House Majority Leader Eric Cantor demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder drop a lawsuit over school vouchers being used for private schools, or face the wrath of Congress.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder drop a lawsuit over school vouchers being used for private schools, or face the wrath of Congress.
Cantor, speaking Monday at a Philadelphia charter school, also predicted that all U.S. students will be entitled to school choice within 10 years.
"If the Attorney General does not withdraw this suit, then the United States House will act. We will leave no stone unturned in holding him accountable for this decision," Cantor, a Virginia Republican, told an audience Monday at Freire Charter School. "The Attorney General will have to explain to the American people why he believes poor minority children in Louisiana should be held back."
About 1,000 students apply by lottery for 150 spots in the freshman class at Freire Charter School's high school, where students told Cantor about their Advanced Placement classes and tutoring centers as he toured quiet hallways and classrooms. The school opened about 15 years ago in a former YWCA, after a $3.5 million makeover, according to board chair Thomas A. Caramanico, president of a nearby engineering firm.
Cantor toured the school with Rep. Patrick Meehan, a fellow Republican who represents suburban Philadelphia.
A small group of protesters outside argued that charter schools are draining funds from the embattled public school system in Philadelphia, which barely had enough money to open this year. Retired nurse Rosalind Applewhite, who has grandchildren and great-grandchildren in city schools, said money being spent on prisons and charter schools should go to regular public schools.
"We're taking money out of education for Corrections. If we're not giving it to Corrections, we're giving it to charter schools that it's been shown don't work," said the 67-year-old Applewhite. "If they're not going to listen to us and start funding our public schools, ... we're going to have to find new elected officials."
Cantor, however, said billions have been spent on public school reforms in recent decades, to no avail. He said that one-fourth of U.S. public school students don't graduate high school, and half of those in big cities don't graduate on time.
"The lack of education opportunities cause too many American kids to drop out of school. Most remain in poverty. Others choose a life of crime and some end up in jail. This is the greatest civil rights challenge of our time, and it is up to us to solve it," Cantor said.
Louisiana has had a school voucher program for 20 years, and expanded it to include private schools after Gov. Bobby Jindal took office in 2007. Only students in failing schools with family income below the poverty level are eligible, Cantor said.
At Freire, student Tyrone Williams told the congressmen that his AP classes are challenging, but said Freire teachers remind them the hard work will be worth it when he gets to college.
"We've already had that experience, because we've had college classes," Williams said.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.