Search results for: "vouchers unconstitutional"

Readers of this blog got the scoop a few days ago in the comment section, as reported by Christine Langhoff. But she did not have the English translation.

Here it is in Politico:

NO GO FOR PRIVATELY RUN CHARTERS, VOUCHERS IN PUERTO RICO: Key elements of the Puerto Rican government’s push to reform education through school choice suffered a blow in court over the weekend — one that leaders say they plan to appeal.

— Tribunal de Primera Instancia Judge Iris Cancio González ruled that privately run charter schools and publicly funded vouchers used in private schools run afoul of the Puerto Rican constitution, which says public funds should only sustain government-run schools. Cancio González wrote that even when regulated, charter schools more closely resemble “a private education system funded by the government, than the public schools we know today.”

— “Their framework creates a financing system that supports private institutions, which the government simply licenses with limited supervision,” Cancio González wrote. She added that the private donations charter schools are allowed to receive could influence their objectives and practice, and agreed with teachers union arguments that charter schools could “dilute” the funding that goes to traditional public schools.

— The ruling makes an exception for charter schools run by local governments and public universities.

— The challenge was brought by Puerto Rico’s largest teachers union in a lawsuit filed in April. The union has for months fought the reform plan pushed by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, arguing that charter schools and vouchers are a threat to the island’s public schools. “We’ve always said, both charters and vouchers are unconstitutional,” Aida Díaz, president of the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, said in a statement . “Justice has been served for our children and their right to a public education. We continue to fight for them and for our teachers.”

— Ramón Rosario Cortés, Puerto Rico’s secretary of public affairs and public policy, said in a statement that “great changes usually attract resistance” and that the government plans to appeal the ruling.

A North Carolina judge ruled voucher legislation unconstitutional because it gives money intended for public schools to private and religious schools. He ordered an immediate halt to the program.

Yvonne Brannan of PublicSchools First NC sent the following response, which included a video of Judge Robert Hobgood reading his decision:

“PLEASE watch this– you will better understand why this is so critical!! Hobgood is brilliant — he clearly points out how children will be denied the promise and privilege of public education if in a private setting where they have no constitutional rights!!!! EVERYONE must get this!! Rs and Ds…please understand the common good of public education for us all must be protected!!!! THIS IS A WIN FOR all children – regardless of race, income, gender, ZIP CODE!!!

“Our forefathers gave us this gift!!! THANKS TO the Great leaders of the past and thanks to fair courts!!

PLEASE CELEBRATE by joining me on Sat at 3:30 pm at the Bicentennial Mall for Moral Week of Action EDUCATION DAY!!


The Louisiana State Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to fund vouchers using money dedicated to public schools. The court split 6-1. The decision removes funding not only for vouchers but for “course choice,” which was supposed to fund courses offered by entrepreneurs–many of them online– outside the public schools.

Stephen Dyer is a very insightful and reliable analyst of school issues in Ohio. He used to be a legislator. He reads bills and budgets. He keeps everyone informed about the intellectual fraud that perpetuates the diversion of public funds to failing charters and voucher schools. In this post, he dissects a recent paper by the Fordham Institute, which is an outspoken advocate of school privatization. Fordham, writes Dyer, said the quiet part out loud. A few years ago, Fordham funded a study by David Figlio on vouchers in Ohio that showed their negative effects, but they try to ignore their own study.

Dyer writes:

There’s been some news coverage today of Fordham’s latest foray into fantasy — a study they claim proves EdChoice vouchers are perfectly fine and dandy for kids and taxpayers.

However, tucked away in one of their “findings” is a kind of startling admission — that EdChoice forces local school districts to rely more on property taxes to pay for educating the students in public schools.

“Combined with the decrease in enrollments, this dynamic led to a 10-15 percent increase in local revenue per pupil.”

I’m sure the study’s author(s) had no idea what they had just done. But those of us who have been saying the same thing for years sure did. This is an admission that EdChoice means that students not taking EdChoice vouchers have to rely more on local, voter approved property taxes to pay for their educations — the exact thing that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four different times made Ohio’s school funding system unconstitutional.

“The overreliance on local property taxes is the fatal flaw that until rectified will stand in the way of constitutional compliance,” ruled Justice Alice Robie Resnick in the 4th and final DeRolph decision in 2002.

So it was nice of Fordham to admit this. However, the report went on to spend a lot of time trying to minimize the potentially existential lawsuit Ohio’s voucher program faces, as well as mocking me and others as “Chicken Littles” (because those with a winning argument always use ad hominem attacks to strengthen their position).

The study blows minimal to zero impacts on student success into enormous justification for increasing taxpayer subsidies for private school tuitions. As Michigan State’s Josh Cowen put it: “First and most important: the study presents a ton of zero impacts and tiny effects. Mostly this is a #schoolvouchers report about statistical noise, packaged as a win.”


Take the information on segregation. The study compares the racial makeup of voucher students with the statewide racial makeup of Ohio students. The study’s author, Stephane Lavertu of Ohio State University (who taxpayers paid $132,968 in 2019 to educate students) was very careful to only compare the racial makeup of EdChoice recipients with public school students “statewide”.

Because he knows that EdChoice voucher students don’t come from every district. They come from majority-minority districts.

There are 95 districts that lose 10 students or more to EdChoice. In 76 of those districts, accounting for 87% of all vouchers given through the program, a higher percentage of white students take vouchers than there are in that district.

The average difference between white students taking vouchers and white students in those 76 districts was 76.2%. That means that in the districts where 87% of voucher students come from, voucher recipients are 76.2% more likely to be white than their public school counterparts.

My friends, that’s White Flight. Like, obvious White Flight.

Dear reader, do these data suggest — as Huffman wants you to think — that these segregation issues are “isolated examples”?

If 87% of voucher recipients are more likely to be white than the districts they come from, is that really “isolated”? Or is it “systemic”?

I mean in Huffman’s own district of Lima, Temple Christian takes 100% white voucher students. From a district that’s 35% white….

The vouchers worsen segregation. The students in voucher schools do worse on state tests than the public schools they left. What is more, “voucher students do worse on state tests the longer they take the voucher.”

A lose-lose, for students, for public schools, and for the state.

Nonetheless, despite failure, the state Teoublican legislature wants more vouchers and more failure!

Please open the link and keep reading this important post.

Great news!

The Montana Supreme Court declared a law unconstitutional that was intended to offer tuition tax credits (aka vouchers) for private schools.

See here and here

“The justices ruled 5-2 that the program giving tax credits of up to $150 for donations to organizations that give scholarships to private-school students amounts to indirect aid to schools controlled by churches. There is a ban in the Montana Constitution on any direct or indirect state aid to such schools, regardless of how large or small the amount is, the opinion by Justice Laurie McKinnon said.

“The Legislature’s enactment of the Tax Credit Program is facially unconstitutional and violates Montana’s constitutional guarantees to all Montanans that their government will not use state funds to aid religious schools,” McKinnon wrote.”

Read more here:

Also, in another Montana newspaper:

“Montana’s high court on Wednesday struck down the state’s tax credit for school scholarships because it primarily benefited religious schools, running afoul of Montana’s Constitution.

“The state program allowed donors who contributed to scholarship funds for students to reduce their state taxes by $1 for every $1 they gave to the fund.

“The Montana Department of Revenue had excluded religious programs from participating in the tax credit program because it allowed religious schools to benefit from public dollars.

“But parents of students at a religious private school in Flathead County had challenged the department’s decision, arguing the ban was discriminatory.

“In Wednesday’s opinion, Justice Laurie McKinnon said the program, enacted by the 2015 Legislature, was a violation of the Montana Constitution’s ban on aid to religious schools.

“The court’s majority said it doesn’t matter that the money benefiting religious schools does not come directly from state coffers because the constitutional article at hand prohibits indirect payments, in this case dollar-for-dollar tax breaks.

“Here, the taxpayer ‘donates’ nothing, because for every dollar the taxpayer diverts to the (school), the taxpayer receives one dollar in consideration from the State in the form of a lower tax bill,” the opinion states.”

Ninety percent of the private schools that signed up for the program were religious.

The radical right and their allies claim they are strict constructionists of the Constitution. They don’t feel the same way about State Constitutions. Even when the State Constitution explicitly says that public money is to be used only for public schools, the far-right celebrates when the Legislature passes a voucher program that violates the State Constitution.

This is the case in Nevada, where the Constitution is very clear about where public money should go: to public schools only. Yet Nevada passed the most sweeping voucher legislation in the nation, and the allegedly strict constructionists have thrown their principles to the wind. The fact is that they care more about free markets than about the State Constitution.

Here is the complaint that was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs challenging Nevada’s sweeping voucher law.

“EducateNevadaNow” is the organization that is leading the charge against vouchers. Here is its question-and-answer sheet about the lawsuit:

On September 9, 2015, a group of parents whose children attend Nevada public schools filed a lawsuit challenging the State’s new voucher law. The lawsuit, Lopez v. Schwartz, has generated media attention and interest from parents, educators and taxpayers.

Today’s frequently asked questions focus on what the parents hope to achieve and next steps in the process.

Q: Are the parents suing for money damages?

A: No. The parents are only suing to stop the voucher program and keep it from taking away funding from the education of their children in the public schools. They are not asking for any money. Additionally, the attorneys representing the parents are providing their legal services for free or “pro bono.”

FACT: The Nevada Constitution states that the funding provided for public schools can only be used to operate those schools and not for any other purposes.

Q: What are the next steps in the parents’ lawsuit?

A: The case has been filed before Judge James Wilson in Carson City, Nevada. The parents will be asking Judge Wilson to declare the voucher law unconstitutional and to block the State Treasurer from implementing the voucher law.

A few days ago, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the voucher plan adopted by the school board in Douglas County was unconstitutional. It was a split decision. It is puzzling that it was a split decision, because the Colorado state constitution explicitly prohibits any public funding of religious institutions.
Text of Section 7:
Aid to Private Schools, Churches, Sectarian Purpose, Forbidden.


Neither the general assembly, nor any county, city, town, township, school district or other public corporation, shall ever make any appropriation, or pay from any public fund or moneys whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian society, or for any sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money or other personal property, ever be made by the state, or any such public corporation to any church, or for any sectarian purpose.


s Hess at the American Enterprise Institute writes in the National Review that the U.S. Supreme Court might well decide to throw out this part of the state constitution because it was written in the late 1870s as a Protestant ban on funding Catholic schools. Such amendments, found in 2/3 of the states’ constitutions, are known as Blaine amendments for James G. Blaine of New York, who led the movement to keep public money out of religious schools.

Representative Rick Glazier explains the court decision today that invalidated the General Assembly’s voucher plan. The State Constitution clearly says that public funds are for public schools.


Representative Glazier writes:


The lawyers who put together this case for the plaintiffs, including Burton Craige and his firm, lawyers for the NC Justice Center, Eddie Speas, and former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, among others, did a great job in preparing, briefing and arguing the case before the Superior Court. They made clear what many of us, including a number of House Democrats, had argued on the House floor last year against this bill and provision–that it patently violates the NC Constitution. Public funds for vouchers is, on its face, inconsistent with our constitutional mandate that public money may only be spent on a uniform system of PUBLIC schools. Not only is this [voucher program] public money to fund private schools, but even at that— a nonuniform system of them since the voucher provisions contain no accountability for the funds or schools, no non-discrimination protections, no teacher licensing requirements, no curriculum mandates, no supervision of the use of the funds, no EC requirements and the list goes on. And, no shell game movement of funds by the legislative majority or Governor makes it any less illegal under NC law. Shy of a constitutional amendment approving vouchers, which would never pass in this state, our state constitution forecloses private vouchers funded by public money and the Judge simply recognized what our legislature refuses to understand–no matter your ideology, and policy beliefs, there are some actions the Constitution forbids and using public money to fund private school choices is one of them. Maybe now we can really get back to our job as state legislators and look to truly assist public schools, public school educators, and the students of this state. Vouchers are not reform; they are an abdication of public education. If we want to assist pubic schools, lets start by professionally compensating teachers and educators, repealing the elimination of masters pay, adding time and resources for top notch and targeted professional development, recognizing the role of poverty in educational disadvantages that need time, attention and resources to overcome, restoring a career status system for teachers that rewards good teaching over time. expanding the richness of curriculum in all public schools, ensuring the involvement of the business community in the commitment to and improvement of public schools, and by our words reminding the public daily of the overriding importance of outstanding public schools and public school educators to our state’s economic success. It has been a good day, for a change, in North Carolina! Rick Glazier

Bill Phillis, retired deputy state superintendent of education and tireless advocate for public schools, discovered that the latest Republican effort to gut the State Board of Education violates the State Constitution.

He writes:

Unbelievable—Senate Bill 1, the Bill to render ineffective the State Board of Education violates the 1953 constitutional amendment which established the Board.

The Department of Education in Ohio is comprised of the State Board of Education, the superintendent of Public Instruction and the staff. Prior to the 1953 amendment, the education department, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction and staff (state education agency), constituted an administrative arm of the Governor’s office. This arrangement had been in place since 1913 after the Delegates to the 1912 Constitutional Convention proposed to replace the State Commissioner of Common Schools with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which proposal, the citizens of Ohio approved on a statewide ballot. In 1939 a constitutional amendment proposal to establish a State Board of Education failed by a near two to one margin. The Depression may have been a factor in the overwhelming defeat.

In 1953 Ohioans passed a constitutional amendment to establish a State board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction to be selected by the Board. Prior to the 1953 amendment, the state education agency was completely under the control of the Governor. The State Board of Education, with the newly selected Superintendent of Public Instruction, began operation in January 1956; hence the state education agency operated as a 4th branch of government until the mid-1990’s when legislation was enacted to allow the appointment of eight members by the Governor.

Article VI, section 4 of the Ohio Constitution states that the respective powers and duties of the Board and Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be prescribed by law; however, this language does not authorize the legislature to transfer the core functions of the State Board to the Governor’s office. The 1953 amendment transferred the core functions from the Governor’s office to the State Board. That is why the amendment was passed.

The legislature should deal with this matter in a manner that respects the intent and language of the Constitution. This question should be submitted to the citizens of Ohio to determine if the 1953 amendment should be reversed.

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

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William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540||

Ohio has poured taxpayer dollars into charter schools, even though public schools consistently outperform charter schools. Ohio has poured more than $1 billion into virtual charters, even though the biggest of them (ECOT, or The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) had the lowest graduation rate in the nation and declared bankruptcy rather than pay back $67 million to the state for large numbers of phantom students. But despite its dismal statistics, it collected $1 billion over its 20 years in business. Vouchers were evaluated by a researcher chosen by a pro-choice think tank, and the report said that voucher students were falling behind.

Given this long history of school choice failure, wouldn’t you think the state would step back and evaluate its commitment to failure?

Of course not. The GOP dominated Legislature wants to expand vouchers.

Why does the Ohio GOP invest in failure?

Morgan Trau of News5Cleveland explains:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bill to expand the school voucher system and provide more money to home-schoolers has been proposed in Ohio as the Department of Education is investigating a Nazi home-schooling scandal. This is not the first Holocaust education issue the state has had in one year.

Ohio’s public schools have been pushing for consistent funding for decades.

William Philis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, has spent his career fighting against the voucher system.

“We don’t have a constitutional system and they’re exacerbating the unconstitutionality of the system by draining money out of the public school system,” Philis said.

A new bill introduced to the state Senate will continue to leave public schools behind in favor of supporting private schools, he added.

Senate Bill 11 is expected to use taxpayer money to give $5,500 to elementary and middle school students and $7,500 to high schoolers so they can attend any public, community or charted nonpublic school. Ashtabula Republican Sen. Sandra O’Brien introduced the bill because, “Ohio should act now to put parents, not government, in control of their children’s education,” she said in sponsor testimony Tuesday.

Eric Frank, president of School Choice Ohio, believes the legislation allows children to get the best education possible.

“Primarily, what those do is they target scholarships to families that either live in what we typically refer to as under-performing public school areas, not necessarily districts, but buildings within districts and also low-income families,” Frank said.

The bill would expand the current EdChoice Scholarship to give universal eligibility to all students in the state of Ohio.

There are two sections of the current program:

  • EdChoice Expansion, which the state reported had 17,152 students participating in fiscal year 2021, requires income verification. Eighty-five percent of these students were below the 200% poverty rate.
  • Standard EdChoice, which the state reported has 33,129 student in FY 2021, does not require income verification. More than 75% of the students utilizing this program were not low-income qualified.

Of the total 50,281 students, 25,180 are low-income qualified, with 25,101 that are not. This means that half of the students utilizing taxpayer money to go to a private or charter school are not designated as “needing government assistance.”

This is not to say that people who aren’t in that designation don’t struggle to have to pay the full price of the tuition — but it just means it is unknown if they do struggle to pay or not.

“Most people are really happy with their public schools,” Frank added. “But families that aren’t, they should have another option.”

Philis strongly disagreed.

“I’d say that’s pure poppycock,” Philis said. “I don’t get a voucher for a backyard swimming pool because I don’t want to go to the public pool.”

Even if a student takes a voucher, private schools choose who will be admitted, the advocate said.

“What we’re doing in Ohio right now is that we’re funding segregation,” he stated. “We are funding, with taxpayer money, White Flight.”

The Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP), was somewhat attempted to be put into place for fiscal year 2021-22. It was supposed to change how the state delegates funding for school districts.

Starting in the 2021 FY, lawmakers added hundreds of millions of state dollars in both direct funding and tax credits to subsidize families sending their children to private and charter schools. Critics, like Ohio Education Association, said this makes taxpayers pay for these for-profit schools and diverts money away from public education, which desperately needs it.

The bill would also expand the home-school tax credit from $250 to $2,000, which raises concerns.

Ohio’s Nazi Education Problem

The Ohio Dept. of Education is investigating a family in Upper Sandusky after it was revealed that their home-school program was allegedly a Nazi propaganda school, where children were taught how to love Hitler and become a “wonderful Nazi.”

Logan and Katja Lawrence were the alleged creators of the “Dissident Homeschool” group which had 2,500 members on its Telegram channel when they were exposed in a late January article from VICE News.

“We need to ensure that home-schooling is not an opportunity for parents to systemically teach their children hatred,” state Sen. Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati) said. “Senate Bill 1, which is pending in Education Committee, weakens home-schooling requirements. The legislature must protect our children from instruction fueled by racism and intolerance.”

News 5 asked Sen. President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) if there should be oversight over the home-school program, which he said “absolutely,” but there are specific rules and regulations.

“I hope we’re long past the point in our society where we take the actions of one person or a small group of people and paint the entire group as though somehow they’re participating in that,” Huffman responded.

The Department of Education should be figuring out what is going on, he added.

“I hope, frankly, that people will not try to take some political advantage or policy advantage… basically trying to decide that a couple of sociopaths somewhere in Ohio who are doing strange things that… somehow should affect the policy of the rest of the state is anathema to me,” the GOP leader said (anathema means something that a person hates).

Democrats have already been jumping at making sure a situation like this does not happen again.

There are only two Jewish members in the Ohio House — Democratic Reps. Casey Weinstein of Hudson and Dani Isaacsohn of Cincinnati.

Weinstein consistently tweets about antisemitism, including a recent post advocating for more home-schooling regulations. Republican state Rep. Riordan McClain, who represents the area in which the alleged Nazi-group resides, responded to him.

“Let’s not take freedom away from all for the terrible ideas of a few,” McClain said. “I can tell you as a home-educating parent from Upper, I’ve never heard of these people.”

In a statement to the press, McClain condemned the Nazi-based teachings and “racial hatred.” He, however, acknowledged that “differing opinions exist in a free society and our job as community members is to have robust ongoing debates.”

“Get the public system out of the way, give the parents the money — we’re going to have a school that involves the Ku Klux Klan mentality,” Philis said.

Frank argued back.

“There are 50,000 families in Ohio that are home-schooling their kids,” Frank said. “And my guess is 99.9% of them probably do a good job and they are their kids, and so it’s their right.”

News 5 continues to search to find out if the Lawrence family has received any funding from the state.

This is not the first time Ohio has dealt with a Holocaust-related scandal in the past year.

Back in March of 2022, News 5 aired an exclusive report about comments made by one of the primary sponsors of a bill to ban schools from teaching “divisive topics” — H.B. 327. The report stemmed from an interview exchange between state Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula) and News 5 Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau.

During the interview, Fowler Arthur was asked about the financial aspect of the bill. While attempting to talk about funding, she brought up the Holocaust, saying that students needed to hear the massacre from the perspective of the “German soldiers.”

After the exclusive story went international, the original divisive concepts bill had been renamed the “both sides bill” or the “both sides of the Holocaust bill.”

Former Speaker of the Ohio House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) responded to a question about the lawmaker’s comments on the Holocaust, saying they were “inappropriate remarks, they were uninformed remarks.”

The bill swiftly died, despite Fowler Arthur’s repeated efforts to bring it back to life, a records request by News 5 showed. Also in the records were dozens of angry emails to the lawmaker.

She was previously on the state Board of Education but has never participated in the public education system as a student or a parent. She was home-schooled and did not attend college.

In the new General Assembly, the lawmaker will have more power than she has ever had. News 5 shared in January that Fowler Arthur will be the primary and secondary Education Committee’s vice chair.

“I think that in terms of the committee makeup, is it concerning to me that that individual has been given a leadership position on an education committee? Absolutely,” Minority House Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) told News 5 in a one-on-one interview.

Luckily, Russo said, the vice chair shouldn’t have a huge role in leading the direction of a committee.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.