Yesterday, the teachers unions and the ACLU celebrated a victory: the Arizona State Supreme Court ruled that two school voucher programs serving special needs students and foster children were unconstitutional under state law. Of course, this victory for liberal interest groups is a big setback for some of the most at-risk children in Arizona.
The Institute for Justice, which defended the program in court, highlighted the impact that this ruling could have on one family:
One of those children will be Lexie Weck, a six-year-old little girl with autism, cerebral palsy and mild mental retardation who relies on the program for pupils with disabilities to attend the Chrysalis Academy, a small private school in Tempe that specializes in working with autistic children. Andrea Weck, Lexie’s single mom, was one of the parents who joined with the Institute to Justice to defend the program in Court.
“The opportunity created by the scholarship program changed Lexie from the inside out,” Andrea Weck said. “While Lexie struggled to make any academic or social progress in public school, she has absolutely flourished at the Chrysalis Academy. I don’t know how I will ever be able to afford the tuition at Chrysalis, but I also don’t know how I could put her back in a public school and face the possibility of her regressing.
To learn more about Lexie’s story, watch this video.
IJ and other supporters in Arizona are confident that this isn’t the end of the line for school choice in the Grand Canyon state. Importantly, the court’s decision didn’t affect the state’s two education tax credit programs, which help tens of thousands of children attend a school of their parents’ choice. Arizona lawmakers could find a way to help these children continue their education’s through these tax credit programs. Moving forward, Arizona policymakers should also look at amending the constitution to remove these restrictions.