December 22, 2022

Linda Blackford: Leaving no wiggle room, Ky. Supreme Court trips up GOP march to destroy public schools

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Writing for the Lexington Herald Leader, Linda Blackford applauds the recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision eliminating the state’s new voucher plan.

They ruled unanimously that the Education Opportunity Account Act — which allows people to get tax credits for donating to organizations that then give scholarships to private schools — was completely unconstitutional. No wiggle room at all. The reason as Justice Lisabeth Hughes wrote is simple: “Applying the plain language of this section, the income tax credit raises money for nonpublic education and its characterization as a tax credit rather than an appropriation is immaterial,” Hughes wrote. Because the Kentucky Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the Kentucky Constitution, this idea to divert funding from public schools to private ones is now quite dead and cannot be appealed.

‘It was pretty straightforward, they took a very textual approach and relied on some past precedents, they go back almost 100 years,” said University of Kentucky professor Jonathan Shaub. “They wrote it in a very black and white principle that taxpayer money has to go to public schools and we’re not going to buy into these tricks or workarounds.” The framers of our state Constitution were pretty prescient, writing in not only the rights to an “efficient” system of public education, but protections against funding diversions.

Blackford is mincing now words here.

Now, I’m sure the eager souls at Cato and Heritage and all Betsy DeVos’s other buddies are busy coming up with new ways to defund and therefore destroy public education. That’s what this is all about. Conservatives have long hated public education, which they see as godless, labor-loving brainwashing institutions that indoctrinate children with concepts like communism and evolution. Please don’t scream at me about Jefferson County, where the dismal performance of segregated schools gave private school advocates an opening. Please. Most of those private schools opened to get away from Black people after the Brown v. Board decision, so don’t cry your crocodile tears about how you want to help West Enders. Yes, reform is needed there. But giving rich people tax credits that take away from public coffers to help mostly middle class people prop up private schools is not the answer.

Read the full op-ed here. 

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