Zelman V. Simmons-Harris

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The case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris is a landmark case that dealt with vouches for schooling and the 1st Amendment. The case was officially decided upon on June 27, 2002, but the case and history dates back to 1995. In 1995, the Ohio Legislature passed into law the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program as part of the 1995 budget act. The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program was a pilot program that gave families up $2,250 to support their children’s academics. Aid was given to parents according to financial need, and where the aid was spent depended upon where parents chose to enroll their children. Parents were able to opt out of the public school system with this money if they were a part of a failing school district. It allowed parents to choose the school that their children would attend. (Bodwell, 2003) At this time in the United States there was a national movement for allowing school choice and a push for the availability of vouchers. The many who supported this movement were both conservative and mainstream politicians, independent school administrations, religious leaders, and African American who live in urban areas. Those who opposed school choice included: teachers unions, public school administration, and white suburban citizens who were happy with their public schools. It was also during this time that a push for additional options be available within the public schools. These options included advanced classes and charter schools. (Peterson, 2003)

The establishment of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program was modeled after a similar program in Milwaukee that was created a few years earlier. What made Cleveland’s program stand apart from Milwaukee’s and other voucher programs was that it allowed religious affiliated schools to participate in the schooling program. The main reason for the establishment of these programs was to respond to the failure of many public schools, in Cleveland particularly in its poor in city center....
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