by Edd Doerr
School vouchers -- the favorite device of the Religious Right, conservatives and pseudo-reformers for undermining religious liberty, public education and democracy by diverting public funds to religious private schools -- took three serious hits in November.
1. Florida voters on Nov 6 defeated proposed Amendment 8 by 55 to 45. It was intended to weaken religious freedom and church-state separation in the state constitution and allow school vouchers, a favorite project of former governor Jeb Bush, who aspires to run for president in 2016. (Weren't two Bushes enough?) The Florida vote was the 27th (27th!) defeat for school vouchers in statewide referenda from coast to coast by superlandslide margins.
2. Indiana voters defeated Republican state school superintendent Tony Bennett and elected teacher and Democrat Glenda Ritz to the post. Bennett had made clear his contempt for teachers, teacher unions, religious freedom and the state constitution by, among other things, supporting Gov Mitch Daniels' 2011 school voucher law.
3. Louisiana federal court judge Ivan Lemelle on Nov 26 shot down Gov Bobby Jindal's 2012 school voucher law for Tangipahoa Parish (County) as conflicting with a decades-old desegregation ruling. State school supt John White, whose dislike for teachers and public education is well known, whined that the ruling would be reversed on appeal. A state court will shortly hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the voucher law.
For a complete picture of the school voucher controversy see my article "The Great School Voucher Fraud" on the Americans for Religious Liberty web site -- arlinc.org. A slightly modified version of the article, "The School Voucher Crisis", may be accessed on the Center for Inquiry web site.