Court Of Appeals Approves Public Education Funding Vouchers

October 02, 2013

Another court has given the green light for Arizona lawmakers to issue what amount to public education funding vouchers to parents to educate their kids at any private or parochial school they want.

Parents of students with special needs and those in schools with a ‘D’ or lower rating, get what are called empowerment scholarships, amounting to 90 percent of state aid. Challengers claimed a violation of the constitutional provisions barring state dollars for religious worship or instruction. But the state court of appeals said the program was legal, because the money goes to the parents, who then decide how to use it. Attorney Tim Keller of the Institute for Justice says the ruling makes sense.

 “The state is paying for an education,” Keller said. “We leave it to the parents to decide the best way to obtain that education, whether it's in a public school, which they still obviously have that option, whether it's in a private school, whether it's in some combination thereof.”

Keller says that opens the door to provide similar vouchers to the parents of all 1.1 million public school students.

Attorney Don Peters, representing the challengers, says that’s just wrong. He says the founding fathers had a better concept of education—that it should take place in public schools and that lawmakers should make them good, instead of giving everyone an exit pass. He says the decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.