SPECIAL UPDATE FROM MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
June 27, 2002
www.educationreport.org/pubs/med

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U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM; MICHIGAN POLL RESULTS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court issued a monumental decision today, upholding the Cleveland school voucher program as constitutional.

On the last day of their term, the justices overturned by a 5-4 vote a U.S. appeals court ruling that struck down the experimental private school voucher program in Cleveland for violating constitutional church-state separation. The Cleveland program provides poor parents with publicly-funded $2,250 scholarships for their children to attend the participating private school of their choice.

In one of the most important church-state cases in decades on an issue that could reshape American education, the high court said in an opinion by Chief Justice William Rehnquist that the program passed constitutional muster.

The voucher ruling, with sweeping national consequences for education policy, cleared the way for other cities and states to try similar school choice programs, such as vouchers and tax credits.

Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy Executive Vice President Joseph Lehman says the ruling opens the door for increased freedom in education and more competition among schools, improving education for all children.

"This decision is a great victory for the children in our country," Lehman said. "It will open the door for more choice programs, allowing parents to choose the best and safest schools for their children."

In a recent Mackinac Center poll conducted by EPIC/MRA, results showed that while just 43 percent of respondents said they would support a voucher program today, support for school choice jumped to 67 percent when respondents were asked if they would support an education tax credit similar to the one crafted by the Mackinac Center.

Opponents of the program, including school employee unions, say vouchers, which make it easier for parents to take their children out of public schools, drain much-needed resources from the nation's struggling public schools and benefit relatively few students.
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SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Supreme Court Upholds School Voucher Program," June 27, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A54620-2002Jun27

Supreme Court of the United States, "Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris," June 27, 2002
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/01pdf/00-1751.pdf

National Review, "Good News for Education," June 27, 2002
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-walker062702.asp

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Wants School Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4434

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Two-Thirds of Michigan Voters Want School Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4435

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," November 1997
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=362



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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
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