02/1999 Parental Freedom in the States and Nation

02/1999 Parental Freedom in the States and Nation
February 1, 1999



Distinguished political science scholar Quentin L. Quade, director of Marquette’s Blum Center for Parental Freedom Education, died on January 19 at the age of 65. Author of over 100 articles and books in political science, Quade was one of the leading intellectual advocates for parental freedom in education. “He was the stuff of heroes and giants,” noted the Blum Center’s managing director, David Urbanski.


1998: A Very Good Year

The task of advancing parental freedom in education, and removing the educational finance monopoly (EFM), moved forward notably in 1998. In particular, four state developments will turn out to be vitally important for the sea change to come:

  • 1998 saw the Wisconsin Supreme Court draw together all pertinent state and federal legal precedents en route to declaring the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program entirely constitutional. Eight of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices saw no reason to review that judgment.
  • More governors who support expansion of parental freedom exist today than have ever existed. Education funding being essentially a state issue, that is a major success for school choice, especially when seen in conjunction with cooperative legislatures in many of those states.
  • Polls show the rising tide of broad-based, national and state, public support for school choice reached crescendo levels in 1998, meaning the yoke of social inertia is truly being lifted, and parents and voters are beginning to achieve clear vision as smoke screens are blown away.
  • African-American citizens, long supporters of parental freedom but long misrepresented by their alleged leadership groups, are increasingly breaking free from that misrepresentation. That should free some of the press to report more objectively the actual, parent-supporting, attitude of minority citizens.



Arkansas

Governor Mike Huckabee, who has shown support for school choice, was reelected with 60 percent of the vote.



California

A new Web site (www.localchoice.com) has been created by the backers of the LocalChoice 2000 initiative, designed to collect input from California citizens on the drafting of a school choice ballot initiative.



Georgia

Senator Paul Coverdell, author of the tax-free savings account proposal for K-12 education expenses that Congress approved this summer, was reelected with 52.2 percent of the vote.



Illinois

George Ryan won the seat of governor with 51.3 percent of the vote. Ryan announced that he would support a $500 tuition tax credit proposal for families who send their children to nonpublic schools.



Louisiana

Louisiana now represents not only the oldest but also the most limited school choice program in the United States: Since 1979, the state has provided a tax credit of $25 against income taxes for any and all education expenses incurred for each dependent child in any kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school.



Massachusetts

A group of parents with children in Catholic schools filed a lawsuit in a Boston federal court, claiming that the Massachusetts Constitution wrongfully denies them tuition aid. The suit alleges that the state's 1854 Anti-Aid Amendment, which disallows any public money from going to religious schools, violates the parents' rights under the First Amendment of the federal Constitution.



New Mexico

Governor Gary Johnson, a strong supporter of parental freedom in education, was reelected with 53.8 percent of the vote.



Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Ridge submitted a last-minute voucher proposal to the state legislature in November, but legislative leaders indicated that a vote would not be taken on it before the end of the year's final session. The plan would phase in over five years, and it would provide vouchers between $350 and $1,000 to low-income parents in certain counties. Ridge won reelection with 57.5 percent of the vote.



Texas

Governor George Bush was reelected with 68.5 percent of the vote in Texas. He supports a limited voucher plan for low-income students in failing schools. Also, the position of Lieutenant Governor, which carries significant weight in Texas, was won by Rick Perry, an ardent supporter of school choice, with 51 percent of the vote.