Misspending for Youth: School Vouchers in Louisiana Are a Legally Tenuous, Short-Term Fix for a State in Need of Public Education Reform

In 2012, the Louisiana legislature hurriedly passed a law that made a scholarship program previously available only to certain students in New Orleans public schools applicable statewide.  Under this program (Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence), students who attend public schools that receive a “C,” “D,” or “F” grade based on state assessment and who also meet a family-income requirement may elect to use state funds to transfer to another school, public or nonpublic.  The legislature wanted to fund these scholarships with money from the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, a process that the Louisiana Supreme Court found violated the state constitution.  In spite of the tenuous constitutionality of this program that was made clear in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision, the state continues to fund these scholarships.  In so doing, Louisiana disregards the purpose of the drafters of its state constitution and risks violating the United States Constitution and interfering with long-existing federal desegregation orders. This Comment analyzes this scholarship program, compares it to those existing in other states, and considers the legal problems it creates.