In This Issue
War on Private Education
Religious Liberty Summit
The Federal Government's War on Private Education for Low-Income Families 
 
      
By Attorney Richard C. Baker, 
September 2013
 
In the landmark desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court recognized "it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education." To that end, Louisiana's once notoriously segregated school system now provides the second largest school voucher program in the country. The program provides approximately 8,000 tuition vouchers to children from low income families attending public schools that the state has graded C, D or F so they can attend private schools. Given the fact that about 72 percent of the state's public schools are rated C, D or F, according to the Louisiana Department of Education, this is a real life line for many families. Among those awarded vouchers, 91% are minority and 86% would have otherwise attended public schools with D or F grades.
So why, in August of this year, did the Justice Department challenge Louisiana's voucher program in Federal court?  That was the question put to the Attorney General Eric Holder in an open letter from members of Congress observing that this appears to hurt the "very children you profess to be protecting."
In response, Attorney General Holder stated that the once highly segregated Louisiana schools have now "achieved or were close to achieving the desired degree of student racial diversity and the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward desegregation." In other words, allowing mostly African American parents to transfer their children out of failing Louisiana schools would up set the racial balance of schools in districts still under federal desegregation orders.  

 

 

 

But, as Louisiana has asked, since 91% of thstudents using vouchers are black, how could their departure to voucher schools make their home school systems less white?  A review by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice backs up Louisiana's common sense question noting that almost every empirical study finds "that school choice moves students from more segregated schools into less segregated schools." In Milwaukee's voucher program, for example, private school enrollment has moved from being 25% minority students before the voucher program to now being 65% minority students. 

 

A more plausible explanation is that school desegregation has ceased to be about children or educational opportunities. If this is the case, the federal government's war on school choice in Louisiana and around the Country has less to do with racial justice and more to do with the support of one of its major constituents, the Teachers Union. From the union point of view the competition and the accountability that school choice brings to the public schools will threaten the resources needed for the perpetual funding of its failing public education bureaucracy.    

 

So what is the concern? If successful, the Justice Department's action will harm school choice, whether in the form of vouchers or charter schools, in Louisiana and potentially in every school district around the country still subject to decades old desegregation decrees. It threatens to take from thousands of kids in Louisiana, mostly black, as well as kids around the nation, their only chance for a high-quality education. If successful, it would turn Brown v. Board of Education on its head, since desegregation and school choice share a common aim: educational opportunity. 

 

To read more from today's news on the voucher program visit

 
 

 

Richard Baker has represented private schools and is a legal representative for the Home School Legal Defense Fund in Illinois. He has represented many families challenged  by the State with regard to their home school programs. His children were home schooled for 10 years and then attended private schools.    

A Report from the Religious Liberty Summit
   
     
By Attorney Noel W. Sterett,  September 2013 
 

I spoke in Kansas City at the Religious Liberty Summit on Sept. 21. hosted by the National Lawyer's Association. The summit brought together lawyers and delegates from religious organizations from across the country to discuss what more can be done to defend religious liberty in America.

 

During the summit, I had the privilege of raising awareness of the growing threat land use laws are posing to religious liberty and how our first amendment rights are being zoned away. I sought to encourage and equip everyone with the tools they needed to defend liberty on a local level.

 

 The Declaration of Religious Liberty signed during the Summit stated, "In a free and just society, it is also necessary for individuals to be able to live out that faith in association with others for their formation and mutual support, and together to promote the common good of all." Through the summit people came together to defend liberty on multiple fronts as a more united group. 

 

If you would like further information on the Religious Liberty Summit or Noel's speech please contact him at nsterett@mauckbaker.com or 312-726-6454. 

 
                         

               

Noel Sterett has been with Mauck & Baker, LLC since May 2007 and became a member of the firm on January 1, 2012. Noel has litigated in federal courts across the country, from Idaho to New Jersey, advocating for the civil liberties of churches and ministries in the land use/zoning context under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.



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   Read ADF's newsletter article      on prayer for some insight into    our supporters. 
 




Courtside Ministries is a growing ministry devoted to sharing the love of God through prayer with the thousands who come in and out of the courthouses on a daily basis. Believers from local churches and law firms are blessing hundreds of people each week as they greet them at the courthouse steps with a simple offer of prayer. 
 
 
 
Courtisde Ministries will be hosting its 2nd annual banquet full of inspiration, encouragement, and fine food. Keynote speaker will be Wes Lane, a career prosecturo who brough Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols to justice and authored Amazingly Graced: A Prosecutor Journeys Through Faith, Murder, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. 
 
Location: 
Willowbrook Ballroom and Banquet Center
 8900 South Archer Avenue
 Willow Spring, Illinois 60480
Date:
 Saturday, November 2, 2013
 6-9 p.m. 
 
The evening will consist of a five course dinner, relaxing fellowship, testimonies, and worship led by the renowned Wheaton College Gospel Choir. 



For more information about the event and how to register contact Noel Sterett at nsterett@mauckbaker.com.