Institute for Justice: Parent group brings swift response to NEA lawsuit over public funding of correspondence schools

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A group of Alaska families announced Thursday they have brought the Institute for Justice to defend them against the National Education Association’s lawsuit that seeks to end public funding of the state’s correspondence school program.

The NEA has sued the state over state statute over private online schools. The lawsuit would impact over 20,000 students in the correspondence program, as almost all students in the correspondence program use the private option. Raven, Family Partnership, and others would be swept up and defunded, if NEA has its way. The NEA lawsuit impacts over 20 percent of Alaska students, including students that use online classes.

It’s not just Holy Rosary Academy — it is everybody in private schools, home schools and correspondent programs. The irony is that two years ago, during the Covid pandemic when all public schools around the state closed, the state sought help from a Florida-based online school that was able to scale up to absorb students during the final spring quarter of 2020. The state paid for the enrollment of students in the Florida Virtual School to keep children from falling behind.

The NEA lawsuit seeks to end the ability to use correspondence school allotments for private educational services like the Florida Virtual School or the dozens of programs in Alaska.

See some of the private and correspondence schools impacted by the NEA lawsuit here.

“Alaska’s correspondence study program has produced massive educational benefits for Alaska’s children,” said Institute for Justice Attorney David Hodges. “We’re prepared to defend the rights of all Alaska families to get the educational services that best fit their unique needs.” 

As a sparsely populated state, Alaska faces unique challenges in ensuring that all children can receive an education. To address this concern, the state created “correspondence programs,” in which a student’s public school used the post office or float planes to deliver lessons to students across the state and then pick up and grade assignments. In 1997, this law was broadened to allow parents more ability to design their children’s curriculum and receive reimbursement for certain educational expenses. Then, in 2014, the law was broadened even further to allow correspondence schools to reimburse parents if they chose to send their students to nonpublic schools.  

“The Alaska correspondence school program helped me find the school that works best for my son,” said Andrea Moceri, one of the parents teaming up with Institute for Justice. “I am defending this program so that every Alaska family has access to the best education possible for their children.”     

Institute for Justice is the leader in defending school choice programs throughout the country. In 2020, Institute for Justice won a case before the United States Supreme Court which held that a state does not need to subsidize private education, but that once it chooses to do so it cannot discriminate against a school solely because it is religious.

Two years later, Institute for Justice won another landmark case before the nation’s highest court, which established that Maine’s exclusion of religious schools from its tuitioning program violated the Constitution.

Earlier this year, Institute for Justice intervened in a New Hampshire case to defend the popular Education Freedom Account Program, which allows families to use public funds on various educational expenses.     

20 COMMENTS

  1. Seems the NEA is just another corporate entity using the law to increase their market share and profits. Disgusting behavior in any business, especially shameful when the product involves childrens futures.

  2. The Alaska Constitution in black and white “No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religeous or other private educational institution.” 70% of Alaskans voted No for a Constitutional Convention. The Institute of Justice should use their money for education, not frivilous lawsuits

    • That quote from the state constitution will eventually be eliminated in 1 of 3 ways: It will be found in violation of the US constitution, or it will eventually be repealed when we have parents wake up and realize the insanity clause of “more money will make it all better”, or we will wind up with more kids in alternative and private schools than in public schools.

    • 1-Somehow I doubt they will spend the millions this takes on something they deem “frivolous”

      2-The US Constitution supersedes any and all state constitutions.

  3. This should be about a child getting the best education. Unfortunately, the NEA believes it is about protecting the institution of public education. The NEA wants to relegate many kids to failing and mediocre schools. I thought parents had the responsibility and right to educate their kids the best. Parents need to rise up and protect their children. Now is the time.

  4. Speaking as a former NEA member, I think the NEA should stay out of this. Public money should go to public schools, but the NEA still should not be taking this fight.

    • If public money should go to public schools, what about parents who choose to homeschool or send their kids to private school? Shouldn’t we get back our tax money that goes to the school district?

      The NEA is attacking homeschoolers because public schools are hemorrhaging students. They want your kids and they want all the money they can get, period.

      • By your argument it sounds like you would support those without kids pay no taxes. That won’t fly IMO and neither will public money be legally allowed for private schools (even correspondence). Just because correspondence schools don’t have a school building and daily teachers, doesn’t mean they should be exempt from our laws on use of public moneys.

        • And as a non parent tax provider, I absolutely should not be on the hook for public education. Especially in Alaska. I get zero return on investment from a system that continually demands more money, with a education rating in the bottom three in the nation. Children’s best form of learning should be priority, not some a hole union or lazy teacher.

          • So you think improving public education would come by cutting their public funds. Why I’ll bet you are just full of ideas that might reduce your participation in a functioning society. It must just chap your a$$ to find yourself in the minority everywhere but mark. Heheh.

          • Well Bill, when the education of Alaskas children is not becoming any better than 47th or 48th in the nation, there seems to be a problem. Throwing more money at the system to be wasted by the district, and unions does not seem to be the answer. The teachers surely are not benefitting.

            NEA and public education are dropping brown in their shorts as their funding starts to shrink with the drop in numbers attending due to parents home schooling and or private education. Less students is a giant drop in state and federal funding. Must chap your mentally challenged bottom end.

          • These things like dropping student population can also be due to these kids leaving the state. And occasionally these home school funding gets caught up in politics, too. Some years ago the Yukon Koyokuk school district axed their own correspondence school, thinking they would get those students back in their schools, but they just mostly went with the state correspondence program. They were sold a bill of goods by their superintendent and swallowed it destroying a very good correspondence program over a few dollars.
            Anyway Denali, you likely don’t have kids in schools and bitch about your property taxes. Tough noogies to you.

  5. The NEA has stated in the past that their priorities lie with the teachers of the union and NOT with the students. I’ll take them at their word, on that. So they admit that they exist to make more money for teachers which, in turn, puts more money in their pockets. This is a pure business move. If they can force us to change the way we conduct our education systems, then they make more money. The fact that this screws at least 20,000 students and their families doesn’t even cross their minds. In fact, I’d bet money that the people in the NEA have no idea that we educate some of our children in remote conditions. They probably cannot fathom the idea of no roads.

    Play the odds. If the NEA pushes for a change, resist with all your might, ’cause it will NEVER be for the students benefit. Is there any way the NEA can be barred from Alaska? In the name of protecting our children?

  6. I’m a tax payer! And if families want too home school! Great! More power too you! We all know there is resources!
    Federal funded public schools loss many students due to their treatment of the COVID thing! I’ll leave it that!

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