Blogger Lamar White pummels Louisiana school chief John White in a weekend letter to the editor to the Times-Picayune, crushing his absurd claims that the voucher program is nothing but an embarrassing, unconstitutional boondoggle created to deprive public schools of critical funding:
On July 1 The Times-Picayune reported, “out of the 117 schools participating in the state’s student voucher program … only one violated rules for using taxpayer money.” Although it is true only one school, New Living Word in Ruston, was removed from the program for “violating rules,” the two audits actually reveal that Louisiana’s voucher program is plagued by an alarming and systemic disregard for accountability, transparency and competence.
The Times-Picayune failed to note 107 of the 117 schools (or 91.4 percent) could not or would not furnish records related to their expenditure of taxpayer dollars, primarily because these schools did not maintain separate accounts for voucher funds. The independent auditor could not effectively determine whether those voucher schools were in compliance. Despite Superintendent John White’s claims to the contrary, the audit also revealed at least 13 schools were overcharging voucher students, a clear violation of the rules.
Lamar goes on to smoke out White’s spin as a desperate ploy to avoid the scrutiny this program deserves:
Superintendent White’s spin on this story is brazenly disingenuous; the two audits did not demonstrate the Department of Education’s commitment to “accountability.” If anything, in claiming that 116 of the 117 audited schools were in compliance, Superintendent White is implicitly promoting a system devoid of accountability and ripe for abuse. If New Living Word School had been savvy, it would have simply deposited its voucher money into its general account, and no one would be the wiser.
The people of Louisiana deserve better. Instead of reinvesting in our shared civic institutions and re-dedicating ourselves to a robust, competitive and quality public education system, we are draining millions of precious dollars into fly-by-night church schools, many of which refuse to teach basic science. Fundamentally, this issue is not about political ideology; it’s about priorities and results. Sen. Bob Kostelka, a Republican, recently lamented Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of $4 million in critically important services for the developmentally disabled. “Yet he (Jindal) put $30 million to $40 million more in the school voucher program that is unworkable,” Kostelka said. As we now know, the voucher program is not only unworkable, it is completely unaccountable.
Lamar White Jr.