State Capitol News
12:25 am
Tue October 28, 2008

Court to hear school voucher dispute

Phoenix, AZ – The state's high court agreed today to decide the legality of a
program that gives public funds to some parents to send their
children to private and parochial schools. Arizona Public Radio's
Howard Fischer reports.


The 2006 law provides vouchers to parents of some children with
special needs. Those vouchers -- essentially checks drawn on the
state treasury -- can be used to pay tuition and fees for
students at non-public schools. The state Court of Appeals struck
down the law earlier this year, saying it runs afoul of a
constitutional provision which specifically bars the use of state
funds for private and parochial schools. Tim Keller of the
Institute for Justice, which supports the vouchers, said the
decision by the Supreme Court to review that ruling gives him his
chance to argue the vouchers are legal.

(The question is who primarily benefits from the program. And
here the primary beneficiaries are clearly parents and children,
not the private sectarian schools.)

Keller may have an uphill fight. In voiding the law, the Court of
Appeals said adopting that view would be to ignore the plain
language of the constitution. In fact the judges told lawmakers
that if they want to help parents pay tuition at private and
parochial schools they should propose a constitutional amendment
and see if voters will adopt it. No date has been set for the
hearing.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.