The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an amicus brief Wednesday in Michigan v. DeVos, a critical legal dispute in federal court between a group of state attorneys general and the federal Education Department over the availability of CARES Act funding for private schools. WILL is leading a coalition of 38 state and national groups representing the interests of private schools and parental choice.
The Quote: Director and Legal Counsel of Education Policy Libby Sobic said, “COVID-19’s impact on America’s students was not confined to public school sectors. Congress allocated critical funding to both public and private schools with the intent of helping schools reopen safely and serve their students. We are proud to represent a broad coalition of groups that recognize the importance of CARES Act relief for America’s private schools.”
Background: The $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, included an Education Stabilization Fund to support schools with the costs of safely reopening and navigating the crisis. The law directed the Department of Education to distribute these funds “equitably” between public and private schools and students but did not dictate exactly how the funds should be distributed.
On June 25, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued an interim final rule that gives states and local public-school districts options for how to fairly allocate CARES Act relief to private schools. Many states and local school districts refused to follow the rule. Nine attorneys general and four metropolitan school districts, including Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, filed a multi-state federal lawsuit against the Education Department challenging the interim final rule and argued that the majority of the funding should be directed to public schools.
WILL’s Amicus: WILL’s amicus, on behalf of 38 state and national groups, represents the important interests of America’s private schools in this critical debate. COVID-19’s impact on education was not restricted to public schools. With more than 5 million students attending 33,000 schools, WILL and our coalition partners make clear that federal CARES Act relief is critical for the safety and education of the nearly 10% of American students attending private schools.
WILL’s amicus is joined by associations and advocacy groups that represent and support private schools and their families in Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and throughout the nation, that serve Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Lutheran, other Christian, and independent secular schools, and that collectively educate millions of students:
Council for American Private Education
National Catholic Educational Association
Agudath Israel of America
Council of Islamic Schools in North America
Association of Christian Schools International
Association of Christian Teachers and Schools
WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools
Wisconsin Council of Religious & Independent Schools
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
School Choice Wisconsin Action
California Catholic Conference
Michigan Catholic Conference
Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools
Pennsylvania Catholic Conference
Pennsylvania Affiliate of the Council for American Private Education
American Federation for Children
Foundation for Excellence in Education, Inc.
Catholic Education Partners
Liberty Justice Center
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Great Lakes Education Foundation
Rio Grande Foundation
School Choice Wisconsin
Colorado Catholic Conference
Colorado Association of Private Schools
Indiana Non-Public Education Association
Midsouth Association of Independent Schools
Catholic Conference of Oklahoma
Texas Private Schools Association
James Madison Institute
Mississippi Center for Public Policy
Nevada Policy Research Institute
Roughrider Policy Center
Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity