CWF Celebrates National School Choice Week

Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, January 31st, 2020 at 5:05 pm - Permalink

This week, the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) is celebrating National School Choice Week. 

CWF supports school choice because American parents, no matter what their financial situation is, should have the freedom to choose where they send their children to school. By giving parents this freedom, school choice programs give children from low-income families more educational opportunities, allow children to go to the school that works best for them, whether it is a public, private or charter school, and generally improve education by promoting competition among all schools. 

Big labor, however, is unfortunately working hard to stop school choice programs.

For example, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have been very outspoken against school choice. Most recently, AFT President Randi Weingarten, for example, released a statement after oral arguments in the Supreme Court case Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, saying:

“Make no mistake, if a majority of the justices side with the petitioners, the Supreme Court will be responsible for unleashing a virtual earthquake in this country that threatens both religious liberty and public education. It would turn more than two centuries of American history and our understanding of the Constitution and religious liberty on their head, and mandate public taxpayer support for religious schools.” 

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, however, is about allowing low-income parents to choose the right school for their children. In 2015, the Montana legislature passed the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship program. The program gives a tax credit of up to $150 to Montanans who donate to a privately-run scholarship program. Using these donations, scholarships can be given to low-income parents to send their children to the school of their choice. However, the Montana Department of Revenue refused to implement the program because parents could choose to send their children to religious schools, citing Montana’s Blaine Amendment. 

Now, this important case is before the Supreme Court, and the Justices heard oral arguments last week. Distinguished Senior Attorney Richard Komer at the Institute for Justice (IJ) argued in support of the school choice program. In a recent article, “To protect religious freedom, the Supreme Court must rule in favor of school choice,” Richard Komer and IJ Senior Attorney Erica Smith explained that refusing to allow these parents to choose a religious school is religious discrimination and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The article also describes how Blaine Amendments were introduced to harm Catholic schools. 

Blaine Amendments have been used by a number of groups, including teachers’ unions, to strike down school choice programs. In fact, in 2014, the Florida Education Association, part of the American Federation of Teachers, sued the state of Florida arguing that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program was unconstitutional because of Florida’s Blaine Amendment.

Despite these attacks by labor unions on school choice programs, there are thankfully individuals and organizations, like Richard Komer and Erica Smith, who stand up for American children. Another champion of school choice is U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. She has done a fantastic job supporting American children as the Secretary of Education.

The Center for Worker Freedom commends and thanks Richard Komer, Erica Smith, Secretary Betsy DeVos and many others for their work.