The nation’s high court this week heard oral arguments in the case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. NEA and TSTA believe this case is a thinly veiled attempt, supported by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her allies, to expand school privatization across the country. It could undermine constitutional provisions in 37 states that prevent tax money from flowing to private religious schools.
The Espinoza case involves a tax credit for private school tuition that the Montana legislature enacted in 2015. Because it allowed families to use tax credit funds to pay for tuition at religious schools, Montana’s highest court ruled that the program violated the Montana constitution’s ban on state aid to a religious organization and struck down the program in its entirety. Plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A decision is expected sometime in June. A victory for the plaintiffs would create a legal path for the expansion of voucher programs, further draining already scarce resources from the neighborhood public schools that serve the vast majority of U.S. students. NEA filed an amicus brief arguing that the case lacks legal merit and should be thrown out entirely.
“This case is an affront to our Constitution and has nothing to do with improving education for our children or protecting religious freedom,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.