“Good news for educational freedom!” Words that can light up my day, right up there with “Free Legos” and “of course, you can have another scoop of Superman ice cream.” (Sadly, too many kids are left Waiting for Superman… Okay, okay. Enough groaning already.) Specifically, the latest good news comes compliments of the “merry band of litigators” at the Institute for Justice:
Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court for Strafford County and saved the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. The program provides low-income families with education scholarships, which parents may use to send their children to a private school, a tuition-charging public school in a neighboring school district or to pay for homeschooling expenses. The plaintiffs were several state taxpayers who were philosophically opposed to the program. The court held that the plaintiffs lacked the necessary personal injury to challenge the program.
Go back about four months: remember all that cheering we did for New Hampshire kids to win their day in court? For whatever it was worth, I’d do it all over again just to see this one cross the finish line. As Cato’s Jason Bedrick points out, a 2013 survey of New Hampshire found almost 97 percent program satisfaction.
Scholarship tax credits are about private donor investments to non-profit organizations that give more kids opportunity to choose a school that best serves their needs and prepares them for their future. Today’s ruling didn’t directly dismantle the silly district court finding that tax credit funds equate to “money raised by taxation.” Instead, Granite State justices followed 2011 U.S. Supreme Court precedent that said plaintiff taxpayers lacked standing to bring that silly argument before the courts in the first place.
While a small roadblock in Alabama remains, the biggest legal setback to any of the 14 states’ existing scholarship tax credit programs has been undone. And that’s a huge boost for those who (like me) want the chance to see Colorado Kids Win. Our state still has more than 10,000 empty private school seats for many low- and middle-income families who are looking for extra financial support to get there. Why not fuel more private voluntary donations for scholarships, and save the state some money along the way?
What an elegant solution!
Meanwhile, do you believe in coincidences? (I don’t.) On the very same day as the New Hampshire Supreme Court delivers good news, a slew of groups in the Edublob filed suit to shut down Florida’s 13-year-old scholarship tax credit program. What, are they nuts? Are they hoping to displace 67,000 low-income students from their chosen learning environments?
I guess the moral of this story is never underestimate the capacity of some people and groups to hire lawyers and take out their frustrations on poor kids. When Colorado someday soon joins the scholarship tax credit club, we probably can expect to be sued, too. However, my smile only grows wider as each new case shows how such a lawsuit is very likely to fail.