Those objecting to school choice (often anonymously) like to assert that there’s no way it would be constitutional to allow parents to choose their own education service providers using the public funds set aside for that purpose, even if the chosen schools are religious in nature. I’ve yet to see the objection come with evidence or real argument; it’s typically offered as a challenge to school choice advocates to prove the negative, and since legal argument is dismissed out of hand, it’s meant to be a rhetorical trap.
As with much of the messaging of the political left, it’s a trap that won’t remain available for much longer. Here’s Jason Russell asking in the Washington Examiner whether 2015 was “the best year yet for educational choice”:
Education choice advocates also won four out of five lawsuits decided in 2015. For example, the North Carolina state supreme court upheld the state’s tuition voucher law, while the Alabama state supreme court upheld the state’s tax credits for tuition scholarships.
Bedrick tallies seven lawsuits that are currently pending, two of which challenge Nevada’s near-universal education savings account law.
Decades ago, largely in a fit of anti-Catholic bigotry, some states passed “Blaine Amendments” that set a higher barrier for educational choice (although education savings accounts [ESAs], such as those introduced last year in Rhode Island are proving able to overcome that barrier). It’s worth noting that Rhode Island doesn’t even have such an amendment.
It might take a while, but school choice will come to Rhode Island and the country. It too perfectly fits a too-obvious problem for parents and society at large not to insist on it when once the understand that it’s allowed. We can only hope that part of that process will also remind Rhode Islanders and Americans that they are supposed to determine what’s allowed in the first place.