhaps that's because we can see that the federal government is repeating mistakes of the past and we know that outcomes rarely reflect what Washington has promised.
Adding to this mounting problem, the guidance that President Obama has offered to date has been inconsistent, arbitrary and frustrating—contributing further to the grave uncertainty that surrounds this law. But not everything about it is uncertain: In February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that seven million Americans will lose their employer-based health insurance as a result of ObamaCare.
On July 12, three of the country's largest unions sent a letter to Democratic leaders in Congress stating that ObamaCare would shatter not only hard-earned health benefits, but also destroy the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class. ObamaCare defines full-time employment as 30 hours per week. No wonder these unions are alarmed: They are widely credited with helping to get the votes to pass this unworkable law.
The administration, recognizing that ObamaCare is a ticking bomb, earlier this month announced that it would delay until 2015 the requirement that businesses offer health-care insurance to their employees or pay a fine. Yet the administration didn't also grant relief to individuals.
Think about that for a moment: The Obama team, for now, has spared employers but not employees. The day of reckoning for businesses is put off, but not for everyday citizens. Many Americans may wonder: On what authority does the administration arbitrarily decide which aspects of a law not to enforce and which ones to keep?
As governors, we have been expressing concern about the unworkability of ObamaCare since its passage in 2010. We have seen the trouble the law poses for our own state economies. The most recent evidence: The government now says that it will not verify the eligibility of individuals who apply for subsidized insurance on the health-care exchanges.
Governors have firsthand experience with implementing public-assistance programs. We know how important it is to care for our most vulnerable citizens and to ensure that people are healthy and able to work. We also know that a one-size-fits-all approach like ObamaCare simply doesn't work. It only creates new problems and inequalities. That's why if you look at all 50 states, you'll see 50 unique ways of handling Medicaid.
Health-care premiums are going up. Many businesses have stopped hiring, to avoid reaching the limit of 50 full-time employees where they are required to offer health benefits. Those businesses that are hiring often take on part-time workers to stay under the full-time cap. Older individuals seeking work are finding that companies are reluctant to take a chance on their potential health-care costs.
These are just a few of the problems resulting from a program that wasn't thought through before it was rushed into law. No wonder we hear that the Obama attack machine is gearing up to blame everyone but the law itself for the chaos that lies ahead.
This law was a bad idea from the start, and the American public never supported it. The Obama team, taking advantage of an unusual two-year window when Democrats controlled all branches of government, foisted upon the country a liberal hodgepodge of unworkable notions that will wreak havoc on American health care. Delaying implementation of ObamaCare, not just the employer mandate, is a reasonable idea. But an even better one would be a complete repeal. http://tinyurl.com/ne58qs8
Growing up in Pakistan in the 1980s, Muhammad Zaman and his family always knew which pharmacy to trust when they got sick. Today, even the pharmacists don’t know whom to trust. Just last year, more than 200 people in Lahore died after contaminated cardiac medicines containing a toxic amount of an anti-malaria drug hit the city’s supply. More than a thousand got sick. The crisis of poor quality drugs is worst in the developing world, where regulatory oversight is weak and patients are desperate for affordable medicine. Consider this: The World Health Organization says that at least 10 percent to 30 percent of the pharmaceutical market in these countries is compromised. “Everybody in the developing world knows about this problem, but nobody ever does anything about it,” says Zaman, now a biomedical engineer at Boston University.
The bogus-drug trade isn’t just a problem for the world’s poorest patients: About 1 percent of it circulates in the U.S. and other highly industrialized nations. That might not sound like a lot, but hardly a week goes by without federal health officials warning about fake Viagra, Tamiflu, Botox, and others entering the U.S. through Web dealers and importers. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers about fakes of Adderall, the attention-deficit-disorder drug, which contained a powerful painkiller. Now new technology, verification systems, and researchers like Zaman are working to make sure that the drugs people take are what they’re supposed to be.
Detecting dangerous or substandard drugs is generally difficult. Verifying a medication’s manufacturing origin is simple only when it comes from a big, international company with a tracking system in place—and that’s often not the case. When health-care providers in the developing world can afford only drugs that don’t have a built-in security network, it takes valuable time and complicated equipment to analyze their chemical composition. One common solution is Global Pharma Health Fund’s Minilab, an unwieldy system that requires the testers to mix chemicals in beakers and use ultraviolet lamps and a hot plate stored in two heavy suitcases.
Zaman has made a cheap handheld scanner called PharmaCheck to quickly identify fake medicine in villages, clinics, and hospitals. Users (who need only a few days’ training) dissolve samples inside a small beaker in the machine. The liquid then runs onto a microfluidic chip the size of a postage stamp, where it combines with a molecule designed to bind solely with the drug in question. Binding sets off a fluorescent probe, whose light can be analyzed with a cellphone camera. The process reveals how much of the drug is present and how quickly it dissolves, and takes 15 minutes or less. “We can know what we’re dealing with,” Zaman says.
And how much is an important thing to find out. Some drugs are entirely fake—snake oil, sawdust, chalk. But others, particularly those in developing countries, might contain an ineffective amount of medicine or release the right amount in the wrong way; either case is potentially deadly. PharmaCheck is designed to recognize these drugs as well. Too strong a signal right away could mean that the medicine wasn’t made properly and is probably toxic. Too weak a signal means there might not be enough of the active ingredient to be effective (in antibiotics, low doses could lead, over time, to drug-resistant microbes).
Zaman’s PharmaCheck prototype has already been successful in lab tests on oxytocin, a lifesaving drug given to women after childbirth to prevent hemorrhaging. Later this year, his team hopes to publish its findings and build several more devices for field tests. Zaman and his collaborators are looking for a commercial partner to produce the devices in larger quantities and at prices low enough for practical use.
Meanwhile, the FDA is ramping up deployment of its own handheld scanners, which detect a drug’s active ingredient and determine its provenance via form and packaging. Called CD-3, the device shines ultraviolet to infrared light on an object as it captures an image. The user compares that image to one of a genuine sample. If the two don’t look the same, then they’re presumably made of different materials or ingredients.
The FDA has about 30 CD-3 devices deployed at international mail facilities, where counterfeit drugs slip into the country, and more at other points of entry. While not as sophisticated as Zaman’s PharmaCheck—CD-3 can’t determine a pill’s dose or how it’s released in the body—FDA officials say the device is great for screening lots of drugs. This spring, the agency signed an agreement with Corning to continue refining CD-3 for later large-scale manufacturing.
A group of chemists from St. Mary’s College in Indiana and Notre Dame has gotten into the detective game, too. Its convenient and still-unnamed product—a lab on a piece of paper the size of a business card—directly detects a drug’s ingredients. (Each paper can detect one type of drug.) Rub some crushed Tylenol or anti-malarial on it, for example, dip it in water, and the results are rendered in colors. Users then send a photo of the paper to an automatic Web service for a “real” or “fake” response. The team has applied for patents and is looking for a company to help commercialize its invention. Its goal is less than a dollar per test. And at that price, it’s potentially the cheapest system yet. http://tinyurl.com/mplapz7
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.) on Sunday proposed delay the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare reform law to help offset the looming sequester cuts.
“The president needs to step up to the plate and say to Congress, 'Here's how you can cut $85 billion.' "
I've got an idea for him,” said Jindal on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Just delay the Medicaid expansions, delay the health care exchanges so they can work with states on waivers, on flexibility. You could save tens of billions of dollars there by-- and you're not even cutting a program that's started yet. Just delay it for a few years.”
Jindal has been a strong critic of the president’s signature healthcare reform bill, and has said his state will not participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion.The Louisiana governor’s comments come ahead of the $85 billion in across-the-board sequester cuts set to take effect on Friday.
President Obama has made a public push to pressure GOP lawmakers into backing a plan to offset the automatic cuts with a deficit-reduction package of targeted spending cuts and new tax revenues. But Republicans say they will only replace the sequester with other cuts, not tax hikes.
The White House has sought to rally public support by warning of the real-world impact of the cuts, claiming that the budget axe will cost teachers their jobs, weaken military preparedness, delay air travelers and result in healthcare programs being scaled back.
Jindal on Sunday charged the administration with trying to frighten voters and not focusing on working with lawmakers.
“It’s time to stop campaigning,” said the governor. “Stop sending out your cabinet secretaries to scare the American people. Roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of governing.”
Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan that would offset the sequester with cuts and tax revenues, from closing loopholes and deductions and from a minimum tax on millionaires, but the measure is unlikely to garner GOP support. http://tinyurl.com/ag8up2w
A Louisiana judge struck down the state’s voucher program for charter schools, slamming the brakes on the most ambitious of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reforms.
The tuition voucher unconstitutionally channeled public funds to private schools by allowing students to choose what school to attend, according to Louisiana District Court Judge Tim Kelley. The ruling is a victory for the Louisiana teachers’ union, which stridently opposed the voucher program since its inception last spring.
Jindal described the opponents of his reforms as a “coalition of the status quo” in an interview
with The Daily Caller News Foundation in October.
“The coalition of the status quo has fought reform every step of the way, so it is no surprise teacher unions are making this last ditch effort to convince the courts to overrule the vote of the people and the Legislature,” Jindal said through a spokesman in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Institute for Justice, which represented Jindal’s side in the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Education reformers predicted the ruling would be appealed.
“The case is almost certain to go to the Louisiana Supreme Court on appeal given Bobby Jindal’s political investment in the voucher program,” wrote Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News, in an e-mail to The DC News Foundation.
The case did not focus on the merits of school choice, said Pullmann.
“The arguments centered on arcane rules about how the vouchers were funded rather than the merits of a statewide system of school choice,” she wrote.
School choice reforms have gained ground nationally in recent months, winning approval from voters in Washington and Georgia in the 2012 election. Though many prominent Democrats have joined with Republicans in supporting voucher programs, a key Democratic constituency — teachers’ unions — remains firmly against them. President Obama also opposes school choice. http://tinyurl.com/d99y5h7
Fresh off accepting the GOP presidential nod, Mitt Romney took on more of a presidential posture Friday, reworking his schedule so he could fly to Louisiana to survey the damage from Isaac — beating President Obama to the punch.The former Massachusetts governor met with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter - both fellow Republicans - and thanked first responders in nearby Jean LaFitte, La., parts of which remain under several feet of water from the storm.
“I’m here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what’s going here,” Mr. Romney told Mr. Jindal. “So that people around the country know that people done here need help.”
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, made an official appearance at Fort Bliss, Texas, where opened his remarks by saying this thoughts and prayers were with those who were in the path of the storm and assuring the audience that he has directed the federal government to “keep doing everything that it can to help.”
The White House also announced that Mr. Obama would tour the damage caused to the area on Monday and press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the president planned to travel to the region before Mr. Romney made his move.
Hurricane Isaac landed in the area almost two years to the day that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. This time New Orleans avoided the same levels of damage, though 800,000 people lost power and the city’s surrounding suburbs bared the brunt of the storm.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said that Mr. Romney visit to the area, was the hypocritical because the House Republicans spending plan that Mr. Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan supported would have cut disaster relief spending.
Stuart Stevens, a top Romney adviser, shrugged off the attacks. “I don’t understand why it would be inappropriate,” he said of the visit. “It is not a political thing.”
Mr. Romney was originally scheduled to take a three-state battleground campaign swing that would have taken him from here to Virginia and then to Ohio.
But before his appearance here, the Romney campaign announced that he would instead deploy Mr. Ryan to the event in Virginia.
“Mitt right now is in Louisiana meeting with victims of the hurricane, bringing attention to those who are in Isaac’s path so that we can make sure that people send their prayers and their dollars to the Red Cross and the charities because there are people there that need our help,” Mr. Ryan said. http://tinyurl.com/9bh5q6f
President Obama has declared a state of emergency for the state of Louisiana Monday afternoon, and “ordered federal aid to supplement local and state response” in a statement from the White House. Gov. Bobby Jindal says the state of Louisiana requested a preemptive disaster declaration, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says is still pending.
Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane
along the Gulf Coast Wednesday, somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans.
“We sent a letter to yesterday to the federal government requesting a pre-landfall declaration,” Jindal wrote on Twitter
, amid updates about disaster preparations. “FEMA says it’s still pending.”
Louisiana began evacuating individual parishes, nursing homes, and prisons over the weekend and has continued Monday, and has opened shelters in the state. http://tinyurl.com/8ceeydb