After the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in March that a voucher program allowing 473 foster and special-needs children to attended private school – some for two years – was unconstitutional, Gov. Jan Brewer said she was “heartbroken.”
Unlike her predecessor, former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who opposed the voucher program, Brewer called a special session in May so that a bill creating tax credits credits could be passed immediately and monies available to parents at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.
A strong Blaine amendment affected the legal standing of vouchers but not tax credits in Arizona. Kentucky also has a restrictive Blaine amendment. Arizona’s new tax-credit law will accomplish the same thing the vouchers were, and greatly reduces – based on past court rulings – the chance that school-choice opponents could succeed in stopping alternative for children.
Perhaps this gives clues to how Kentucky should proceed with a policy to provide a private education to our state’s neediest children.
Gov. Brewer’s courage in Arizona also offers hints to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear about the impact gubernatorial leadership can have in improving the education of special-needs and foster children.