The Law of Parental Choice

Authored by: Nicole Stelle Garnett , John Schoenig

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses federal and state constitutional questions raised in a variety of parental choice contexts. It begins by considering whether, and to what extent, either federal or state constitutional law enshrines rights to education and/or parental choice. The chapter then turns to constitutional questions raised by public school choice programs, especially whether districts can use race in student admissions to achieve greater diversity. From there, the chapter addresses three constitutional questions raised by charter schools: First, for purposes of both state and federal constitutional law, are charter schools public or private? Second, does the federal Establishment Clause prohibit religious charter schools? And third, do racial disparities within the charter sector raise federal Equal Protection concerns? The final section of the chapter discusses four questions that private school choice programs raise: First, does the federal Establishment Clause prohibit faith-based schools from participating in private school choice programs? Second, what limitations does the federal constitution place on regulations governing private and faith-based schools’ participation in parental choice programs? Third, what limitations on private school choice are imposed by state constitutions? And fourth, can a state constitutionally exclude religious schools from participating in private school choice?

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