U.S. Rep. John Kline is among the House leaders who sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, questioning why the federal Justice Department wants to block Louisiana from implementing a school choice program for low-income students in school districts with desegregation orders.
Along with House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and others, Kline asks Holder to explain how efforts "to revoke scholarships and eliminate education choices will help students -- particularly low-income and minority children -- access better education opportunities and a pathway to a brighter future."
The Justice Department maintains that school choice programs like the one in Louisiana will disrupt the racial balance in school districts.
In court filings, the agency argues that Louisiana has deliberately ignored desegregation plans and that granting vouchers pulls children away from public schools, causing "an increase in racially disproportionate representation in 24 historically segregated schools."
Kline, chairman of the House Education Committee, and his colleagues think the case has national implications.
"If the DOJ is successful in shutting down this invaluable school choice initiative, not only will students across Louisiana be forced to remain in failing schools, but it could have a reverberating effect and cause other states to feel pressured to shut down similiar initiatives that could provide countless children the opportunity to receive a better education," the lawmakers wrote.
Here's a copy of the letter from Republican leaders: