Good News and Bad News for Poor Kids


Hey poor kids. I've got good news and I've got bad news. Which do you want first?

Good news first? OK.

In Arizona today, an appeals court upheld the constitutionality of a program in which corporations give money to create scholarships to help public school kids enroll in private schools. The companies get tax credits for their giving, and 1,947 kids get a private school education.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program for years, on the grounds that some of the scholarship money finds its way into the hands of religious schools. On the other side, the always-valuable Institute for Justice.

And now for the bad news.

In D.C., 1,900 poor kids will be pulled out of the private schools they have been attending as part of a federally-funded scholarship program when the Democratic Congress allows the program to expire next year, something it signaled its intent to do this week. (Murmurs from Obama's press secretary suggests that there may be a small compromise in the works for kids already enrolled in private schools. But such a deal will be cold comfort but to the thousands of kids who applied for scholarships and didn't get them, not to mention all the kids who have yet to enroll in D.C. schools.)

Just as with the Arizona program, the D.C. scholarship program subtracts no money from the public school budget, which means that the public schools are actually winding up with more money per kid when some kids leave the system. But that hasn't stopped critics like Sen. Ted Kennedy's office from falsely claiming that the program "takes funds from very needy public schools to send students to unaccountable private schools."

When those Arizona private school kids take a school trip to D.C.—you know, the kind of trip that private schools take their kids on—maybe they can stop in and visit their D.C. counterparts in their decaying public schools, just to say hello.