Nationally Syndicated Columnist George Will Covers Pioneer’s SCOTUS Amicus Brief Topic on School Choice

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

For many years, Pioneer Institute has been a leader in the effort to repeal the Blaine Amendments, legal barriers in Massachusetts and nearly 40 other states that prevent more underprivileged schoolchildren from being able to attend religiously affiliated schools.

Now, nationally syndicated columnist George Will is lending his powerful voice to this important cause with a Washington Post op-ed calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal these harmful amendments. In his column, Will echoes points Pioneer has raised many times over the years (most recently in The Daily Caller), exposing the ugly roots of opposition to school choice: 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry promoted by the Know-Nothing Party and later in that century by corrupt GOP leader, James Blaine, “the continental liar from the state of Maine.”

The sad legacy of the Blaine Amendments today is the struggle of millions of parents to cover tuition costs to send their children to non-public schools better suited to their individual needs. A tuition tax credit scholarship program that would have helped parents like Kendra Espinoza, a single mom in Montana, was shut down by the Montana Department of Revenue and the state Supreme Court, citing the Blaine Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court is now deciding whether or not to hear petitioner Kendra Espinoza’s appeal, and Pioneer recently filed an amicus brief in support of her case. As Pioneer executive director Jim Stergios said, “Kendra Espinoza, like so many other parents, sought the education that best suits the needs of her children. It is hard to believe that an amendment steeped in anti-Catholic bias still stands in her way 130 years after its passage.” The Court is expected to announce whether it will hear the case in early summer.

Kendra Espinoza and her two daughters

Photo credit: Institute for Justice

Closer to home, Massachusetts has the oldest Blaine Amendments, thanks to the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party, which arose in response to a spike in Catholic immigration during the Irish Potato Famine. Pioneer Institute has published numerous reports and op-eds, held public forums, and made countless media appearances calling for their repeal. In 2018, Pioneer produced a documentary, “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams: Ending America’s Bigoted Education Laws,” that chronicles the struggles of four families from Massachusetts (in Framingham and Fall River), Michigan, and Georgia, all states with Blaine Amendments, to send their children to parochial schools. View the film here:

Related Research & Commentary:

The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews on An Optimist’s Guide to American Public Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post and author of the recent book, An Optimist's Guide to American Public Education. Jay describes the three key trends in K-12 schooling that he views as cause for hope.

Study: Systemic Failure in IDEA Implementation for Private School Students with Disabilities in Additional States

On the heels of a $3.8 million settlement for private school students with disabilities in Massachusetts for the state’s failure to comply with provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that require provision of equitable, publicly funded special education services to students in private schools, a Pioneer Institute study finds that two states and three school districts around the country for which data are available also appear to be out of compliance.

Dartmouth’s Prof. Susannah Heschel Discusses Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel & the Civil Rights Movement

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Susannah Heschel, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, and the daughter of noted 20th-century Jewish theologian and Civil Rights-era leader, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. They discuss what teachers and students today should know about Rabbi Heschel’s life and legacy.

Charter schools leading the way with in-person instruction

Massachusetts charter public schools have lived up to their decades-long record of excellence during the pandemic, developing innovative ways to continue providing high-quality education by maximizing the number of students who can safely learn in person.

Best-Selling, Netflix Author Loung Ung On Surviving Pol Pot’s Killing Fields

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Loung Ung, a human-rights activist; the author of the bestselling books First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Lucky Child, and Lulu in the Sky; and a co-screenwriter of the 2017 Netflix Original Movie, First They Killed My Father. Ms. Ung shares her experiences living through genocide under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, which resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population. 

American Federation for Children’s Tommy Schultz on School Choice & Edu Federalism

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Tommy Schultz, CEO-elect of the American Federation for Children (AFC). They discuss how COVID-19 school closures have increased the interest in alternatives to public schools, and what AFC's polling shows on shifts in attitudes toward school choice options in both urban and rural communities.

Key Madison Park Program Lags Other State Voc-Techs, but Shows Signs of Improvement

The co-operative education program at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which places students in paid positions with local employers, lags far behind other Massachusetts vocational-technical schools in terms of both placements and number of employer contacts.  But with the school as a whole beginning to improve after years of turmoil, the co-op is also showing promising signs, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

UGA Prof. Valerie Boyd on Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance, & Black History Month

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard celebrate Black History Month with Professor Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Georgia, and the definitive biographer of Zora Neale Hurston. Boyd discusses why Hurston is such an important novelist and cultural figure, and the influence of Hurston’s 1937 classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, on American literature.

Boston Catholic Schools Supt. Tom Carroll on National Catholic Schools Week

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard celebrate National Catholic Schools Week with Tom Carroll, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. He shares his view of the value that Catholic schools add; the reasons for their success at improving student outcomes and creating a sense of community; and their commitment to serving children from underprivileged backgrounds, regardless of religious affiliation. 

Watch: Pioneer’s Jamie Gass Presents History of Blaine Amendments at Heartland Institute – National School Choice Week 2017

Learn more about how you can help end bigoted education laws!