• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • School Choice at Risk for Colorado Kids

    In a momentous move in March of this year, a Colorado school board voted to implement its first private school choice program. The program allows up to 500 children in Douglas County to attend a private school of their choice.

    Now, hundreds of students are being blocked from receiving these scholarships due to the decision of a state district judge from Denver to halt the voucher program, claiming that it violates the state constitution. The county school board is planning to appeal the decision.

    John Carson, president of the Douglas County Board of Education, stated:

    We believe that allowing parents to choose the best school setting for their children from a wide variety of options leads to maximum student success. The court’s ruling today limits the opportunity for Douglas County parents to determine the best school fit for their children.

    The judge’s decision is the result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims that the program violates the law by providing public money to religious organizations.

    Such a claim is not the first of its kind. In typical statist fashion, these claims are born from a philosophy that holds that the money you earn is in fact not yours to keep but instead belongs to the state. But luckily for the children in Colorado and their parents, other courts have upheld the merits of school choice in previous cases. As George Will noted in the Hartford Courant:

    In 2002, the Supreme Court, considering an Ohio program legally indistinguishable from Douglas County’s, said the Constitution is not violated by a scholarship plan that is “neutral with respect to religion” and involves parents directing government aid to schools by their “own genuine and independent private choice.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court, ruling on a similar school choice program in Milwaukee, cited the U.S. Supreme Court: “The crucial question is not whether some benefit accrues to a religious institution as a consequence of the legislative program, but whether its principal or primary effect advances religion.”

    As defendants in the Douglas County case reported in their filings: “The district plays no role in this but rather leaves it entirely up to families to select partner schools.”

    Just two weeks ago, Indiana courts upheld the state’s newly created school choice program, which had come under similar attack. An Indiana Superior Court Judge, Michael Keele, affirmed that the program “was enacted ‘for the benefit’ of students, not religious institutions or activities.” He further noted that the program “permits taxpayer funds to be paid to religious schools only upon the private individual choices of parents.”

    Rather than dictating where taxpayers’ education dollars go, school choice allows parents to use their dollars to send a child to a school of their choice. It gives families the power to make the educational choice that’s in the best interest of their child instead of assigning kids to public schools based on their zip codes.

    In 2011, more states than in any previous year have moved to bring school choice to families. Douglas County’s program is one of many victories this year to expand education opportunities, and mistaken judges should end their blockage of the schoolhouse door.

    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to School Choice at Risk for Colorado Kids

    1. mtn girl says:

      Thank goodness for one sane judge. We must stop this madness. Voucher programs are just another way for us to pay for privitization of schools. I hope true Americans see this for what it is… a farce and a slap in the face to our ideals as a nation.

      • JoelD says:

        You apparently have no idea what American ideals are. I suggest you read the Declaration, Constitution, and Federalist Papers for a clearer understanding. They mean what they say, not what you think they say. The madness is a Federal government reaching way beyond its granted rights and roles.

      • Slick says:

        Perhaps you should think about WHERE children will get the best education, not which entity receives the money in order to provide that education. And if the public school system was doing a bang-up job of providing that educational need, we wouldn't be having this discussion!!!

        So I guess you are all for PUNISHING parents and their children because they really DO want to give their children the best education they can afford. Honey, whose SIDE are you on? The children so they get a better education, OR the teachers' unions so they can continue to milk the taxpayers for money for retirement, health care and political donations to those who are spending our country right out of existence?????

        • Tyler says:

          Are you seriously going to claim that teachers' unions are the ones spending our country out of existence? I'm sure any sane person will look at that and laugh.

          Our children need to get a FAIR education as well as the best education, and the way to do that is threefold. Cut spending programs at the federal level (particularly defense) so that more funding can go to education. Raise state and local taxes with the tax money going specifically and only to education. Get more involved in your community and help out at your school's PTO, etc.

          The poor and the rich deserve equal education, and the voucher system denies that right.

          • dewayne says:

            ooh! tyler boy Spoken like a real liberal afraid of losing their union bad teachers to ones that really do teach. WE are for students choice to pick what school they want to go to ….and that includes the poor.
            Your statement about cutting defense to pump more money into education…that is laughable! WE have pumped more money into education in last 20 years and our students keep dropping in the world market. More money spent on education means more money in the unions pockets. WAke the hell up would you. get your facts straight before you start spewing this garbage.

        • Richard Cox says:

          look slick i quote " Douglas County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, and the quality of its schools is not disputed. In fact, it is one of the top performing districts in the state. Additionally, Colorado has statewide open-enrollment laws that allow any student to enroll in any public school in the state. Thus, Colorado students are not necessarily stuck in failing schools." this is not about bad schools and "choice" this is about rich people not wanting there tax dollars to go to private education …period.

          • gon4beer says:

            Richard-it lloks like you could use a new school as your grammatical skills are sub par:
            "rich people not wanting THERE tax dollars to go . . " The correct word and spelling is "their", and grammatically, "their" is classified as a possessive pronoun.

      • Controse says:

        So what is so sacred about monopolistic public education? When is competition bad? It goes directly the founding ideals of our nation that my child has to attend a school staffed by slothful incompetents. Let me keep my money to spend it as I choose on education of my children. Nothing could be more American.

    2. Bobbie says:

      noting "personal" beliefs, cultures, upbringing is private and personal defeating the term "public."
      a sincere scholarship is earned through intellectual achievement, not political correctness!

    3. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      I'm starting to wonder if ACLU means Against Children Learning Union.

    4. guest says:

      What's wrong with privitization of schools???

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×