January 28, 2012
STEPHEN HOPKINS CENTER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS DECLARES 2011 A BANNER YEAR FOR SCHOOL CHOICE, URGES RHODE ISLAND TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE SCHOOL CHOICE.
Providence, RI - -The Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights, Rhode Island's leading free market and civil rights litigation center, joined this week with over 250 other organizations nationally and here in Rhode Island to mark National School Choice Week and urge continued recognition and expansion of the right of parents to choose the best education for their children. "2011 was a banner year for the recognition and expansion of a parent's constitutional right to school choice, and 2012 is shaping up to be just as good." Said Attorney Matthew L. Fabisch, President and General Counsel of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights.
"While there has been great progress nationally, Rhode Island still has a lot of work to do to ensure all families have the choice to decide what schools will best suit their child." Nationally the number of children served by voucher and tax credit scholarship programs last year expanded to 190,194 but Rhode Island accounted for only 460 of those students. Just this month, the Rhode Island Senate passed a resolution (#2064) proclaiming January 22 -28 as "School Choice Week" and noting that "[r]esearch in Rhode Island and across our nation demonstrates conclusively that providing children with multiple schooling options improves academic performance. . ." The resolution also expresses the Senate's conviction that "[t]he vital cause of education reform is one that transcends ideology and political party affiliation" and that "[c]itizens across Rhode Island agree that improving the quality of education and expanding access to highly effective schools should be an issue of importance to our state’s leaders."
"Last year seven states enacted new school choice programs, nine existing school choice programs expanded, and the Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was restored. Yet, perhaps the most important victory for children, was that the United States Supreme Court refused to allow a frivolous establishment clause challenge to the the constitutionality of the Arizona Individual Scholarship Tax Credit thereby upholding the law and guaranteeing that the right of more than 27,000 parents to choose the best school for their child would be protected." Fabisch continued "this year, we are poised to make additional gains for school choice as the state supreme courts apply the precedents established by the United States Supreme Court. Indeed, just last week an Indiana Superior Court judge dismissed all legal challenges to the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, one of the new school choice programs signed into law during 2011."
Pointing to the Senate resolution and a new focus on educational achievement and school choice by Rhode Island think-tank the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Fabisch said his organization is optimistic about the future of school choice in Rhode Island. "Initiatives like the Bright Today Scholarship Program, a special needs voucher program, proposed this week by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, or an expansion of the Rhode Island Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit to include special needs and other students will empower our state's most vulnerable children and their families to escape the soft tyranny of low expectations and find a suitable educational environment where they can achieve. As the state makes progress, the Stephen Hopkins Center will be there to ensure the rights of these parents, families and students to choose the school that is best for them are protected in court."
The mission of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights is to protect the rights that Americans recognize as fundamental. The center litigates in such areas as fiscal responsibility and transparency, school choice, free speech, and property rights to assist individuals the government has harmed, and ensure all Rhode Islanders are able to enjoy their constitutional rights.
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Contact Matthew Fabisch, Esq. at 401-324-9344 or Info@HopkinsCenter.org.