Not Everyone Wants Families to Choose Their Child’s Education
People who think they know better than parents often seek to challenge programs aimed at empowering families. When West Virginia passed the Hope Scholarship, it was lauded by supporters as an opportunity to help invest in children who need help.
Since the Hope Scholarship began receiving applications on March 1, 2022, the Hope Scholarship Board has approved nearly 2,000 students for the program. West Virginia parents see the Hope Scholarship as a way to change their children’s futures by choosing educations that better fit their needs. Unfortunately, special interest groups and out-of-state lawyers threaten to undermine these families by filing a lawsuit against the program.
Lawsuit Filed Against the Hope Scholarship
It is imperative that families know and understand who is behind the lawsuit against this program. This frivolous attempt to undermine West Virginia families was started when an initial intent to sue was filed by Mountain State Justice in September of 2021. Mountain State Justice is a West Virginia Law firm that engages in legal advocacy. Since September, no action has been taken by Mountain State Justice to further pursue that lawsuit. Currently, Public Funds Public Schools is spearheading legal action against the Hope Scholarship. We do not know what will happen with the Mountain State lawsuit. However, we will continue to keep families updated as events unfold.
Who is Behind the Lawsuit?
Public Funds Public Schools is a campaign that opposes education choice programs like the Hope Scholarship. The campaign consists of three well-known law firms – The Education Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and SPLC Action – and one high profile attorney – Tamerlin Godley, Esq. The organization has its mailing address listed as Newark, NJ. There isn’t much public information about the leadership structure of the campaign. Their website only lists Jessica Levin, a senior attorney with the Education Law Center, as its Executive Director.
Public Funds Public Schools has advocated against countless school choice programs across the country. Despite not understanding the difference between a voucher and an ESA, they declared, of West Virginia’s program, that “If the voucher program is implemented, massive amounts of public funds will be siphoned away from public schools, reducing district budgets and disrupting basic programs and services essential to a constitutionally adequate education,” In addition to their challenge to Hope, they have also challenged Pandemic Funding for Private Schools and Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts.
Public Funds Public Schools are suing because of the Hope Scholarship’s funding mechanism. It frees the state’s portion of the per-pupil which averages to $4,624.29 per student to follow a child to whatever educational environment best suits their individual needs. This small amount comes out of the total per pupil funding which is currently $13,365, according to the U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Common Core of Data (CCD). Economists show that this will not harm the public school system. Yet, despite this evidence, these out of state groups still want to limit parents’ ability to educate their children.
There is Still Hope
Despite Public Funds Public Schools desire to harm West Virginia students, families are standing up for the Hope Scholarship. West Virginia parents are sharing their stories because they understand that the Hope Scholarship will help improve the quality of Education in West Virginia. I encourage you to learn about the Hope Scholarship by clicking here.
Andrew Bambrick is the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.