Lead Plaintiff Kendra Espinoza & IJ’s Attorney Erica Smith on Landmark SCOTUS School Choice Decision

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week, in a special segment of “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are honored to be joined by Kendra Espinoza, lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, just decided yesterday, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Erica Smith, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs. Kendra shares what motivated her and her daughters, Naomi and Sarah, to take such a courageous stand for school choice and religious liberty, and describes her experience being the lead plaintiff in a high-profile Supreme Court case. She also discusses the other Montana moms involved in the case, their reaction to the successful outcome, and the realization of the impact it will have on so many families across the country. Erica shares her thoughts on the decision’s wide-ranging constitutional implications; some surprising aspects of the decision that may prompt future legal battles; and a preview of a state-by-state analysis on which states are best positioned to expand access to school choice now.

Story of the Week: Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case, involving Montana parents who were denied access to a state tax credit program when they sought to use it to send their children to religious schools. The Court held that Montana’s Blaine Amendment cannot be used to exclude religious school parents from the state education tax credit program. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

Guests

Kendra Espinoza is the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. She is a working, single mother of daughters Naomi and Sarah, who attend Stillwater Christian School. They were recipients of Montana’s education tax credit program until the Montana Department of Revenue, citing the state’s Blaine Amendment, issued a rule excluding Stillwater Christian from the program on religious grounds.

Erica Smith is an attorney with the Institute for Justice. She joined IJ in August 2011 and litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting economic liberty, school choice, and free speech in federal and state courts. Erica received her law degree cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

 

Get Updates on Our School Choice Research

Related Posts

Georgia’s Alisha Thomas Searcy on School Choice, Teacher Unions, & Elections

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Alisha Thomas Searcy, the Democratic nominee for Georgia state school superintendent. She shares her experience as a former six-term state legislator and school leader; her recent bid for Georgia’s top education post; and her passion for K-12 education reform.

KaiPod Learning’s Amar Kumar on Homeschooling Pods & Blended Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Amar Kumar, founder and CEO of KaiPod Learning, a network of in-person education centers for online learners and homeschoolers, based in Massachusetts. They discuss how the pandemic dramatically changed parents’ sentiments about their traditional public schools, opening the door to wider private school choice options, including homeschooling, micro schools, and pods.

NACSA’s Dr. Karega Rausch on Charter Public School Authorizing

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Karega Rausch, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Dr. Rausch shares some of his background, his interest in K-12 education reform and charter public schools, and lessons from Indiana and other states that inform his work.

Two Stars in a Glowing Voc-Tech Education System

“A Tale of Two City Schools: Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy Become Models for Recovery” is a new white paper by Pioneer Institute that analyzes how Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy — schools with high numbers of low-income and special needs students — leapt from the bottom of Massachusetts voc-tech rankings to become leaders among local schools.

Doug Lemov on Teach Like a Champion & Successful Charter Public Schools

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Charles Chieppo talk with Doug Lemov, author of the international bestseller, Teach Like a Champion. Doug describes how he became interested in charter schools, dating back to the late 1990s in Massachusetts, and how the sector developed into a nationally recognized success story.

School-Age Population Remains Steady, but Boston Struggles With Declining Enrollment

/
Hopefully, new leadership will ensure that the system makes the changes necessary to improve public education in Boston. Otherwise, enrollment declines will continue. 

METCO’s Milly Arbaje-Thomas & Researcher Roger Hatch on MA’s Voluntary School Desegregation Program

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Milly Arbaje-Thomas, President & CEO of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (METCO) and Roger Hatch, co-author of Pioneer’s report, METCO Funding: Understanding Massachusetts’ Voluntary School Desegregation Program.

Engaged Detroit Founder Bernita Bradley on Homeschooling, Urban Education, & Parent-Driven Reforms

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Bernita Bradley, founder and president of Engaged Detroit, a parent-driven urban homeschooling advocacy coalition.

Lead Plaintiff David Carson & IJ Attorney Arif Panju on Landmark SCOTUS Decision Carson v. Makin

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Arif Panju, a managing attorney with the Institute for Justice and co-counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court school choice case, Carson v. Makin; and David Carson, the lead plaintiff. Panju shares the key legal contours of Carson v. Makin and the potential impact of the Court’s decision in favor of the plaintiffs.

AEI’s Robert Pondiscio on E.D. Hirsch, Civic Education, & Charter Public Schools

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He shares his background working with curriculum expert E.D. Hirsch, Jr., who has emphasized the importance of academic content knowledge in K-12 education as well as civic education to develop active participants in our democracy. Pondiscio explains some of the findings of his book, How the Other Half Learns, on New York’s Success Academy charter schools network.

Hoover at Stanford’s Dr. Macke Raymond on the Current State of K-12 Education Reform

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Margaret “Macke” Raymond, founder and director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. She shares some of the major highlights from Hoover’s recent Education Summit that featured a wide variety of national and international experts.

David Ferreira & Chris Sinacola on MA’s Nation-Leading Voc-Tech Schools

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Chris Sinacola and David Ferreira, co-editors of Pioneer’s new book, Hands-On Achievement: Massachusetts’s National Model Vocational-Technical Schools. They share information from their new book on the story of the Bay State’s nation-leading voc-tech schools, and how accountability tools from the state’s 1993 education reform law propelled their success.