ERIC Number: EJ763266
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: N/A
Will Vouchers Arrive in Colorado?: The Courts Intervene
Fusarelli, Lance D.
Education Next, v4 n4 p51-55 Fall 2004
In April 2003 the Colorado legislature created a school voucher program that has the potential to become one of the largest in the nation. Initially limiting the number of children eligible for vouchers to only 1% of the student population in each of the 11 low-performing school districts targeted by the legislation, or about 3,400 students overall, the program's fourth year in operation rises up to 6%, or 21,000 students statewide, who could be using state-funded vouchers to attend private and religious schools. The program was the first enacted without the cloud of a potential First Amendment challenge. Yet in May 2003, opponents filed suit alleging that the program ran afoul of the Colorado state constitution's guarantee that local school boards "shall have control of instruction in the public schools of their respective districts." In December, a state trial court judge sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that the program violated the state constitution's local control provision by giving Colorado school boards no "input whatsoever into the instruction to be offered by the private schools" that accepted voucher students, a ruling later upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court. The voucher program is on hold unless the state legislature can create a more acceptable funding and regulatory structure for it. Here, the author presents several political lessons that can be drawn from the Colorado case: (1) statewide ballots should be avoided; (2) proposals should be structured as limited pilot programs; and (3) firm intraparty discipline and the support of at least on key figure from the opposition party is necessary for approval of vouchers.
Descriptors: Educational Finance, Courts, Constitutional Law, Taxes, Private Schools, Educational Vouchers, Low Achievement, High Risk Students, State Legislation, Court Litigation, Financial Support, Politics of Education, School Choice
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment