By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times
Two decades ago, while George H.W. Bush was still president, Republican governors like Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin began in earnest their long-brewing war on underperforming public schools.
Now Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and GOP executives in a few other states are taking conservatives back to the future with the most extensive public schools scholarship and voucher program in the nation’s history.
The idea remains to force each bad public school in America to improve or perish in face of private or charter school competition.
Teacher unions are major sources of campaign contributors and volunteers for the Democratic Party and its candidates, from the local city council to the U.S. presidency. The unions pressed national Democrats and President Obama to squash Mr. Jindal’s program, which overwhelmingly benefits blacks and other minorities. The administration’s rational, carried out by Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., was to claim that vouchers threaten to undo desegregation.
Black parents, however, turned the tables and petitioned to join with Mr. Jindal in a lawsuit to get the Justice Department to drop its opposition. Earlier this month the administration reversed course and dropped its efforts to secure a permanent injunction preventing the vouchers from being used.
The move generated headlines making it seem as if parents’ freedom to choose their children’s schools and competition in educational institutions had triumphed.
But Mr. Jindal is warning the administration’s action was a temporary reprieve and not a gift that would keep on giving.
Mr. Jindal notes that Mr. Holder simply dropped a permanent-injunction request in favor of a government review. And he warns the outcome could smother the voucher program with excessive regulation instead.