Supreme Court Decision in Education Case Imminent

Supreme Court Decision in Education Case Imminent

Blaine Amendments and Rights of Families to Direct Their Children’s Education at Issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A decision in the case Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue is expected within the next 30 days and could fundamentally alter education governance in the US. At issue is the constitutionality of Montana’s Blaine Amendment, one of 37, that was enacted explicitly to discriminate against Catholics in the 1800s, in favor of protestant-influenced public schools.  The effect is that states that wish to enact scholarship programs to help parents pay for non-public schools are often held unconstitutional citing Blaine amendments. The discriminatory history of “Blaine Amendments,” which was fiercely debated and acknowledged at oral arguments which took place on January 22, 2020, highlights the case’s potentially extraordinary ramifications nationwide for parent rights’ and their ability to secure the best education possible for them.

The Center for Education Reform (CER), joined by 16 other groups, filed an amicus brief, authored by Kirkland and Ellis partner and former Solicitor General Paul Clement, citing numerous court precedents that should compel the High Court to overturn Montana’s decision against the parents who filed suit to retain a scholarship program that the Montana legislature had enacted to support education opportunity. As he argues:

“…parents—not the government—have both the fundamental right and the high calling to direct the education and upbringing of their children…Denying parents the ability to send their children to a desired school simply because that school is religiously affiliated directly implicates First Amendment concerns…The Free Exercise Clause “‘protect[s] religious observers against unequal treatment’ and subjects to the strictest scrutiny laws that target the religious for ‘special disabilities’ based on their ‘religious status.’” 

With the Supreme Court not able to hear oral arguments in other cases, the decision may very well be decided before the expected date in June. If the Court rules for Kendra Espinoza and against Montana’s Blaine amendment, and if it is a broad enough decision that it would apply to other Blaine amendments around the country, the result could be dramatic for expanding education opportunity. Countless American students will be given new opportunities to obtain and continue a quality education. Thousands on both sides of the issue are waiting eagerly for a decision.

If you are interested in discussing education, the case or Blaine Amendments please contact CER at or @edreform on Twitter.


 * * For more information about Espinoza v. Montana and the significant history of the “Blaine Amendment,” visit CER’s BLAINE INFORMATION HQ or peruse “The Problem With The Blaine Amendment”  by CER Founder & CEO Jeanne Allen (The Huffington Post, August 2017) * * 

Newswire – May 26, 2020


BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY SLIPS OUT OF MEMORY, let’s be sure to remember what it is all about — the cost paid by our fellow Americans to insure that we all had a precious commodity, one they thought worth dying for — freedom.

“WHY AMERICA”? Teaching love of country isn’t just for patriotic holidays.  Now’s a good time to share new resources with the kids in your home or who you are teaching remotely. Easy to use course outlines and material that make teaching American history a snap can be found here on Why America? at

SCHOOL DAZE. The biggest ed story out there daily it seems is reopening schools. As Wall Street Journal’s Tawnell Hobbs reports, “Students wearing masks, eating lunch in classrooms and attending school in person only two days a week are among the scenarios being looked at in school districts throughout the U.S. planning to reopen in the fall…Children who are academically behind or without internet access would get preference for in-person learning under some proposals. Other plans prohibit sharing school supplies and desks closer than six feet apart, and limit parents and other visitors on campuses.”Whatever your own community or schools’ solutions, it’s clear that options are essential.And when schools do reopen, who will be there? “About 20% of teachers say they don’t intend to return in the fall. And about 30% of parents say they’re very likely to continue at-home learning,” according to a new poll from USA Today.

SILVER EDUCATION LININGS. Yes, the virus has been a tragedy for the country. But behind the Covid cloud, the everyday, real life experiences of millions of Americans during the “lockdown” have opened eyes and shown the many possibilities that come with new education responsibilities…  Reporting for the New York Times, Elizabeth Harris says “one unexpected silver lining of the shutdown has been an improved learning experience for certain students, including some who struggle to pay attention in class and even some high-achieving self-starters.” Where ‘remote learning’ was a foreign concept to most parents it is now catching on

YET SOME ARE ATTACKING REMOTE ED…. And also likening it to homeschooling, where parents drive when and what their children are taught. A Harvard prof said home schooling maximizes potential for child abuse. But he and others like him were summarily rebuked and many are now becoming convinced of the value. According to John Stossel, “‘Home-schoolers score 30% higher on SAT tests.’ They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.”

LEARNING CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE. Love this idea from an educators technology group (h/t to Real Clear Education) to take a tour of the world using google maps!

BLACK & BROWN v BIDEN?  “The votes of black and brown charter school parents matter. Ignore us at your own peril.” The bold and unwavering Dr. Howard Fuller cautions Vice President Joe Biden about the loss of votes he’ll encounter if he continues to toe the union line rather than what’s good for children.  As we all agree, giving parents power and ensuring all have access to education excellence for America’s kids are way too important to become just another political piñata. 

In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration or “Decoration Day” for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War. It is to be designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…” 

Throughout the years a number of changes have been enacted to this federal holiday, a shift from May 30 to the last Monday of the month to allow for a three day weekend, the name Memorial Day being officially adopted, and since 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

No matter the official name or date, it’s of paramount importance we celebrate Memorial Day.  Millions have given their lives on the fields of battle to make it possible for us to enjoy the “blessings of liberty.”

It is those individuals who gave what President Lincoln called, “the last full measure of devotion…to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Pause with us to remember and reflect on the sacrifice made by these brave individuals and understand that even in the midst of today’s challenges, it pales in comparison to offering one’s life for something greater.

Enjoy your Memorial Day week.

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education. We’re always delighted to hear from our readers…suggestions, questions and even the occasional complaint!

Educational Choice Advocacy Alert to Parents, Clergy and Educators

EdChoice on Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue


The Alliance for Choice in Education Files Supreme Court Brief

Agudath Israel Files Supreme Court Brief

Why America Event 5 – Teacher Resource Guide

Newswire – May 19, 2020

EDUCATION’S BERLIN WALL. When the Berlin Wall fell and East Germans experienced freedom for the first time — there was no going back.  With an assist from COVID19, and despite the overwhelming tragedies and seeming irreversible impact it has created, the walls confining students to education based on zip code has also fallen. Millions of parents and kids are learning for the first time the capacity of their schools’ administrators to respond to crises. As we’ve written in the pathbreaking report, “The Future of School” released last month, this experience is an opportunity to determine how best to educate every child, no matter where, or what their circumstances. Whether the approach taking place is called distance, digital, remote or whatever, it doesn’t matter.  The smell of innovation and creativity unbridled by bureaucracy is in the air. The anecdotal stories of parents, school leaders and citizens city by city shows that 40 percent of Americans now more likely to homeschool and enroll kids in virtual school, when given the choice. Ah, but there’s the rub.

Organizing tele-townhalls, and pro-status quo virtual marches, the NEA is spending all of its time and money advocating for more stimulus funds to plug the gaping hole of the empty school buildings and bureaucracies, to preserve what exists, not build what should.

GOVERNORS YOU CAN CHANGE THAT. There is $3 billion on the table to support students and the people working to support them. Those monies are directed to districts/LEAs (eg. many charter schools, too) to address the learning needs of students. In our not-so-humble opinions, those funds should not be distributed to districts which are not requiring teachers to actually teach students in real time (like LA and Philly, among others).  Governors can ensure that not only are funds spent in the service of students, but that the 10% of discretionary funds the state education departments are permitted to distribute as they see fit actually expand the reach of schools and leaders educating kids well.

We will have more to say on that soon, but also agree with former Governor Jeb Bush who urges the chief executives to use the money for transformational ideas  — what he calls “long runway ideas” — instead of the usual short-term fixes.

THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.  Schools which embraced remote learning and adapted to it long ago out of necessity had a huge advantage when the virus struck. Alaska and Maine are about as far apart geographically as two states can be.  But they are leaders in using distance learning for their kids.  In Homer, Alaska one of America’s most remote states is making remote learning work, and from Maine comes the news that as of now all Maine students will have access to remote learning.  The walls are falling — there’s no going back.

BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE! In between Alaska and Maine you’ll find The Neighborhood Academyin Pittsburgh, PA which serves a student body disproportionately low income and economically disadvantaged yet made a seamless transition to learning, and from Michigan a new university study of how the state’s 78 charter schools are not missing a beat in adapting to distance learning, finding that 87 percent of the charters are providing hybrid modes of instruction with students receiving lessons through virtual platforms and hard copy materials. One of the report’s authors said, “This report is really a statement about the resilience of educators and their ability to pivot and respond to their student’s needs in innovative and different ways.” Charters have been doing that since 1992.

A BAND AID OR A LONG TERM CURE? THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON LEGALIZED BIGOTRY. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, one of the most monumental education and civil rights cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, must be decided by June 30 – 42 days from now. CER is proud to be part of a broad coalition in support of the plaintiffs and to have filed an Amicus Brief in the case.  The link above will take you to our page with full background and explanations of this remnant of 19th century bigotry.

CBS 58 MilwaukeeYOUR GUARANTEED SMILE FOR THE DAY - OR WEEK comes from Milwaukee, WI, the birthplace of the charter school movement.  Two twin sisters — seniors named for CER fave and true education superman, the  Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy - have been accepted into 38 schools and awarded over $1,000,000 in scholarships.  Sisters, Arielle and Arianna Williams came up with what we think is the perfect motto for ALL charter schools, “We never wanted to do the basic, we always wanted to go above and do beyond.” Super kudos to Arielle and Arianna, to Dr. Fuller and every charter school in the country.


Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education. 
We’re always delighted to hear from our readers...suggestions, questions and even the occasional complaint!



CER will convene three prestigious education leaders who are helping drive local, state and federal responses to continuous education post Covid-19. 

WHO:          New Orleans Education Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr., School Board chair Ethan Ashley, and former DC City Council Chair, author and now K-12 president Kevin Chavous

Moderated by Jeanne Allen, Founder & CEO, Center for Education Reform 

WHAT:         Virtual Convening, with audience Q&A

WHEN:        Tuesday, May 19th 11a - 12:30p EDT

RSVP here or call 202-750-0016 with questions.


Watch the videos from past sessions of the CER ACTION Series, featuring school leaders, teachers, EdTech innovators, and philanthropists here. Review our Education Report, THE FUTURE OF SCHOOL (5 min read) and visit our extensive database of resources for parents and educators here.

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education.