Jim Crow-era measures used against vouchers

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 7, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wants to allow low-income children and students with special needs to use federal funds to attend the school of their choice. This is the right thing to do.

Private schools dedicated to those with special needs, such as autism, can make a huge difference. Romney's plan provides a way for families to pay for private schools without harming public education. Sadly, some educators will oppose this move. It's “their” money, after all.

A similar scholarship program in Oklahoma drew fierce opposition. Jenks and Union schools actually sued the parents of children with special needs for using the scholarships. Yes, the schools sued the parents of autistic children!

They based their opposition on the “Blaine Amendment” in Oklahoma's constitution. It forbids using state funds to support religious purposes. The measure was designed to hold back immigrant children by blocking access to Catholic schools, the kind of idea embraced by people who thought blacks should use separate restrooms — another measure enacted during the same era for the same reasons.

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