Private scholarship programs faced turbulent waters up and down the Atlantic coast this week. In Florida, a constitutional amendment to undo the state Supreme Court's anti-voucher decision failed in the Senate by one vote, and although the Senate may reconsider the issue, it seems unwilling to do so (patience is waning). The stakes are high, especially for the hundreds of low-income students participating in the Opportunity Scholarship Program who are headed back to crummy public schools unless the governor and his allies prevail. Meanwhile, Maine's supreme court ruled that lawmakers are free to exclude religious schools from the state's "tuitioning program," which allows, Vermont-style, rural families to send their children to private schools at government expense (in the absence of a nearby public school). But there is a silver lining. According to the court, the legislature is free to add the religious-schools option if it wants to. The Institute for Justice-which argues that excluding religious schools from the program is tantamount to religious discrimination-is hinting at an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here's hoping for smoother sailing on the shores of the mighty Potomac.
"Senate reverses, keeps hope for vouchers alive," by Joni James and Letitia Stein, St. Petersburg Times, May 3, 2006
"Bush suffers voucher defeat," by Letitia Stein and Steve Bousquet, St. Petersburg Times, May 2, 2006
"Court: State still can't fund religious schools," by David Sharp, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, April 27, 2006