New hope for Douglas County parents and school choice in Colorado
Douglas County families can remain hopeful this week after the US Supreme Court instructed the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to strike down the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program. Colorado’s highest court halted the program in 2015, arguing that allowing parents to use their tax dollars to send their children to religious schools violated the state constitution, but will now reexamine the decision in light of a US Supreme Court decision earlier this week.
Enacted in 2011, the Douglas County program would give 500 Douglas County students 75% of per-pupil revenue (PPR) to cover tuition at a participating private school (including some religious schools). The remaining 25% of PPR would remain in the public system. At the launch of the program in 2011, ACE Scholarships announced it would provide additional tuition assistance to any of the 500 students who were from low-income families.
“This week’s decision by the US Supreme Court, compelling Colorado’s court to reexamine the program is a significant victory,” said ACE President and CEO, Norton Rainey. “Allowing parents to use their tax dollars to select the K-12 school they believe will best fit their child, including faith-based private schools, does not violate the constitution.”
In 2002, the US Supreme Court upheld a school choice program in Cleveland, stating that when an individual uses public funds to make a private choice—in that case, when a Cleveland parent uses a voucher to send his or her child to a private school (including religious schools)—it does not violate the First Amendment.
“The Colorado Supreme Court got it wrong in 2015, and they now have a chance to right that wrong and allow Douglas County parents to choose the school that works best for their child,” said Rainey.
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