Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
Miami Herald: Circuit Judge George Reynolds III ruled that the Florida Education Association, Florida School Boards Association and other plaintiffs had no legal standing to bring the case against the nation’s largest private school choice program.
Associated Press: “The House voted 73-43 for a bill (HB 7167) that would allow more students to become eligible for the program and eventually would open it up to middle-income families by 2016. An existing law already allows the program to grow from its current cap of nearly $300 million, but it places limits on which families can receive the vouchers.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “A controversial state program that offers tax credits to people who fund private school scholarships is unconstitutional and robs public schools of much-needed financial support, a lawsuit filed by Georgia parents Thursday argues.”
David Harsanyi at National Review: “Yes, 14 states spend ‘nearly $1 billion’ of taxpayer tuition money on ‘hundreds of religious schools’ that teach kids the earth is less than 10,000 years old. This would be more troubling if we didn’t spend hundreds of billions every year not teaching millions of kids how to read. Voucher programs offer a wide variety of choices for parents, unlike the failing schools that so many kids are trapped in.”
AZ Daily Sun: “Arizona’s controversial voucher-like system of using state funds to send children to private and parochial schools is legal, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday. Without comment, the high court refused to disturb a Court of Appeals decision which said the program, officially dubbed ‘empowerment scholarship accounts,’ does not run afoul of a state constitutional provision that bars public funds from being used to subsidize private and parochial schools.”
Associated Press: “The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to review a Court of Appeals ruling that allowed one of Colorado’s first school voucher programs.”
CBS Miami: “If an expansion of a Florida program that helps low-income children attend private schools, many of them religious, gets a thumbs up, it could mean some restrictions on eligibility could be removed.”
Sasha Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy: “On February 17, a North Carolina state trial judge, Robert Hobgood, struck down North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships program (i.e. school vouchers) as violating the North Carolina Constitution.”
Associated Press: “A judge on Friday blocked a new law that would have allowed taxpayer money to go for tuition at private or religious schools, days before a lottery to determine its first 2,400 students.”
News & Record (AP): “Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit over what one side calls school ‘vouchers’ and the other calls ‘opportunity scholarships.’”
Howard Fischer at The East Valley Tribune: “A House panel agreed Monday to allow hundreds of thousands of children to attend private and parochial schools at public expense, a vote one legislator said is part of a radical agenda to destroy public schools.”
Weekly Standard: President Obama’s Department of Justice has admitted it cannot prove that Louisiana school choice is violating desegregation efforts, yet it continues to seek the ability to tell a parent their child cannot escape a failing school because their child is not the “right” race.
WUNC Public Radio 91.5: With the support of two advocacy groups, 25 plaintiffs across the state filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a private school voucher law passed earlier this year. The N.C. Association of Educators and N.C. Justice Center are sponsoring the lawsuit, arguing that the vouchers are a broad assault on the state’s public schools as it funnels taxpayer money to private schools. | N.C. Justice information page and filings: Hart v. State of North Carolina
News Observer: The state teachers organization and the N.C. Justice Center say they will file a lawsuit Wednesday over what they are calling “unconstitutional school legislation.”
NCPA Policy Digest: To the contrary, the statewide school voucher program appears to have brought greater integration to Louisiana’s public schools.
Kevin Chavous at Wall Street Journal (access via Google): I’ve experienced firsthand the tensions between paying bills racked up in the past and honoring the obligations we have to young students in the present and future. It is deeply unfair to settle adult disputes over pension obligations and fiscal mismanagement on the backs of school children who weren’t even alive when the problems were created. In D.C., we chose to put our children first. Other cities can do the same. How? By unleashing parental choice in education.
Religion Clause Blog: In Niehaus v. Huppenthal, (AZ App., Oct. 1, 2013), the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld against state constitutional challenge Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program that provides school vouchers for students with disabilities.
Clint Bolick at Wall Street Journal (via Google): School-choice programs have faced no shortage of legal challenges en route to their adoption in 18 states and the District of Columbia. But none of the challenges is so perverse or perplexing as the Justice Department’s motion last month to wield desegregation decrees to halt Louisiana’s voucher program.
AP: On Friday, the U.S. District Court in New Orleans ordered Louisiana to undertake an analysis of the voucher program and provide it to the federal government by Nov. 7.
American Federation for Children: The number of applications for educational choice programs in Ohio, Wisconsin and Louisiana demonstrates a growing number of families are taking advantage of educational choice options available to them starting this school year.
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline: Thirteen states created or expanded tuition tax credits, private school scholarships or traditional vouchers in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states did so in 2012 and seven states in 2011, according to the group.
AFC: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina Legislature for taking a historic step by passing the nation’s newest statewide voucher program
Jay Greene at WSJ: It is not clear why private schools have an advantage in producing more tolerant students. It may be that private schools are better at teaching civic values like tolerance, just as they may be more effective at teaching math or reading. It is also possible that, contrary to elite suspicion, religion can teach important lessons about human equality and dignity that inspire tolerance.
The Friedman Foundation: Ohio’s low-income kindergartners will be eligible for school vouchers this fall with Gov. John Kasich’s signing of the state’s 2013-14 budget today. On Thursday the Ohio House and Senate approved the budget containing the voucher expansion, which, over time, makes all low-income students eligible.
U.S. Senate Committee Votes Down ‘School Choice’ Amendment, Americans United for Sep. of Church and State celebrates
Americans United for Sep. of Church and State: Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was considering amendments to S. 1094, the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act,” which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C) introduced an amendment that would have allowed states to turn their Title I funds into giant voucher programs.
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded new legislation to improve funding for the state’s choice and charter schools while expressing disappointment that efforts to expand parental choice to more families were not enacted into law.
Patheos: Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor, whose organization argued for the constitutionality of the program, defended it on the grounds that “parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children.” “The ultimate winners in the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision are Indiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private,” Baylor said March 26.
DFW Catholic: Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor, whose organization argued for the constitutionality of the program, defended it on the grounds that “parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children.” “The ultimate winners in the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision are Indiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private,” Baylor said March 26.
Religion Clause Blog: The Louisiana Supreme Court today in a 6-1 decision held that the state’s school voucher program enacted in 2012 violates the state constitution. In Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana, (LA Sup. Ct., May 7, 2013) . . .
The Denver Channel: The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn a decision that found the Douglas County schools’ voucher program constitutional.
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: One of the quieter – though equally intense – battles for religious freedom in America is being fought almost daily on behalf of young school children. This week, two cases from two different parts of the country spotlight the obstacles being placed before people of faith, like you, who want nothing more than to select a school that best meets the needs of their children and grandchildren.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): “We find it inconceivable,” the justices wrote, that the framers meant to prohibit government spending from which a religious institution could ultimately benefit. Everything from police protection to city sidewalks benefit religious institutions, but “the primary beneficiary is the public,” and any benefits to religious groups are “ancillary and indirect,” said the ruling. “The direct beneficiaries under the voucher program are the families of eligible students and not the schools selected by the parents for their children to attend.”
AP: The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the law creating the nation’s broadest school voucher program, clearing the way for a possible expansion.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Louisiana’s school voucher law should be struck down because it subsidizes religion with public funds and lacks accountability standards, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has told the state supreme court. Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for educational choice—today applauded the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that lifted the temporary restraining order placed on the Alabama Accountability Act in response to a lawsuit filed by the Alabama Education Association last week. The lawsuit was filed in an effort to prevent Governor Robert Bentley from signing the legislation that includes a new tax credit scholarship into law.
Religion Clause Blog: In Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana, (LA 19th Dist. Ct., Nov. 30, 2012), a Louisiana trial court held that the state’s voucher program unconstitutionally diverts to nonpublic schools or entities funds which the state constitution’s Minimum Foundation Program . . .
AP on One News Now: Indiana Supreme Court justices want to know whether the nation’s largest school voucher program primarily benefits students’ parents or religious institutions.
Are Charters Enough Choice? School Choice and the Future of Catholic Schools | Nicole Stelle Garnett, Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper
Garnett, Nicole Stelle, Are Charters Enough Choice? School Choice and the Future of Catholic Schools (January 19, 2012). Notre Dame Law Review, 2012; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 12-50. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1988467
This contribution to a Notre Dame Law Review symposium on “Law and Educational Innovation” critiques the oft-repeated assertion that private-school-choice programs, such as tuition vouchers or tax credits, are unnecessary because charter schools provide sufficient educational choices. Arguing that policy makers have failed to come to terms with the profound, unfortunate consequences of Catholic schools’ rapid disappearance from urban neighborhoods, the essay builds a case for a shift in education policy that embraces both charter schools and private-school-choice mechanisms.
WIBC.com: The five justices heard roughly 1 1/2 hours of oral arguments on whether the state constitution allows taxpayer money to fund vouchers that pay for religious or other private schools. Chief Justice Brent Dickson gave no indication on when they would rule. “We will attempt to resolve the matter, and we’ll let you know when we do.”
Religion Clause Blog: Now in Independent School District No. 5 of Tulsa County v. Spry, (OK Sup. Ct., Nov. 20, 2012), in a 7-2 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed that decision on standing grounds. It held that the school districts which were plaintiffs in the lawsuit lack standing because they are not taxpayers who have a right to challenge the program . . .
One News Now: Despite the increased demand and bigger budget, the Department of Education and the Obama administration have been working for a year to limit participation in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.
American Federation for Children: A new study released today by researchers at the Brookings Institution and Harvard University shows that African American participants in a private school choice program were 24 percent more likely to enroll in college as a result of receiving a voucher, reinforcing previously-released data showing improved graduation rates, parental satisfaction, and academic achievement among voucher students . . . Full findings of the study can be downloaded here.
Mike Shedlock at Townhall: Indiana has the nation’s largest school voucher system and it is about to double in size. In response, Indiana public schools wage unusual ad campaign.
Baptist Press: As Indiana’s path-breaking voucher program charts its second year, the Griffin children are among thousands of Hoosier students using state dollars to attend private schools. About 300 private, largely Christian schools in the state are accepting voucher students — and gaining a financial boost as they arrive. The boost once was rare, but the school choice movement is surging, thanks to Republican statehouse efforts with occasional Democratic support. The impact in Indiana could predict how Christian schools will benefit from new school choice programs in states such as Louisiana.
TheTownTalk.com: The Louisiana School Boards Association and 34 school boards have joined the legal battle to undo Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program.
D.C. School Vouchers To Continue For Another Year Under Agreement Between Administration and Congressional Backers
Religion Clause Blog: The New York Times reported earlier this week that the school voucher program for Washington, D.C. school children will be renewed for another year under an agreement that House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Joseph Lieberman have reached with the Department of Education.
Broad Coalition Celebrates Ten-year Anniversary Of Landmark Supreme Court Decision On Cleveland Voucher Program
American Federation for Children: More than 650 attendees recognize historic case, which opened doors of educational opportunity to hundreds of thousands of children nationwide . . . The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—was among the sponsors of the event, which recognized a June 27, 2002, high court ruling in Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris that affirmed the constitutionality of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program and proved to be among the catalysts for significant expansion of private school voucher and scholarship tax credit legislation in the decade that followed.
NY Times: Now Mr. Romney is taking his party back to its ideological roots by emphasizing a lesser role for Washington, replacing top-down mandates with a belief in market mechanisms. It is a change driven in part by Tea Party disdain of the federal government. In the Republican presidential nominating fight, candidates competed in calling to shut the Education Department.
Wall Street Journal: It had been years since Principal Kathleen Lowry pulled extra desks from the dusty attic of St. Stanislaus, the only Catholic school left in this port city. But after Indiana began offering parents vouchers in the spring of 2011 to pay for private tuition, she had to bring down 30 spare desks and hire three teachers’ aides.
One News Now: ADF attorney Greg Baylor says it is ironic that those challenging the parental choice program claim religious freedom is on their side, when just the opposite is true. “It would be discrimination against religion to say parents can redeem their vouchers at public schools or secular private schools, but not at private religious schools,” he submits. “We think that our position — that it’s permissible to include the religious schools in the program — is actually far more consistent with the basic principles of religious freedom than the position taken by those challenging the program.”
One News Now: And ADF attorney Matt Sharp asserts it is not a program that is trying to prop up religious schools to the detriment of others. “That’s exactly the correct interpretation of the law in all of this, is that there’s nothing wrong with giving state funds through a voucher program to low-income families to give them options for their kids,” he contends.
An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney together with ADF attorneys have filed a brief with the Colorado Court of Appeals in defense of a Douglas County voucher program that pays for students who attend “private school partners” rather than government-run schools.
Katherine Stewart at The Guardian: You can learn a lot about a policy idea by seeing who its friends are. Advocates of voucher programs include the activist organizations of the religious right, such as the Alliance Defense Fund, Focus on the Family, and the pro-creationism Discovery Institute.
NCPA Policy Digest: Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have either voucher systems or “scholarship” programs that provide tax benefits to individuals and businesses for contributions that help pay for students to attend private school.
Louisiana Federation for Children: The Louisiana Federation for Children today praised newly-released results of a recent parental satisfaction survey showing overwhelmingly high satisfaction rates from parents with children participating in the New Orleans voucher program.
Religion Clause: A trial court in Arizona’s Maricopa County yesterday rejected state constitutional challenges to the state’s “empowerment scholarship” program that makes school vouchers available to students with special needs so they can attend private or parochial schools.