Vermont Backs Down on Religion-Free School Choice after SCOTUS Knocks Down Maine Policy

Vermont families that want to send their children to religious schools will no longer be excluded from the state’s tuition benefit program, as a result of legal settlements in two cases brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

The plaintiffs who were denied funding under the Town Tuition Program, which provides tuition for students who live in areas without local public schools, will get reimbursement for money spent out of pocket on tuition. Other families denied funding can apply as well.

Read More

Franklin County, Ohio Court Soon to Decide Whether to Continue Voucher Case

In the next few weeks, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page (D) is poised to decide whether a lawsuit against Ohio’s private-school choice program will go forward. 

Litigation against private school choice in the Buckeye State has been in the works since last year when dozens of school districts under the aegis of Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding posited that the state’s EdChoice program harms the state’s ability to properly fund its public schools. The districts suing the state, which now number more than 130, filed their action in January. 

Read More

Robin Vos Looks to Compromise with Governor on Abortion, School Choice, Tax Cuts

The top Republican in the Wisconsin Assembly says he’s willing to work on “solutions” with Gov. Tony Evers. 

Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday said he sees Republicans offering the governor compromises on abortion, school choice and taxes. 

Read More

Florida NAEP Results Offer a Potential Harbinger for Tennessee

The release of the “Nation’s Report Card” on October 24th has led to a variety of pronouncements from a variety of experts. Many have expressed grave concerns over the potential effects on students, due to lost instructional time during the recent COVID pandemic. The value of this national test, designed to measure fourth and eighth-grade student learning, is in of itself a hotly debated issue. While the interpretation of the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which supplies the data for the Report Card, may be open to debate, they do offer a large trove of valuable information that can be used in the consideration and evaluation of policy. In some cases, providing a warning of future outcomes. 

This year, Florida is publically celebrating its successful outcomes. In the wake of the positive results, Governor DeSantis sent out a press release using NEAP results to defend his response to COVID and his commitment to keeping schools open,

“We also knew that younger and at-risk students would be the most impacted if schools were closed, and the results speak for themselves. In Florida our 4thgrade students rank #3 in Reading and #4 in Math, achieving top 4 in both English and Math for the first time in state history, while lockdown California and New York aren’t even in the top 30.”.

While Florida’s fourth-grade results are exceptionally positive, they don’t tell the whole story. 

Read More

Tennessee House GOP Candidate Michelle Foreman Doubles Down on Implementing School Choice as Top Priority

Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Tennessee House of Representatives D-59 GOP candidate Michelle Foreman in studio to reiterate her top priority of school choice in the state of Tennessee.

Read More

Michigan Voters Could Create One of the Nation’s Largest School Choice Programs

Michigan voters will have the chance to create one of the largest school choice programs in the country on Nov. 8.

The Let Michigan Learn Proposal on the Michigan ballot starts with a $500 million cap for school vouchers, one of the largest in the country, and can increase by 20% each year. All students age 5 and older are eligible to apply, but low-income families and students with disabilities would be prioritized.

Read More

Survey: 61 Percent of Americans Say Public Education on Wrong Track

EdChoice’s annual Schooling in America survey found 61 percent of Americans believe government-run education is headed in the wrong direction, while 76% of the public back parental choice programs such as education savings accounts (ESAs).

In 2022, the poll’s tenth anniversary, the survey found 61 percent of Americans and 52 percent of school parents say public schools are on the wrong track, while 34 percent of Americans and 48 percent of school parents state government-led education is headed in the right direction.

Read More

Federal Court Rules for Wisconsin Catholic School in Split Busing Decision

Parents at the St. Augustine School in Colgate could soon be putting their kids on the school bus after a federal judge ended a long-simmering court battle over Wisconsin’s school choice busing program.

A federal judge in Milwaukee last week issued a final decision in the case that questioned both First Amendment religious protections and Wisconsin state law.

Read More

Arizona State Officials Call Upon Katie Hobbs to Reject Universal ESA Law Referendum

Arizona officials are now calling out Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to expedite the signature counting process for the referendum against Arizona’s Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) law, including the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Ben Toma (R-Maricopa).

“We expect that your office will have formally rejected the referendum petition as legally insufficient no later than the opening of business on Friday morning,” Toma said in a letter to Hobbs. “If the full and effective implementation of H.B. 2853 continues to be obstructed, the Arizona House of Representatives will exercise its constitutional oversight function in order to find facts and ultimately to determine what, if any, legislation may be required to prohibit, deter, and penalize such dishonesty in future campaigns and administrations, and to ensure that the statutory procedures for filing and processing ballot measure petitions cannot be manipulated to enable such misconduct.”

Read More

Teachers with Rutherford County Schools Publicly Battle American Classical Academy Charter School

A number of school teachers in Rutherford County took advantage of a public comment form in order to speak out against what would be a competing charter school in the county. 

In the open public comments, 255 of 311 comments were in favor of Rutherford County Schools, meaning that about four in five of the commenters said they did not want the American Classical Academy, a Hillsdale College affiliated school, to open in the county. 

Read More

Wisconsin Senator Hits Opponent on School Choice

Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator is making an issue out of what his reelection campaign is calling Mandela Barnes’ hypocrisy on school choice.

“After Lt. Gov. Barnes has reaped the benefits of private school, he has sought to prevent that choice for parents who only want what is best for their children. Barnes is a hypocrite who is only out for his own political gain,” Mike Marinella with the Johnson Campaign told The Center Square.

Read More

First Lady Youngkin Presents Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin presented the Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream, an organization that partners with the Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Henrico school districts to operate six schools serving 2,000 students in total.

“Education is a critical component of opportunity for all and An Achievable Dream’s approach to caring for the whole student, supporting families, and setting high standards is unparalleled,” Youngkin said in a Wednesday press release. “When we honor Virginians who are changing lives for the better, we need look no further than the administrators and teachers in these schools.”

Read More

Florida and Arizona Top-Ranked States in Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card

The Heritage Foundation ranked Florida, followed by Arizona, as the states that most empower parents in their children’s education and support education freedom.

On Friday Heritage published its first Education Freedom Report Card which provides measures of the concept in four categories: school choice, academic transparency, regulation freedom, and spending.

Read More

Connecticut GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Bob Stefanowski Announces ‘Parental Bill of Rights’

Connecticut Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski announced a “Parental Bill of Rights” that seeks to empower the state’s parents to make education and healthcare decisions for their children.

“During the last several years, the pendulum has swung too far against the rights of parents and their ability to make critical decisions for their children in terms of education, healthcare, and the teaching of moral values they hold dear,” Stefanowski said Tuesday. “As Governor, I am going to reverse that trend and restore parental rights in a significant and meaningful way.”

Read More

Buckeye Institute Report Offers Solutions to Ohio Students’ Learning Loss

Responding to major learning loss suffered by Ohio students as a result of the school closures following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Columbus-based Buckeye Institute recommended policy solutions this week to help students regain what the education system did not provide. 

On March 30, 2020, Republican Governor Mike DeWine ordered all in-person K-12 schooling closed throughout the state for the remainder of that school year. Students instead participated in “virtual classrooms” wherein they would watch their teachers’ instructions online. During the 2020-21 school year, many school districts continued to keep school buildings closed at least part-time. 

Read More

Arizona Attorney General’s Office Asked to Take Actions Against Local School Board Event

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute (GI) made a request to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) Wednesday, asking it to take action against a school board event that would use taxpayer dollars to oppose school choice.

“Arizonans should be appalled to learn that school districts are using taxpayer resources to have district employees participate in an event clearly geared toward a political objective,” said GI Senor Attorney Scott Day Freeman. “All Arizona families should be free to make educational choices for their children without having the government work against them by rigidly defending a status quo that protects bureaucrats and government unions.”

Read More

Commentary: School Choice Helps Special Needs Students

As summer comes to an end, parents are once again questioning whether neighborhood schools can give their children what they need.

According to the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), low-income students are 2.8 years’ worth of learning behind their more affluent peers. Similarly, a Reveal analysis of hundreds of public schools across Georgia found that most special education courses are being taught by underqualified teachers. This is not the fault of the teachers, the majority are doing their best while dealing with overcrowded classrooms and unrealistic expectations from leadership-heavy school systems. However, this does not change the fact that it is a problem.

Read More

Gov. Bill Lee Announces More than 600 Applications for Tennessee’s Education Savings Account Program: ‘We’re Just Getting Started’

More than 600 applications for Tennessee’s new Education Savings Account (ESA) Program have been filed by Tennessee families, Governor Bill Lee (R) announced Thursday in a video message.

“We’ve been working overtime to get the ESA program up and running for this school year,” Lee said.

Read More

Independent Women’s Forum’s Angela Morabito on Poor and Minority Kids Trapped in Failing Schools

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Visiting Fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum, Angela Morabito to the newsmaker line to explain how white Democratic liberals are trapping minority students in failing schools.

Read More

School Choice Advocates Remind Philadelphia Parents of Options as District Workers Prepare to Strike

As unionized public-school staffers protest the School District of Philadelphia’s failure to assent to the union’s salary and training terms, threatening to strike at the beginning of the school year, school-choice advocates are reminding parents of alternatives.

Bus drivers, custodians, maintenance staff and other workers represented by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ have authorized a strike that could compromise the resumption of schooling that is scheduled for next Monday. Pro-strike workers insist they are underpaid, noting that cleaners make roughly $16,000 per year at the low end. At the high end, construction inspectors make approximately $70,000.

Read More

Billboards Advertise Choice as Teacher Strike Keeps Columbus Kids Out of School

As a teacher strike keeps Columbus students out of the classroom in the first week of the school year, advocates for Christian education are advertising private school choice on five billboards around the city. 

The signs read, “COLUMBUS CITY SCHOOLS LOCKS KIDS OUT… AGAIN,” referencing long periods during which schools were closed in response to COVID-19. The ads, placed by the Columbus-based Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), let passers by know that various Ohio school-choice programs are available to families, particularly low-income ones. CCV is encouraging interested parents to visit BackpackBill.com/Columbus to learn about these opportunities. 

Read More

Tennessee Department of Education Sends First Approval Letters to Families Applying for Education Savings Accounts

The Tennessee Department of Education has sent out its first approval letters to families applying for the state’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program, with 46 applicants approved thus far, out of a total number of 517, as of Wednesday.

“To note, an award for an Education Savings Account does not mean that a student is accepted to a participating private school,” said Brian Blackley, director of media for the department. “A student must still apply to a participating private school. A participating private school’s decision to accept or reject a student is the sole decision of the school.”

Read More

Governor Bill Lee: Tennessee Has Not Approved Any School Education Savings Accounts for Families

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) said Friday the state has not yet approved any school Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for families seeking to choose education options outside of public schools.

“There are about 250 families that have actually applied (but) those approvals have not been made yet,” Lee said according to an updated report Saturday from the Associated Press (AP). “The process is underway.”

Read More

Michigan School Choice Initiative Clears Signature Hurdle for November Ballot

Let MI Kids Learn filed more than 520,000 signatures with the Michigan Bureau of Elections to put an education choice initiative on this November’s general election ballot.

If the ballot initiative is approved by voters, the Michigan legislature can approve the initiative immediately. Previously, both the state House and Senate passed the bill similar to what 21 states have as law, but Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declined to sign it.

Read More

School Choice Gaining Favor over Teachers’ Unions and Socialist Bureaucrats

“School choice is good for everybody but unions, socialist bureaucrats and the tired education establishment,” libertarian John Stossel wrote Wednesday at the New York Post.

The author and journalist observed the “silver lining” of the COVID pandemic is that parents discovered alternatives to public schools and, as the statistics are telling us, they continue to act on that discovery by removing their children from them – in droves.

Read More

Recent Report Reveals How Public School Spending in Arizona Surged During Pandemic

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute recently shared that a report from Matt Beienburg, Goldwater’s Director of Education Policy, reveals how spending surged in Arizona’s Public School system, but not for the actual needs of students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an era of unprecedented spending on public K-12 schools, yet available evidence suggests that the bonanza of federal spending was almost entirely avoidable and that much of it will likely serve a very different purpose than the one originally sold to policymakers and the public,” according to Goldwater Institute.

Read More

Youngkin Approval at 49 Percent, Majority Support Failed Gas Tax Suspension in VCU Poll

Governor Glenn Youngkin hit 49 percent job approval and 38 percent disapproval in a new poll from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The poll included questions focused on key budget policy debates, and reports 58 percent support a three-month gas tax suspension.

“The responses in the poll suggest what I have always stated: The people are always ahead of the leaders,” former Governor Doug Wilder said in a press release. “The grocery tax proposal is very receptive; gas tax suspension and/or stipend is greeted positively, which can be viewed as a direct response to rising inflation.”

Read More

Commentary: Government Is the Biggest Obstacle to Educational Freedom

In Massachusetts where I live, average private school tuition hovers around $23,000. For secular private schools, the cost is typically much higher, with Boston-area private school tuition often exceeding $40,000. This price tag is way too high for most families to afford, but emerging microschools are typically a fraction of the cost of other private education options. 

For example, the Wilder School is a new Acton Academy-affiliated microschool that costs about $12,000 a year, while Life Rediscovered, a new homeschool resource center offering up to five days a week of full-day, drop-off learning, costs about $10,000. Even established local microschools, such as Bay State Learning Center that was founded in 2014 and that I wrote about in Unschooled, have similar tuition costs and frequently offer financial aid or sliding scale tuition.

Read More

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Budget

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Friday signed Pennsylvania’s $45 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23.

The governor and Republican-controlled legislature were only able to agree to the fiscal blueprint a week after the June 30 deadline. Revenues covering budget items include $42.8 billion in state taxpayer dollars and $2 billion in federal money. 

Read More

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Most Expansive School Choice Program in Nation

Governor Doug Ducey (R) said Thursday Arizona is now the “top state for school choice” and the “first state in the nation to offer all families” school choice options.

Ducey signed into law House Bill 2853, which allows all K-12 students in Arizona to be eligible for scholarship funds so they may access the education setting that best fits their needs.

Read More

Commentary: Arizona’s New School Choice Bill Moves Us Closer to Milton Friedman’s Vision

“Our goal is to have a system in which every family in the U.S. will be able to choose for itself the school to which its children go,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman stated in 2003. “We are far from that ultimate result. If we had that, a system of free choice, we would also have a system of competition, innovation, which would change the character of education.”

Read More

Ohio Group Voices Support for Anti-School-Choice Lawsuit in West Virginia

An Ohio group that has been fighting against school choice vouchers in its own state is expressing support for a lawsuit that is seeking to halt a West Virginia school voucher program.

As Ohio lawmakers have considered legislation to expand school choice, the group called Vouchers Hurt Ohio stated that lawmakers are looking at other states, such as West Virginia, for how to craft their school choice programs.

Read More

Teachers’ Unions Condemn Supreme Court Decision Upholding Religious Freedom and School Choice

National and state teachers’ unions condemned the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday that held a Maine tuition assistance program that bars families from using the taxpayer funds for religious schools is in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Union officials denounced the ruling as one that “attacks public schools,” “erodes democracy,” “harms students,” and undermines “the separation of church and state.”

Read More

Supreme Court Rules Maine Law Excluding Religious Schools from Tuition Assistance Is Unconstitutional

In a major decision for religious freedom and school choice, the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a Maine law that barred taxpayer tuition assistance funds from families choosing religious schools.

The Court ruled, 6-3, in Carson v. Makin, the Maine law that governs its tuition program’s exclusion of religious schools, while accepting other private schools, is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

Read More

Arizona Legislature Considering ‘Most Expansive Education Savings Account Program in the Nation’

The 2022 Arizona legislative session is almost over, but there are still a few key bills policy watchers say have a good chance of making it into law. One is HB 2853, which would expand school choice by opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in the state.

Cory DeAngelis, a national education policy expert who serves as national director of research for the school choice organization, American Federation for Children, tweeted, “This would be the most expansive education savings account program in the nation. All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

Read More

School Choice Research Director Corey DeAngelis: One-Size-Fits-All System ‘Not Going to Work’ for Diverse Population with Differing Child-Rearing Goals

Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, guest host Gulbransen welcomed Corey DeAngelis National Director of Research at School Choice to the newsmaker line to discuss the divide between parents and how they want to educate their children.

Read More

Michael Bloomberg Blames Teachers’ Unions for Keeping Money Flowing to Traditional Government Schools and Away from Charter Schools

Former Democrat New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says teachers’ unions were responsible for keeping schools locked down during the pandemic, a move that has enabled a mass exodus of students from traditional government schools throughout the country.

Given the generally poor academic achievement of America’s students, the steep drop in enrollment means states are now paying more to educate fewer children, and, “paying more for failure,” he asserts.

Read More

Tennesseans for Liberty Chairman Adrian Eddleman on Mission, School Choice Event, and Closed Primaries

Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed the Chairman of Tennesseans for Liberty, Adrian Edelman to the newsmaker line to talk about their mission and school choice event.

Read More

Arizona Charter Schools Rank First in the Nation: Report

Arizona is frequently criticized for funding its schools less than most of the other states, usually tied for last with a handful of other states. But what doesn’t get covered as much is that it is ranked number one among the states for academic growth and charter schools.

Matthew Ladner, director of the Arizona Center for Educational Opportunity, a researcher with the Arizona Charter Schools Association, and former vice president of research for the Goldwater Institute, told The Arizona Sun Times, “If you had to choose between states with the most funding or states with the most academic growth, which one would you choose?”

Read More

School Choice About Options, Not Dismantling Public Schools, Republicans Say

HERNDON, Virginia – Panelists at the Republican Advance told attendees at a school choice breakout session that the goal of GOP efforts is to get tax dollars to follow children even when they leave public schools, providing more opportunities for families. Panelists described the push for school choice as a way to empower parents and use capitalism-style competition to motivate improvement in public schools without dismantling the system.

“We need to make sure we’re not so focused on school choice, which we should be, I mean that is one of the pathways to a better education, but focusing on the fact that we need to find ways to better educate our children should be the primary goal,” former Loudoun County School Board member Jill Turgeon said at the Saturday breakout session.

Read More

School Choice Supporters Encouraged by Latest Marquette Poll on Vouchers

More parents in Wisconsin are getting behind the idea of school choice.

The latest Marquette Law School Poll shows 58% of voters in the state support the idea of ending limits on vouchers for private or religious schools. That would open up school choice to more than just low-income families in many parts of Wisconsin. The poll says 33% of voters oppose the idea.

Read More

New Poll Shows Governor Tony Evers Underwater as November Election Draws Closer

A new poll from Morning Consult showed that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is “underwater” with voters as the November election draws closer.

More individuals disapprove of his job performance than those who support it. Specifically, 48 percent of residents in the state express their disapproval, while only 45 said they approve of the performance.

Read More

Thales Academy Opens First Rural County School in Pittsboro, North Carolina

Thales Academy opened the doors of its brand new building in Pittsboro, North Carolina, Monday, as about 100 students from the academy’s Cary campus moved to the new facility in rural Chatham County.

“Chatham is the first time that Thales has been in a rural county,” Bob Luddy, the founder and chairman of Thales Academy, told The Star News Network. “So, my thought was having a facility of that quality in a rural county that’s a private initiative is going to change the way people think about K-12 education.”

Read More

Commentary: Three States Are Rethinking the Relationship Between Housing and Education Quality

Most of the nation’s 48.2 million public K-12 students are assigned to their schools based on geographic school districts or attendance zones, with few options for transferring to another public school district. This method of school assignment intertwines schooling with property wealth, limiting families’ education options according to where they can afford to live.

A 2019 Senate Joint Economic Committee report found that homes near highly rated schools were four times the cost of homes near poorly rated schools. This presents a real barrier for many families – and 56% of respondents in a 2019 Cato survey indicated that expensive housing costs prevented them from moving to better neighborhoods. The challenge has only deepened as housing prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, putting better housing and education options out of reach for many.

Read More

Commentary: Racially Sensitive ‘Restorative’ School Discipline Isn’t Behaving Very Well

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

The fight outside North High School in Denver was about to turn more violent as one girl wrapped a bike chain around her fist to strike the other. Just before the attacker used the weapon, school staff arrived and restrained her, ending the fight but not the story.

Most high schools would have referred the chain-wielding girl to the police. But North High brought the two girls together to resolve the conflict through conversation. They discovered that a boy was playing them off each other. Feeling less hostile after figuring out the backstory, the girls did not fight again.

This alternative method of discipline, called “restorative practices,” is spreading across the country – and being put to the test. Many schools are enduring sharp increases in violence following the return of students from COVID lockdowns, making this softer approach a higher-stakes experiment in student safety.

Read More

State Senator Jack Johnson on Residency Bill Lawsuit, School Choice and His Senate Seat Challenger

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmaker line to discuss the residency bill lawsuit, school choice, and the challenger for his senate seat.

Read More