Well, that was fast. The newly-elected, left-leaning Douglas County School Board promised during the most recent campaign that it would discontinue the Choice Scholarship program (aka the voucher program), which was a pilot program that would have allowed 500 students to transfer funding dedicated to their education to a private school. The American Civil Liberties Union, which campaigned for the board majority, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit as is newly-elected board member Kevin Leung. The board majority was sworn in on November 28th and the board held a special meeting on December 4, less than a week later, to kill the program.
This program was a landmark program that was making its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and had the potential to strike down unconstitutional Blaine Amendments, which were inserted in Colorado’s constitution (and 36 other state constitution) to discriminate against Catholics back when that was still acceptable (no, not yesterday, we’re talking early 20th century). Blaine Amendments prevent kids stuck in failing schools (often in inner cities) from using the dollars that the district would use to educate them at a parochial school, sometimes the only other option in their neighborhood. Not having to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court is a pretty sweet payoff for the ACLU – and for the teachers union, which also worked tirelessly to elect the current board majority.
While this is annoying for parents in Douglas County who hoped to use the funds to send their kids to private schools, this program could have been life changing for kids who are seeking educational opportunity. In short, the Douglas County School Board just potentially killed opportunity for poor kids across the country.
But it’s not like you’d hear that or anything. See, the new school board, guessing (correctly) that killing this program and the related lawsuit would be unpopular shunned transparency in the days leading up to the vote changing the date and refusing to publish the agenda of the meeting prior to. But we’d expect nothing less from a board backed by the teachers union, after all we’ve already seen this playbook in Jeffco.