As education scholars at AEI put it, Douglas County, Colorado is the “most interesting school district in America” as it “tests the limits of education reform.” And like any good reforms, Douglas County’s revolutionary changes (which are likely important factors in making DougCo one of the fastest growing counties in the country) are being attacked by teachers unions, the ACLU, and other statist and anti-religion interests.
The Colorado State Supreme Court recently announced that it would hear the challenge against Douglas County’s school choice program. While most observers expect (though without great certainty) that the Court will uphold the appeals court’s ruling in favor of the program (overturing the prior ruling against the program by a liberal activist judge), the fact that this is going to the state’s highest court makes it a critical and highly visible event in nationwide efforts to wrestle control over our kids’ educations from teachers unions and bloated school district bureaucracies and return them to people who actually care: parents and teachers.
Although I am not religious, I find the arguments of the ACLU and others that these programs represent a constitutional violation of the prohibition against government establishment of religion to be ridiculous as a matter of law and to be harmful as a matter of public policy, trying to strip parents of the right to seek the best possible education for their children.
Many of those opposing DougCo’s school reforms seem to have gone to the Melissa Harris-Perry school of parenting: “We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents…” (For the record, although I have heard lots of liberals say lots of things, I have rarely heard anything as reprehensible, as harmful, as tyrannical as this point of view — which is nothing more than the logical extension of Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village.”)
Clearly, and the Supreme Court of the United States has already made this clear in the Zelman case, if the program is neutral as to religion, if the aid is going to the parents, if the program’s aim isn’t religious, if many different kinds of people can benefit, and if any benefit to a religiously-affiliated organization is incidental to the program’s results, then the program is constitutional.
As an attorney for the Institute for Justice, which is representing the Douglas County School District, notes, “It’s not surprising that the court accepted the case, but it’s unfortunate because the scholarship program’s implementation is going to be delayed.”