Reaction To Supreme Court's School Voucher Decision - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Reaction To Supreme Court's School Voucher Decision

Reaction to Thursday's Supreme Court 5-4 decision sanctioning the use of school vouchers:

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"This landmark ruling is a victory for parents and children throughout America. By upholding the constitutionality of Cleveland's school choice program, the Supreme Court has offered the hope of an excellent education to parents and children throughout our country. This decision clears the way for other innovative school choice programs so that no child in America will be left behind." - President Bush.

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"The Supreme Court has taken a wrecking ball to the wall of separation between church and state. This is clearly the worst church-state decision in the past 50 years." - Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

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"The Supreme Court has wisely decided that giving students educational opportunities through school choice does not violate the First Amendment. I am pleased that children in Cleveland and beyond will have hope, opportunity and a better future." - Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Republican Conference.

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"Clearly a 5-4 decision removes the constitutional cloud over whether parents are indeed allowed to drive the education of their children, and with a Supreme Court sanction, states will enact more programs." - Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington pro-voucher group.

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"This is going to be a whole new thing for people around the country. The program was well done when they wrote it up to begin with. It gives people choice to spend their tax funds in a school where they can get a good education." - Lori Kaloger, mother of three daughters enrolled in a parochial school in Cleveland.

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"You are compelling people to support a religion." - Rev. Steve Behr, a Lutheran minister and a plaintiff in the case seeking to stop the program.

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"The Ohio Legislature crafted a brighter future for the students trapped in the Cleveland school system by providing scholarships for students to attend a participating public or private school of their families' choosing and tutorial assistance grants for students attending public school. This program will help make a brighter future possible for these and many other deserving students." - Attorney General John Ashcroft.

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"Private school vouchers may pass constitutional muster, but they fail the test when it comes to improving our nation's public schools. It's flat wrong to take scarce taxpayer dollars away from public schools and divert them to private schools. Despite the court's ruling, vouchers are still bad policy for public schools, and Congress must not abandon its opposition to them." - Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

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"This decision represents a serious crack in the constitutional wall between church and state, and it's especially troubling when part of that wall comes crumbling down on Cleveland's public school children. Cleveland and other urban school systems are in tough financial straits. Giving this voucher program a 'green light' only makes that situation worse." - Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation.

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"Vouchers, we don't believe, help public schools. It targets a significant amount of money and only helps a small number of students." - Andrea Bell, general counsel for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, who called the decision, "a bit of a blow."

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"Vouchers are bad education policy, and we will continue to fight efforts to introduce them into public education. Our nation's commitment to public education is longstanding, built upon the principle of open and equal access for all our children. This decision undercuts that principle and commitment." - Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

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"The court's decision is a victory not only for low-income parents and students, but for American education as well. It lays the groundwork for future progress on private school choice and moves us decisively forward in the drive for equal educational opportunity." - Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.

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"The National Education Association pledges to continue to fight for children and public education and oppose divisive and counterproductive proposals to divert energy, attention, and resources to private school tuition vouchers ... Just because vouchers may be legal in some circumstances doesnt make them a good idea." - Bob Chase, president of the National Education Association.

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"Today's historic Supreme Court decision is one for America's children. It's one that can transform the education landscape in our country. The decision lifts the constitutional cloud that has been hanging over school-choice programs for years and will open the doors of opportunity to thousands of children who need and deserve the best possible education." - Education Secretary Rod Paige.

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"PTA is extremely disappointed. This is just a step backwards in the support of public education for all children. It doesn't make sense that public funds can be used for private education. This situation, to be allowed to use vouchers to take money out of the public schools, certainly doesn't improve them, it abandons them." - Courtney Frick, state president of Ohio PTA.

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"This decision is a severe blow to public education and its already inadequate funding. It is disrespectful to the American taxpayer." - Vincent Ferrandino, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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