This holiday weekend, Americans will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Education choice advocates will have an additional cause to celebrate with the wins in education independence this week:
- On Monday, June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, Director, Missouri Department of Natural Resources states cannot discriminate solely on the basis of an institution having a religious affiliation. While the court narrowly limited the case to playground materials, it opened the door to further challenges to anti-religious Blaine Amendments, which were used to originally deny the church’s participation in the program.
- On Monday, June 26, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously to dismiss a case against the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. In the ruling, it stated, “When the state refunds money for overpayment of taxes, it is not remitting public funds but is returning the taxpayer’s own money.”
- On Monday, June 26, Florida Governor Scott (R) signed HB15 and HB3A expanding eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship program to students who are hospitalized, homebound, deaf, visually impaired, have suffered traumatic brain injuries, or suffer from other rare diseases. The bills also increased scholarship amounts for low-income students served by the Florida Tax-Credit Scholarship Program.
- On Tuesday, June 27, the United States Supreme Court vacated two cases “in light of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, Director, Missouri Department of Natural Resources,” sending them back to their respective courts for review. One case came from New Mexico, in which the state had been sued over purchasing textbooks for private schools, some of which were religious. The second case was from Colorado. This case was about publicly funded vouchers being used to pay for private school tuition, including religious schools. Both rulings relied on state Blaine Amendment arguments.
- On Wednesday, June 28, the North Carolina Legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of the biennium budget. With the budget in place, North Carolina became the sixth state with an education savings account (ESA) program. The program will be established during the 2017–18 school year and start making awards for the 2018–19 school year. The program is limited to a total of $3,000,000 with a maximum of $9,000 per student account. Eligibility is limited to students with specific disabilities, foster children, children of active military and full-time active-duty National Guard and Reservists, recent adoptees, and children entering kindergarten or first grade.
- On Thursday, June 29, New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu (R) signed SB 8, also known as the Croydon bill, allowing towns to pay the tuition for students at a nonsectarian private school if the public school district does not serve the grade of that student.
It is good to see independence making so much headway against the one-size-fits-all education monopoly of the government. More people need to understand public schooling is not the same thing as public education, no matter how many times the education blob states it is.