Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grand Canyon State Celebrates Anniversary of Grand Victory

Many minds have been on the U.S. Supreme Court in recent days, and that includes ours here at School Choice Now! -- but not for the reasons you might be thinking.

One year ago today, families across the nation cheered for some good news when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that scholarship tax credit programs are indeed constitutional.  More than 128,000 students attend the school of their parents’ choice thanks to 10 scholarship tax credit programs across eight states.

The justices reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and instead ruled that the Arizona’s Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Program does not violate Constitutional principles with regard to separation of church and state.    

In the 5-4 ruling, the majority decided that choice opponents lack standing to challenge the Arizona program on grounds that it uses government funds to promote religious institutions.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that although parents use most of the scholarship funds to send their children religious-affiliated schools, it does not amount to the funding of those schools by the government.

“Contributions result from the decisions of private taxpayers regarding their own funds,” Kennedy said.

Since it began in 1997, the Arizona Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Program has grown to become the third-largest school choice program in the country—one of four school choice programs in Arizona alone. It is also the third-longest running school choice program in the country and the nation’s oldest scholarship tax credit program.

The ruling was just one of many victories for educational options in 2011—a year The Wall Street Journal—dubbed “the year of school choice.”  In addition, seven new publicly funded private school choice programs were enacted and 11 were expanded.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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