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The Battle for Education Reform Continues: What Are The Next Battles And Where Will They Be Fought?

Recorded on December 3, 2002

The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Recently the Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that the Cleveland voucher program is Constitutional, opening the door for other states to enact parental choice programs. Though a great victory for school choice, it was not the end of the battle. It was merely the end of the beginning and much work remains both in the courts and in the court of public opinion.

State legal barriers remain. Over half of the states have Blaine Amendments that prevent public funds from passing to religious institutions. Fueled by anti-Catholic bigotry over a century ago, these provisions make it difficult, although not impossible, to enact choice programs.

Politics and public opinion remain in play. In state houses, well-funded unions and other groups continue to oppose parental choice. Although the choice movement is growing --10 states have publicly sponsored private school choice programs, from vouchers to tax credits, and 39 states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws -- the opposition has dedicated millions to prevent new gains and roll back existing programs. Fortunately, public support for parental choice in education continues to grow.

Where will the next battle play out?