Rounding up reaction to the Dougco voucher ruling
The Denver Post
June 29, 2015
In a long-awaited ruling, a divided Colorado Supreme Court on Monday rejected Douglas County School District’s contentious, groundbreaking school voucher program as unconstitutional.
You can read our report on the ruling — and the ruling itself — by clicking here.
As you’d expect, reactions poured in from all corners in praise and disappointment of the court’s decision. Here we’ve pulled highlights from statements that landed in the inbox, or that we have gleaned in interviews or from the Twitter:
Cindy Barnard, president of Taxpayers for Public Education, one of the plaintiffs in the case:
“This is a great victory for public school children in Colorado. The DCSD voucher program took taxpayer funds, intended for public education, and used that money to pay for private school education for a few select students. The decision means that money set aside for public education in Colorado can only be used the way it was intended to be used- for the betterment of education in Colorado public schools.”
Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute, a Denver-based free-market think tank:
“This decision is difficult to swallow, especially for students who are struggling in their current school to reach their full potential. Families deserve access to more educational options.”
The Colorado Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses (a number of Catholic schools were approved to take part in the voucher program):
“Today, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected the Douglas County school choice program. We are disappointed that the court chose not to recognize the important interest the State of Colorado has in promoting the rights of parents as the primary decision makers in the education of their children.
The Court ruled that the program in Douglas County violated Colorado’s Constitutional ban on State money being used to aid religious schools; this provision in our constitution is known as the Blaine Amendment. Blaine Amendments were added to the laws and constitutions of many states in the 19th century as a form of anti-Catholic bigotry. The Colorado Supreme Court has reinforced the bigotry found in Colorado’s constitution by rejecting the Douglas County school choice program.
We disagree with the court’s ruling and do not believe that the program violates the state’s prohibition against public funding of religious institutions, mainly because parents and children are the primary beneficiaries. The power of parents to be able to choose the best education for their children is critical to the long-term success of our state.
Private education plays an important and vital role in our state. Catholic Schools are a great blessing and we celebrate their high standards of excellence, the quality of education they provide and their many accomplishments and achievements.”
Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, an original plaintiff.
“This is the ruling we were hoping for with regard to the Colorado constitutional provision that was the centerpiece of the argument — no public money can go to religious schools, no how, no way.”
Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, another free-market group:
“We should be igniting the potential of student success and keep school choice programs strong. Today’s ruling takes us backward, not forward and stands in contrast with the Coloradans who want to see our state be a leader, not a straggler in education reform.”
Even Republican president contender Jeb Bush — who has spoken on this issue before — weighed in on Twitter.