Whatever you think of school vouchers, there is not a lot to like in this Department of Justice move in Louisiana to go after a state voucher plan there over desegregation concerns. Lost in the din over the DOJ action is a defensible idea: The administration is trying to stand on principle about the importance of desegregation orders and process. But, this is a lousy way to do it (besides, the real integration action is around school boundary decisions not marginal school choice programs but the middle class politics around boundaries make that one too hot for most politicians to touch).
At a high level, this kind of thing makes it extra challenging for those who support a strong federal role in equity and accountability because it’s a handy foil for those who just want to leave things to the states. More specifically it makes it harder not easier for supporters of policies to try to create better integrated schools because it makes a mockery of those efforts. It’s impossible to have a sensible conversation about integration – racial or economic – without engaging with the underlying demographics in many communities. Yet we continue to try to do so and this is the result.
An action like this also makes clear where the juice is inside the Administration – with DOJ not with any of the policymaking bodies on education at ED or at The White House.