Louisiana's state Supreme Court has ruled that the state's ambitious new private school voucher system can go forward, denying a request to halt the program in its infancy.
Opponents of the voucher model, who include the state's two main teachers' unions, had sought an injunction to stop the program, which the state has already begun implementing. While the legal challenge to the program will continue, the Supreme Court's decision means students and schools taking part in the new system, championed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, can move forward with making use of the vouchers.
The program is expected to serve about 5,600 students this year, and 118 private schools are participating. The Louisiana Association of Educators recently rankled state officials by sending a letter to private schools that threatened them with legal action if they signed up for the program, given the pending legal dispute.
"The courts have sent a clear message that we need to put politics behind us and turn our focus to where it needs to be—on the classroom and not the courtroom," State Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement. "The school year is already under way. It's time to stop trying to prevent parents from making the choices they feel are right and start believing in the people closest to the students."
The Louisiana Association of Educators noted that their challenge to the program, which argues the program violates the state's constitution, is still alive. A district court is expected to hear the case in October.
"This is about protecting the constitutional rights of all Louisiana's school children—not just a select few," LAE President Joyce Haynes said in a statement.