Cleveland Voucher Program

September 7, 1999

Imagine for a moment you are a single mother living below the poverty line in Cleveland, Ohio. You want to help your kids escape the inner city but unfortunately your kids go to a substandard public school. It seems hopeless. Then one day you are selected to receive a publicly funded voucher which you can use to send your child to a private, Christian school. You are excited. You enroll, you buy the school supplies, and you buy uniforms. Then just hours before school starts, a federal judge stops the program, and you are left scrambling to find any school that will take your child.

This is precisely what happened recently in Cleveland when a judge granted an injunction which shut down a pilot program for school vouchers. The ruling covered about 4,000 students whose parents were eager and anxious to place them in better schools.

The liberal judge (who by the way was appointed by President Clinton) ruled that school vouchers were an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Now keep in mind that back in May, the Ohio Supreme Court had already ruled that the program did not violate the First Amendment. Not only was his ruling at variance with the prior higher court ruling. It also put parents in a difficult situation and crushed their hopes of trying to better their childrens' lives.

I'm sad for the parents in Cleveland, but this may only be a minor setback. The injunction may be overturned, and a higher court (even the Supreme Court) may rule soon on the legality of school vouchers. Already successful programs are working in places ranging from Wisconsin to Florida. Despite this ruling, I predict that more school choice programs will be successfully implemented in the next few years.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.