Every parent should be able to have a say in his or her child’s future. That is why the Institute for Justice has teamed up with the State of Indiana and two parents to defend the new Choice Scholarship Program from legal challenges by teachers’ unions. This case will be argued in November before the state Supreme Court. The goal in defending the program is to ensure that parents have the greatest choice of educational options for their children.
The Choice Scholarship Program provides publicly funded scholarships that low- and middle-income parents can use to send their children to a private or public school of the parents’ choice. The teachers’ unions in Indiana filed suit claiming the program is aimed at benefitting religious institutions. Not so. The program is instead aimed at benefitting parents and students. No funds reach a school without parents making an independent decision to send their children to that school, and parents have several options from which to choose including keeping their children in their current public school, sending them to another public school, sending them to a private non-religious school, or sending them to a private religious school.
For these reasons the trail court judge upheld the program as constitutional—a result that vindicated the right of Indiana parents to oversee the education and upbringing of their children. Indeed, thanks to the Choice Scholarship Program, approximately 9,000 students across Indiana can travel the educational path that parents chose rather than remain trapped in public schools assigned to them by the education establishment the unions seek to defend.
IJ represents Heather Coffy, a single mother of three, who wants her children to have the individual attention they need to learn. The Choice Scholarship Program and similar programs seek to give parents the ability to choose chose a school where their child will learn in a way that works for each individual child. Coffy said, “All that I want is the opportunity to choose the school that will give my children the quality education they deserve. The Choice Scholarship Program creates that opportunity for me and other parents all over Indiana, and that is why I am fighting to save it.”
Parents like Coffy can be found across Indiana. The U.S. Constitution protects every American citizen’s right to make choices about their own lives, and programs like the Choice Scholarship Program ensure that parents have the financial means to exercise that choice when it comes to securing the best education available for their children. IJ Senior Attorney Dick Komer said, “This case is about who should control the education of low- and middle-income children in Indiana. The teachers’ unions believe they should have the power to limit other people’s choices—that low- and middle-income parents should not have the freedom to select among the widest variety of educational options. That is why they filed this lawsuit.”
Morally, no one should have the ability to control another person’s life. Forcing a child to attend an underperforming public school is fundamentally wrong, and the only way to stop that from happening is to give parents a choice to send their child to a better school. That’s what the Choice Scholarship Program does, and that’s why it is so important for the future of education in Indiana. The teachers’ unions could have embraced this program, but they instead sued to stop it. Only if they fail can Indiana continue to work successfully toward the goal of enabling all students in Indiana to get the best education possible.
Sarah Allison is a communications associate with the Institute for Justice, which is defending Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program in court. For more information, visit www.ij.org.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire