Obama Administration targets private schools

This article was originally published by the Heartland Institute.

Several commentators have justly piled on the Obama administration’s craven legal challenge to a Louisiana voucher program that offers a way out of rotten schools for predominantly black, poor children. The U.S. Department of Justice’s charge? Vouchers may change, by minuscule percentages, the ratio of black to white children at some schools. Therefore, it’s better to keep all kids in failing schools. Cato’s Andrew Coulson wryly notes this effectively tells black parents their choices hurt black people.

Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal writes, “The evidence from around the country is that vouchers enhance racial integration. Public school attendance is mainly determined by geography, so segregated neighborhoods produce segregated schools.”

There’s more at work here, however. The Obama administration’s Louisiana lawsuit is part of a habit of seeking to control states and private institutions. This spring, for example, the DOJ also demanded that Wisconsin impose more regulations on and inspections of private voucher schools, alleging this was necessary to alleviate discrimination against special-needs students although literally no evidence of this exists. And, of course, although no federal budget has existed since the president took office, each time it surfaces he attempts to use it to cancel vouchers for more poor, predominantly black students in Washington, DC.

Consider also the effects of the president’s signature initiative, Obamacare, on private schools, which are largely religious. They’re worried. Depending on how legal challenges play out, the health care law may force religious schools to hire employees whose morality conflicts with their mission, and to pay for medical procedures that violate their First Amendment freedom of conscience. Imagine a Catholic school being forced to hire a Buddhist religion teacher, or a Mormon school being forced to pay for abortions.

It is increasingly clear that, voucher regulations or no voucher regulations, private schools offer no safe place to tuck children as long as the federal government persists in overstepping the bounds of law and rationality to impose autocrats’ wills on everyone.

SOURCES:, School Reform NewsWall Street Journal.

Joy Pullmann ( is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News, a national monthly publication.