Although events in several states seem to indicate that vouchers in their various forms have no future, the U.S. Supreme Court still remains to be heard (“Has the Tide Turned Against Vouchers?” National Education Policy Center, Feb. 21). The closest it came in that regard was in 2002 in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, when the high court held that Cleveland’s vouchers did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment even though parents were permitted to use them for religious schools.
As readers of this column know, I support parental choice. But I’ve also stressed time and again that public money should not be used for religious schools. SCOTUS disagrees. I still don’t understand the rationale for the Zelman ruling. Late last year, the Montana Supreme Court agreed in part, when it struck down the state’s three-year old neovoucher program because it funded private and religious education.
I don’t believe that voters are willing to completely give up on traditional public schools. The closest they are can be seen in the popularity of charter schools, which are publicly funded. But even charter schools are facing pushback by a cap placed on their growth by some school districts. As things stand, charter, private and religious schools play by a completely different set of rules than traditional public schools. As a result, comparing outcomes is totally unfair.
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