School Choice: Parents’ Opinions Matter Most

This year, as in years past, IJ took part in National School Choice Week, an annual effort to raise awareness about the different options parents have concerning their children’s education—options for which parents in some states are still fighting.  Fortunately, school-choice programs have been steadily increasing in popularity.

School choice is a broad term. It can refer to several unique and innovative policies designed to empower families and let them choose the schools that best fit their needs and desires. As IJ Attorney Erica Smith wrote:

“It should be up to parents, not government bureaucrats, to decide what school is best for their children.”

Critics of school choice often rely on the same, long-disproven arguments. Some will accuse certain types of programs of unconstitutionally siphoning off public dollars to private schools, even when the funding for these programs comes from private, tax-credited donations, not from the public treasury. In fact, nine courts have considered—and solidly rejected—the argument that tax credits constitute public funds, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Others make even more dubious claims, such as those in this recent Washington Post opinion piece. The piece republished a blog post that criticizes IJ attorney Dick Komer for promoting the benefits of school choice for minorities, accusing Komer of making “elitist assumptions about what ‘poor minorities’ want.”  Yet the blogger pays no attention to what low-income and minority communities actually want, nor does she seem to respect their personal decisions, at least if they involve enrolling in school choice programs. In fact, polling data shows that school choice programs are particularly popular among minority communities.

IJ has won two major U.S. Supreme Court victories that strengthened school choice in America: Zelman v. Simmons-Harris and Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. We have also secured the right of families to pursue educational choices in numerous state supreme courts, and are continuing the fight in others.

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