Vouchers ascendant?

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4 Responses

  1. Sam Bagenstos says:

    Just wondering what academics think that school voucher programs have “little serious political support.”

  2. Aaron Saiger says:

    Sam’s request for citations is most welcome. I am traveling this week and away from my office bookshelves, but here are a couple standouts on the law-review side:

    Martha Minow, Confronting the Seduction of Choice: Law, Education, and American Pluralism, 120 YALE L.J. 814, 832-33 (2011) (citations omitted): “[T]he decision in Zelman produced no mass movement for school vouchers. Indeed, despite the constitutional green light for school vouchers, the political movement for them has essentially stalled. Despite enormous political efforts and dramatic legal success, the movement for vouchers halted in 2008–right at the feet of suburban parents who liked their public schools. Disillusionment with privatization after the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the stock market collapse may have contributed to declining interest in school vouchers as private market-based solutions lost cachet. Voters defeated five state school choice referenda, and none of the results were close. By 2008, public vouchers to support private schooling receded from the public stage, leaving entrepreneurial school reformers engaged with charter, magnet, and pilot schools, as well as other forms of school choice, within public school systems.”

    James Forman, Jr., The Rise and Fall of School Vouchers: A Story of Religion, Race, and Politics, 54 UCLA L. REV. 547, 549-50 (2007) (citations omitted): “Zelman was thought to be important because many assumed that once the Court held vouchers to be constitutional, states would rush to implement such plans. For many, the uncertain legality of school vouchers had been a reason not to institute voucher programs…. Yet, in the years since Zelman, school vouchers have made little political headway. They have been proposed in a variety of cities and states, but have overwhelmingly been rejected. This is just as true in states run by Republicans as in those led by Democrats.”

  3. What exactly is heartening about a decision that allows diverting taxpayer dollars from secular public schools to religious schools, even for students who are not in failing public schools? Is there any reason to believe that Indiana will avoid the educational problems that afflict religious schools in states like Texas and Louisiana?

  4. Joe says:

    I take the author supports the idea that voucher programs are legitimate and that it can be good public policy to use them in this fashion, including for good non-public schools.

    Now, if you are against this sort of thing, including on 1A grounds (though it seems to meet current doctrine), that would be something else. I am sympathetic to the dissents in Zelman, but “educational problems” probably afflict various types of non-public schools, while some provide good education (as some religions support SSM, some don’t), so would not focus on that alone.