School Choice & Charters Federal File

Choice Location

By David J. Hoff — January 23, 2007 1 min read

Given the choice, an advocacy group for private school vouchers would rather be in Washington.

The Alliance for School Choice will move its headquarters from Phoenix to the nation’s capital and has hired a new president and added a lobbyist to represent the 3-year-old group in federal policy.

“It recognizes the growing role that the alliance plans to play in D.C.,” said Clint Bolick, who will leave his post as the group’s president amid the changes.

The alliance wants to be near Capitol Hill while Congress considers changes to the No Child Left Behind Act so it can promote its agenda of expanding parents’ options for transferring their children out of struggling schools. Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the law this year.

Next year, in a separate initiative, Congress is due to extend the private-school-voucher experiment for poor children in the District of Columbia, adopted in 2004, something that the Alliance for School Choice will make its top priority, Mr. Bolick said. But it may not be a priority for the new Democratic majority in Congress.

“We’re truly interested in the success and endurance of that program,” he added.

The alliance established its headquarters in Phoenix, where Mr. Bolick lives, when it hired him to start the group. The location worked well because Arizona is a hotbed for charter schools and other forms of educational choice, said Mr. Bolick, who spearheaded litigation that led to the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tuition vouchers for students in religious schools were constitutional. Mr. Bolick worked in Washington for the Institute for Justice at the time.

Once Mr. Bolick decided to return to his law practice—“personnel and administration are not my passions in life,” he said last week—the alliance found that the best prospects to lead the organization lived in Washington.

The group last week named Charles R. Hokanson Jr. as its president. A former House Republican aide, he is currently the chief of staff for the Department of Education’s general counsel’s office.

Mr. Bolick said the group also hired John Schilling, a former staff member of the Education Leaders Council, now called Follow the Leaders, as its chief lobbyist.

Mr. Bolick will stay in Phoenix, where he plans to return to litigating by launching the Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, a think tank.

A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week

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