Religious schools all across America are providing future generations with the high-quality academics and values-based education so many families are seeking. But not enough parents are able to afford to send their children to these schools. Pioneer Institute believes all children deserve access to these and other non-public academic options, through tax credit scholarships that help meet tuition costs. A June 30, 2020 Supreme Court decision in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case dealt a severe blow to anti-religious legal barriers known as Blaine Amendments, in 37 states, that are blocking these programs. Thanks to the plaintiffs, courageous Montana moms including Kendra Espinoza, who took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court, there’s hope that we can end these Blaine Amendments and help potentially millions of children attend excellent schools. Learn more about policy opportunities and challenges below.
Education tax credit programs extend choice to families who can’t afford private schools or to move to a tony community
Lead Plaintiff Kendra Espinoza & IJ’s Attorney Erica Smith on Landmark SCOTUS School Choice Decision
Public Statement: Pioneer Institute Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Espinoza School Choice Case
Kendra Espinoza, a single mom in Montana, sought a better education for her daughters. In public school, one daughter was bullied and the other struggled academically. Both would later thrive in a parochial school.
After the Montana Supreme Court struck down her state’s education tax credit program, Ms. Espinoza was denied access to the scholarships her children badly needed. She and two other Montana moms facing similar plights took their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and they WON! Pioneer Institute filed amicus briefs in support of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and worked to raise public awareness about this momentous case through op-eds, podcast episodes, and social media.
For over a decade, Pioneer has raised our voice in support of these excellent academic options, and tools such as tax credit scholarships that would enable more families to attend. Pioneer has held public forums, published research on the benefits of religious education, on programs that would help increase access for more low-income families, successful models such as Cristo Rey and vocational-tech programs, raising awareness of the dangers of adopting Common Core, and of state government agencies’ practice of depriving religious school students of special needs services and access to school nurses. Pioneer has also convened key stakeholders; appeared in local and national press; produced a documentary film on the impact of legal barriers to school choice, and much more.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, on June 30, 2020 – a major victory for school choice. Help us get the message out about the bigoted legacy of the Blaine Amendments and their negative impact on families across Massachusetts and America so we can continue the work to end legal barriers to school choice in all 50 states!
Your tax-deductible gift will allow Pioneer to raise public awareness about the hardships that the Blaine Amendments are causing for families like the Espinozas in 38 states.