The Country Reacts to Cleveland Ruling

Published October 1, 1999

“Finally, I have a chance to give my children hope of succeeding in the school system and they try to take it away.”
Roberta Kitchen
guardian of five children
Associated Press

“[W]hat is finally compelling about the images we now see in Cleveland is the sense that we have been here before: Black children and their families walking to a new school in the teeth of opposition from narrow-minded authorities. The enemy may not be Jim Crow, but the choice revolution today is picking up some of the momentum that propelled the fight against officially mandated school segregation. This time what the children want is a real education, and may they overcome.”
Wall Street Journal

“This is an act of desperation by people who are on the wrong side of history. Vouchers and other forms of school choice are spreading from coast to coast as parents rightfully demand a say in what schools their children attend. Judge Oliver can no more stop this train than King Canute could order the tides to recede.”
Charles Byrne
member of Ohio’s elected state board of education

“By waiting until the last possible second to yank 4,000 voucher-supported kids out of private school and in essence order them to be deported back to the educational Third World, Oliver betrayed the desperation of school-choice opponents. All they have left is the argument that school choice is unconstitutional because it amounts to state support of religion. Sure, it’s nonsense, but that’s all there is.

“They can’t argue school quality. They can’t argue educational results. They can’t argue student safety. Not if they want to win. . . .”
Kevin O’Brien
columnist, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This case is not about the state imposing religion. This is about parents having the right to choose an appropriate school for their children. . . . [The ruling is a] judicial overreach with serious casualties__Cleveland’s disadvantaged children.”
Texas Governor George W. Bush
Associated Press

An “offensive” example of “judicial activism run amok.”
GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes
Associated Press

“This decision is reminiscent of the Dred Scott decision that returned an escaped slave into bondage. And as long as there is ONE CHILD forced to attend a school other than their school of choice–we will protest this outrageous ruling.”
Vernon Robinson
Executive Director
Carolina Educational Opportunity Fund

“Children should not be pawns while adults battle. No matter where they go to school, their opportunity to study should not be given or yanked away at any stage of the legal journey.

“Halting the program at this preliminary level of litigation . . . is wrong under any circumstances. Doing so the day before school opens is an act of arrogance, carelessness, and utter disregard for the needs of children across the city.

“Oliver’s leanings against the program were obvious at a hearing 10 days ago. . . . Handling the matter as he has makes the judge appear downright spiteful.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Put away your champagne bottles, Cleveland school-voucher opponents, and see what you have ‘won.’ Perhaps the Ohio Education Association, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way–who filed suit to challenge the scholarship program–could explain why [children] should have to return to a government school system that was unable to pass a single one of the state academic requirements for this past school year.

“School choice opponents have no right to take academic performance and security away from students who have no serious option in Cleveland public schools. . . . Tuesday’s decision was not a victory for religious freedom, as school choice opponents claimed. It was a vote to lock low-income children out of the quality education system they deserve.”
The Washington Times

“Even if the program were eventually invalidated, it’s hard to see how the opponents would suffer ‘irreparable harm,’ if it were allowed to keep operating until then. Taxpayers probably don’t pay anything extra for the program; more likely they gain for each student who leaves the public schools. But if children are forced to leave their private schools for months or years and the program is ultimately upheld, there is no way to restore that lost time.”
Chicago Tribune

“Decades ago, federal judges defied the racists and opened the schoolhouse doors for the poor. Now a federal judge in Cleveland seems determined to slam the door in the face of 4,000 mostly black children desperate for an equal shot at an excellent education. . . . To the cheers of the teachers unions and liberal elitists everywhere, U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. threw cold water on Cleveland’s voucher plan, which provides the princely sum of $2,500 to desperate parents seeking effective alternatives to their dysfunctional public schools.”
W. Russell G. Byers, senior editor
Philadelphia Daily News

“To have little kids turned away from school is a remnant of something that is quite ugly. That was wrong to do.”
Florida Governor Jeb Bush
Miami Herald

“[T]he educational and constitutional apocalypse predicted by the opponents of vouchers has not materialized in Cleveland. There are no private schools run by witches. . . . There is no evidence that Cleveland’s schoolchildren have been poisoned by religious zealotry from the left or the right. There are no reports of teachers speaking in tongues, or of principals biting the heads off live rattlesnakes.

“The judge shut the program down anyway.”
Dan Schnur
National Communications Director
Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign