Thursday, March 9, 2017

How a Supreme Court Ruling on Playground Covering May Open the Door to School Vouchers

How a Supreme Court Ruling on Playground Covering May Open the Door to School Vouchers:

How a Supreme Court Ruling on Playground Covering May Pave the Way for School Vouchers

Before she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos spent the better half of two decades on an expensive, dogged crusade to bring school vouchers to her home state of Michigan. Bankrolled by the limitless financial resources of the DeVos Family Foundation, her efforts helped fuel other school choice initiatives – namely lifting caps on charter school expansion – but no amount of political contributions or slick marketing campaigns was enough to do the same for vouchers.
So what got in the way?
Aside from the fact that the idea of funneling public taxpayer money to pay tuition for private schools, including religious institutions, is an enormously unpopular and harmful idea, a sizeable share of the credit has to go to a provision in Michigan’s constitution.
Michigan is one of 38 states that has strict state constitutional prohibitions against state or local financial assistance to non-public schools. In most of those states, the prohibition is specifically against aid to religious institutions, including schools. These prohibitions were adopted in many of these states in the nineteenth century as part of the common school movement and were intended to prevent public funding of religious schools.
In recent years, opponents of these provisions have sought to recast them as anti-Catholic provisions and tagged them as “Blaine amendments” after a failed 1875 effort by Congressman James G. Blaine to amend the federal constitution to prohibit governmental aid to religious organizations.
While the federal Blaine amendment effort was clouded by anti-Catholic bias, the state constitutional prohibitions against aid to religion were not and cannot be dismissed summarily, as voucher proponents would have it, by tarring them as mini “Blaine amendments.”
The Supreme Court will soon weigh in on the strength of such state “No Aid” provisions. By June of this year the Supreme Court  – particularly if it is joined by a ninth member  – could decide that interpreting these provisions to prevent religious institutions from receiving public funds violates the federal Constitution. This could push the door open for school vouchers on a national scale, giving an enormous and timely boost to Donald Trump’s and Betsy DeVos’ ambitious school privatization agenda.
It’s an agenda, says NEA President Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, that siphons off taxpayer How a Supreme Court Ruling on Playground Covering May Open the Door to School Vouchers: