School Choice & Charters

Scholarship Boon at Risk in Arizona

By The Associated Press — October 26, 2009 1 min read

A groundbreaking Arizona program providing tax breaks for donations for private school scholarships has been dealt another setback, as a federal appeals court let stand a ruling that revives a constitutional challenge.

According to an order released Oct. 21, a majority of participating judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit declined to have a larger panel review a unanimous April ruling that the decade-old and first-in-the-nation program could be unconstitutional by favoring religion.

A dissent listed eight judges voting to have an “en banc” review, but the order did not specify how many judges were in the majority. Nor did the court clerk’s office immediately return a call for comment on how many of the court’s 27 active judges voted.

The Arizona ruling, in the case of Winn v. Garriott, comes as, across the country, such tax-credit-supported scholarships are seen as fast outpacing vouchers as a state policy tool for promoting private school choice. (“Growth of ‘Neovouchers’ Sparks Debate Over Policies,” Jan. 7, 2009.)

At least seven states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—have such tax-credit programs, for individuals, corporations, or both, according to research conducted by Arizona legislative aides.

Arizona’s 1997 law provides dollar-for-dollar breaks on state income taxes for donations to school tuition organizations.

Supporters of the law contend it gives Arizona students a wide range of education options.

Challengers argue that the law has had the practical effect of channeling a disproportionate amount of donations to sectarian scholarship groups, which funnel grants to students attending religious schools.

The Arizona Supreme Court in 1999 upheld the constitutionality of the law. The current case concerns how it is being implemented.

A lawyer for supporters of the program, Tim Keller of the Institute for Justice, said the dissent made a strong case for [U.S.] Supreme Court review.

A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 2009 edition of Education Week as Scholarship Boon at Risk in Arizona


Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor Are NOLA Charters a Mixed Bag?
To the Editor:
The opinion essay by Douglas N. Harris about how New Orleans’ education reforms post-Katrina are relevant to the COVID-19 era (“As Schools Recover After COVID-19, Look to New Orleans,” Sept. 30, 2020) highlights some basic improvements in the NOLA system but downplays the most significant aspects of those changes: the impact on people of color.
1 min read
School Choice & Charters Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
The shift could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.
10Homeschool IMG
School Choice & Charters Opinion Challenging 3 Common Critiques of School Choice
A new volume from Corey DeAngelis and Neal McCluskey challenges some of the familiar but suspect assertions that pepper public debates about school choice.
3 min read
School Choice & Charters Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read