Colorado Rights Blog

Delana Maynes By: Delana Maynes 2.7.2018

The Latest Scheme to Force Colorado Taxpayers to Pay for Private, Religious Schools

The ACLU of Colorado opposes and our state constitution bans the funneling of public school money to private, religious schools. We have fought private school vouchers in Colorado, most recently when the Douglas County School Board tried for years to implement the “Choice Scholarship Program,” a scheme that would have granted a select few parents a voucher to pay some of the tuition that was needed to send their kids to exclusive private schools, almost all of which were religious. The program was rejected by the State Supreme Court and became so unpopular with Douglas County voters that, last November, they elected a new school board that ran on a promise to disband it.

As the Douglas County election showed, school vouchers are becoming increasingly unpopular as voters learn more about them and the harm they do to kids in public schools. So, their proponents are now trying to rebrand them. Their latest scheme is called “Education Income Tax Credits for Nonpublic School” aka Senate Bill 18-083, which is now moving through the state legislature.  

But a voucher by any other name is still a voucher if it subsidizes private school tuition with taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 18-083 “establishes a private school tuition income tax credit…that allows any taxpayer to claim a credit when the taxpayer enrolls a qualified child in a private school or the taxpayer provides a scholarship to a qualified child for enrollment in a private school.” 

Sound familiar? Education experts call them neo-vouchers and back-door vouchers, but it is the same private school voucher program that the Colorado Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional and that voters in Douglas County overwhelmingly rejected, only SB 18-083 would spread it statewide.

Just like the Douglas County voucher scheme, tuition tax credits would be used to fund schools that require religious tests, oaths, and teach a single religious point of view. Schools that would benefit from this legislation are not held to the same standards as public schools. They can reject children with physical and developmental disabilities and discriminate against children who already struggle with being treated differently.  

As a parent of two public school students in Douglas County, I helped fight the voucher program from the start because vouchers defund public schools and threaten a student’s right to a fair, appropriate and equitable public education.  I have watched as funding has dwindled in our public schools leading to a loss of programming and high quality teachers fleeing the profession.  School vouchers in any form, whether they be tax credits, education savings accounts or the type of program voters rejected in Douglas County, take money from a system that is starving.  The vast majority of parents in Colorado choose a high quality public education for their children.  Tax credits harm that choice.

Parents are free to send their kids to private, religious schools if they wish, but Colorado taxpayers should not be forced to pay for it. This latest tax credit scheme forces us all to pay for private, religious schools across the state, and the legislature should reject it.

Tweets

Videos

  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: acluco.org/redemption. Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people.