The school-voucher movement is under assault, as opponents have cut federal funding and states move to impose new restrictions on a form of school choice that has been a cornerstone of the conservative agenda for education overhaul.
Vouchers — which give students public money to pay private-school tuition — have grown since a 2002 Supreme Court decision upheld their use in religious schools. About 61,700 students use them in the current school year, up 9% from last year, according to the Alliance for School Choice, a voucher advocate.
But earlier this month, Congress voted to stop funding a voucher program for the District of Columbia. Two other prominent voucher programs — in Milwaukee and Cleveland — are facing statehouse efforts to impose rules that could prompt some private schools to stop taking voucher students.
Pressure is mounting from other corners as well. President Barack Obama has said he opposes vouchers, and the stimulus bill he signed in February bars its funds from being used to provide financial aid to students attending private schools. On Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that two state voucher programs, benefiting foster children and disabled students, violated Arizona’s state constitution.