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City of Jersey City

BretSchundler
Mayor
Office of the Mayor
June 11, 1998

Schundler Praises Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision

Sees Ruling As Favorable To School Choice Movement

Jersey City
Earlier today, Mayor Bret Schundler enthusiastically expressed his support of yesterday's Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Jackson v. Benson, which upheld Milwaukee's voucher plan for both public and parochial school students.

The Wisconsin voucher plan, referred to as the expanded Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, allows up to 15,000 low-income children to use their State education funds in private or religious schools. Opponents of the plan challenged it as a violation of the religious establishment provisions of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected those claims by a 4-2 vote.

"There is no question that all parents have a right to place their children in the best schools possible. The Wisconsin Supreme Court decision ensures that more parents will be able to act on that right. Furthermore, it provides momentum for the school choice movement in New Jersey. Perhaps by using the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision as a catalyst, we can finally make true school choice a reality for the many economically disadvantaged students in our area," Schundler said.

Mayor Schundler has pushed for the passage of State legislation that would enact a series of education reforms throughout New Jersey, including: public school choice, the establishment of charter schools, and the provision of tuition assistance, in the form of a voucher, to parents who choose to send their children to secular and religious private schools.

"It is time that parents be given control over where their children go to school. Financial constraints should not force parents to send their children to public schools, especially if parents are not pleased with the educational services provided there," Schundler said.

The Becket Fund, a bi-partisan and ecumenical public interest law firm which aims to protect the free expression of all religious traditions, echoed the Mayor's praise of the Wisconsin decision.

President and General Counsel of The Becket Fund, Kevin J. Hasson, calls the Wisconsin decision doubly good:

"The ruling is good because parochial school kids and their parents are no longer second class citizens. It is even better because it recognizes that people of faith do not need to be quarantined from public life generally. This decision will go a long way toward restoring common sense to the law of Church and State," Hasson said.

For more information about The Becket Fund, please call (202) 955-0095 or see the Fund's website at www.becketfund.org.

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