July 29, 2020
By Matt Beienburg and Timothy Sandefur

Teachers unions and their allies have spent the summer waging a war for their own special interests—from demanding the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars of new taxpayer funding to calling for caps on charter schools and even the defunding of police departments. Some, including the United Teachers Los Angeles union, have even demanded a complete moratorium on private schools.

Now, teachers unions are suing to keep the same aid that they have called vital for their own health and safety out of the hands of their fellow educators.

In question is a portion of the roughly $15 billion that Congress authorized for K-12 education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That law explicitly requires the “equitable” distribution of these funds to serve both private and public school communities, but ideologically driven teachers unions that oppose the very existence of private educational choices for parents insist that that money should not go to private schools as the law requires.

These arguments not only rest on poor legal reasoning, but would further exacerbate the preferential treatment that government-run schools already enjoy in the marketplace of education. Indeed, while these schools receive automatic taxpayer funding—and in states like Arizona, are be guaranteed a minimum of 98% of their usual funding next year regardless of how many students they actually enroll—more than 100 private schools around the country have already been forced to permanently close their doors due to COVID-caused economic pressures.

That’s why the Goldwater Institute has joined with our friends at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) to stand on the side of true equity for students, parents, and educators. We’ve joined with WILL to file an amicus brief in support of the Department of Education’s attempt to ensure the equitable treatment of private school students and teachers that the law requires.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos deserves credit for seeking to ensure that COVID relief funds reach all students, and the rules her department has issued to ensure that outcome must be upheld. You can read the brief here. 

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy and Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.

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