Historic Alliance Formed To Defend School Choice

John Kramer
John Kramer · June 18, 1999

Washington, D.C.-The Institute for Justice will team up with the Urban League of Greater Miami and several Pensacola families to defend the nation’s most far-reaching education reform program: Florida’s A+ plan.

At a news conference following Governor Jeb Bush’s signing of the legislation, attorneys from the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice will announce their efforts to defend the constitutionality of the A+ education reform program.

The news conference will be held on Monday, June 21 at 1 p.m. in Room 100 of the Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Avenue in Tallahassee.

Appearing at the news conference will be Clint Bolick, litigation director at the Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading legal defender of school choice; T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami; as well as Dermita Merkman and Tracy Richardson, Pensacola parents whose children were to attend failing public schools this fall but who want scholarships for their children.

The Institute will intervene on behalf of the Urban League of Greater Miami and choice-eligible families as defendants in anticipated legal challenges against the program, expected as early as Monday, June 21. The Institute advised Gov. Bush on legal aspects of the program and will work closely with the state’s lawyers while presenting the perspective of parents, who have the greatest stake in the program’s success.

The Institute played a similar role in successfully defending school choice programs in the Wisconsin, Arizona, and Ohio Supreme Courts, which were challenged on federal and state constitutional grounds.

“The special-interest groups won’t block this vital reform if we have anything to say about it,” Bolick declared. “This program isn’t about religion. It’s about education.”

Bolick said that the case would have implications for school choice efforts nationwide.

“Florida is providing the nation’s first money-back guarantee for public school students,” he said. “This program is a model for the nation.”