The Arizona Supreme Court ruled last month against voucher programs for children with disabilities and for children in foster care. The almost 500 children in those two programs will only be allowed to finish out the remaining few months of the school year, but are out of luck next fall.
In 1999 the Arizona Supreme Court wrote about the Arizona tax credit program (that was challenged by the same groups) in its Kotterman v. Killian decision, "We would be hard pressed to divorce the amendment's language from the insidious discriminatory intent that prompted it." You can read the shameful origin of the amendment for yourself starting on page 35 of the decision.
After the most recent decision, an anonymous commenter on an Arizona newspaper website was gleeful (grammatical and logic errors in the original):
Vouchers was just a scam to give money to parents rich enough to send their kids to private schools. There is no private school that can compete with public ("no profit motive") school, hence the voucher cannot fully fund a private school education. It's a giveaway, plain and simple, with the bonus side effect of destroying the education system for people too poor to send their kids to private schools. Nice try, but no cigar!
I'd like to see this person try to explain this to one of the plaintiffs in the school voucher case. Andrea Weck is a single mom who works in a beauty salon and whose daughter with multiple disabilities has benefitted enormously from the program. School choice for rich kids? Hardly.
The ACLU is employing weapons forged by bigots in order to force children like Lexie Weck out of their schools. Andrea and Lexie are not abstractions in an ideological fever dream, but real people who need and deserve programs like those struck down by the court.
It now falls to Arizona lawmakers to fashion replacement programs that will help these families. Let's hope they have the courage to do it.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.