Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Judge Upholds Arizona's School Voucher Programs

A judge last Wednesday upheld two new state voucher programs designed to provide money to send foster and disabled children to private schools, handing a legal win to Arizona supporters of so-called "school choice" initiatives.

Challengers contended that the programs enacted by the Legislature last year violate state constitutional prohibitions against public funding for private and religious schools. They also argued they undermined the state's public school system by diverting needed money.

However, Judge Bethany Hicks of Maricopa County Superior Court agreed with defenders of the voucher programs, ruling that the grants to parents aren't appropriations of state money for religious worship or instruction and don't support any religious organization.

...challengers included the Arizona Education Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, and AEA spokesman John Wright said they would appeal Hicks' ruling.

"We owe it to Arizona students and all of Arizona's schools to pursue it to its conclusion," Wright said. "It's not frivolous. It's justice."

The voucher programs do promote religion when parents use vouchers to send their children to religious schools, he said. "We've got a very compelling case that these are not (neutral on religion)."

This from Education Week.

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