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NEPC Review: Religious Charter Schools: Legally Permissible? Constitutionally Required? (Manhattan Institute, December 2020)

The Manhattan Institute’s recent report concludes that the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue requires states to grant charters to religious organizations, including those that intend to deliver an explicitly religious curriculum that teaches religion as truth. While Espinoza involved a publicly financed private school tuition (voucher-like) program, the report reasons that its logic applies in full force to charter schools as well. Although this report does raise an important question and identifies the key issues for answering it, it excludes key federal and state case law necessary to fully and fairly analyze the issues. Similarly, it fails to acknowledge extensive key expert analysis on matters left unresolved by courts. The result is a one-sided analysis of the issue that is not a reliable basis for state action.

Document Reviewed: