On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision in support of school choice in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue. The Montana legislature had passed a tax credit scholarship program that would allow state funding of educational scholarships to qualified students to attend private schools, including religious ones.
The Montana Supreme Court nullified the law, citing its state constitutional ban on government funds being used for education at religious schools, so called Blaine Amendment. The SCOTUS found that “once a state decides to subsidize private education, it cannot disqualify private schools solely because they are religious.”
So what does that mean for California? First, California does not have any legislative school choice program to financially assist parents to get a quality private education. Many parents are displeased with the poor-quality instruction and agenda-driven education pushed in the government-run schools, especially the morally offensive comprehensive sexual education and gender fluidity curriculum. Second, the California constitution has a similar Blaine Amendment, and the Legislature will never pass school choice because it is controlled by the teachers union.
So the only alternative is the initiative process.
The California School Choice Foundation has proposed a state constitutional amendment to allow funding of educational savings accounts (known as ESAs) for any California student using Prop 98 funds (about $12,000 a year per student) and allow parents to use the funds to cover educational expenses for public, private, parochial, charter or home schools. Any remaining ESA funds after graduation can be used for college tuition or vocational training. To learn more and get this on the 2022 ballot, visit californiaschoolchoice.org.
Dale Broome, California School Choice Foundation, San Bernardino County coordinator.