Arizona Court Strikes Voucher Program

Last Updated: May 05, 2009

This article appeared in the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld an appellate court decision striking down two private school voucher programs as unconstitutional. The challenge to the state’s school voucher programs was filed by a parent and two advocacy organizations, and was supported by the Arizona Rural Schools Association, among other statewide education groups.
The programs, created in 2006, provided state tax voucher checks for students who were receiving special education services and for students who had been in foster care. Parents then signed the checks over to private schools for tuition. The issue for the court’s consideration was whether the money aided the private schools  — prohibited in the Arizona Constitution  — or the students and families. The Arizona high court called the programs a “well-intentioned effort” but ruled them illegal.
Arizona has long been a test state for voucher program proponents. A law allowing tax credit for donations to private school scholarship programs was recently found to be constitutional and is not affected by this ruling.
Read more:
News coverage of the voucher ruling:
The state court’s voucher opinion:
Read more from the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.