The WaPo ed board picks up on this blog post about the SCOTUS Forest Grove School District v. TA case in an editorial today.  My point in the post was basically two-fold.   First, there is more involvement between public funds and private schools than you’d know from all the rhetoric in the voucher debate.   Second, in terms of this specific court case, this is one of those instances where lousy behavior by a public agency shouldn’t lead to a counterproductive policy outcome.   School districts can be bad actors on special education due process but a unilateral right for parents to place students in private schools at public expense is an extremely problematic (and likely costly) policy.

On the first point, Sherman Dorn disagreed at the time.   I don’t buy his objection though.  When you consider the sum public sector – private sector financial involvement (for instance equitable service provisions for federal education programs, various kinds of state support, several voucher programs around the country, a SCOTUS ruling in Zelman embracing a non-preferential stance toward religion and education by saying that public vouchers for parochial schools are constitutional as long as parents have a choice, a lot of support for private tuition in the wake of Katrina…) you see a lot of involvement.  The term “entanglement” is a bit loaded because it carries a specific connotation in this context stemming from a landmark church – state case and perhaps I should have used a different term.   Nonetheless, the lines here are increasingly blurry.

In fact, one could argue that events of the last four decades, and especially events since the early 1990s have rendered the child benefit theory obsolete.   Perhaps it’s time for a more contemporaneous definition that openly acknowledges there is a school benefit here but allows for greater accountability and transparency to follow public dollars and creates new delineations between school types.   Fordham Foundation has one idea  — a sliding scale — on that

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