The School Choice Landscape May Soon Be Rocked to Foundation

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The tectonic plates under Michigan’s school choice landscape may be shifting, with school choice reality as we know it ready to shift.

The United States Supreme Court recently announced their intention to hear oral arguments in a case called Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.  The outcome of the case could overturn laws in 37 states – including Michigan – rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry to prevent families, particularly families of faith, from fairly accessing the education of their choice for their kids.
 
The hateful rules are called Blaine Amendments, after 19th century politician James Blaine, who used these laws to promote an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant agenda. More than 100 years after their inception, and nearly 50 years since Michigan adopted its own version, the Supreme Court could soon take a stand.
 
It’s one of the most important school choice and religious liberty issues in modern U.S. history.  Keep reading to learn a little more, and to join the fight for every student’s rights, no matter their personal faith.
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Beth DeShone
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project
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Detroit News:Jacques: Could this be a school choice game changer?

“We hope the court will continue to guarantee our constitutional rights and freedoms when it considers a case about the ‘last acceptable prejudice,’” DeVos told the crowd at last month’s Mackinac RepublicanLeadership Conference. “I’m referring to the bigoted Blaine amendments that restrict the freedom of the family to decide the best educational environment for their children ‘simply because of what it is’ — a faith-based education.” 
“Resistance to (Governor William Milliken’s) proposal (to provide aid to Catholic and private schools), referred to as ‘parochiaid,’ stoked the flames of bigotry. ‘I have never witnessed such anti-Catholic sentiment in my life,’ one state senator observed.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue. Montana is 1 of 37 states with what is known as a “Blaine amendment” in their constitutions. These were named after the 19th century U.S. politician, James Blaine, who championed them to win the anti-immigrant vote. They were designed specifically to prevent public dollars from underwriting Catholic education, even as Protestant Bible readings and prayers were commonplace in state-funded public schools at the time.” 
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The Supreme Court’s upcoming hearing in the Espinoza case could turn the page on decades of anti-religious bigotry in the way Michigan and the rest of the nation funds education.

 
Overturning hateful and harmful Blaine amendments would free up states to invest in students, no matter where they go to school or what their faith or the faith of their parents.  That means newer and better educational options for every Michigan student, at no additional cost to taxpayers.
 
We begin every education policy discussion by asking a simple question– what’s in the best interest of students? Empowering them with new educational options – especially those students currently trapped in schools that may not be working for them – is the first step state government can take to put students first.
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You can stay up-to-date on the Espinoza case, the action in the Supreme Court, and the fight to defend Michigan students by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
Parents deserve A-F school report cards, but Michigan has gone 50 days without following the law. Please contact the State Board of Education and ask them to implement A-F letter grades for all Michigan schools, as required under the law!


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