As expected, Louisiana's largest teachers association, some of its local chapters, and four individual public school teachers have filed two state lawsuits challenging the primary portions of the sweeping education overhaul that Gov. Bobby Jindal signed in April.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers argues on several fronts that the courts should strike down tenure and other personnel changes, along with a statewide program that will use the public school-financing formula to finance private school tuition grants.
A suit challenging the tenure and personnel law is filed against the state of Louisiana. The challenge of the voucher program names the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as the defendant. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office will have primary responsibility to defend the laws in both cases, though it is not immediately clear whether he will enlist private sector counsel to handle the matters. Both cases are filed in the 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge.
Perhaps the most significant legal question in the cases concerns the voucher program. Mirroring the argument that teachers union leaders made during the recently concluded session, the voucher suit cites the constitutional passage concerning the school financing formula known as the Minimum Foundation Program. Jindal's plan allows qualified students -- determined by household income and the quality of a child's current public school -- to receive private school tuition aid from the MFP, with the aid not to exceed the per-pupil spending. The law also allows the state to pay MFP financing to independent "course providers" and colleges from which high school students take courses outside their full-time schools.