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#AskExcelinEd: How do Blaine Amendments Impact School Choice Policy?

• Cara Candal and Tim Abram

In 2018 the State of Montana struck down a tax-credit funded scholarship program that allowed low-income students to access private schools. The Montana Supreme Court reasoned that because students could take scholarships to faith-based schools, the entire program violated Montana’s Blaine Amendment, a constitutional provision from the 1870s that prevents religious institutions from receiving public benefits, such as government funding. The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, is now before the Supreme Court of the United States.

As the country waits for a decision, check out these past #AskExcelinEd blog posts explaining Blaine Amendments and examining their impact on school choice programs across the country.

#AskExcelinEd Favorites

What are Blaine Amendments?

ExcelinEd’s Dr. Cara Candal gives a brief history on Blaine Amendments and their legacy on the evolution of school choice throughout the United States.

Are All Blaine Amendments Equal?

Next in the series, Dr. Candal explains how Blaine Amendments are not equal. While they all attempt to prevent government money from flowing to faith-based institutions, some states go a step further and prohibit indirect aid—aid that flows first to a parent, for example, who then chooses to take that money to a program sponsored by a faith-based institution.

How Could Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue Impact Education?

Finally, ExcelinEd’s Tim Abram explains how a decision in the Espinoza case could change the school choice landscape across the country. With over 500,000 families benefiting from these policies, the importance of this case cannot be overstated.

Learn More

Learn more about Blaine Amendments and school choice programs, like Education Scholarship Accounts, on the Opportunity Learning Hub.

About the authors

Cara Candal

Cara Candal serves as Director of Educational Opportunity, focusing on private school choice, for ExcelinEd. Cara has spent the last 10 years working in education policy as a Senior Fellow with both Pioneer Institute and the Center for Education Reform. She was also a founding team member of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) and a research assistant professor at Boston University in the Department of Educational Leadership and Development. Cara has authored/edited more than 25 papers and three books on education policy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Indiana University, a Masters of Arts in Social Science from the University of Chicago and a Doctorate of Education from Boston University.

Tim Abram

Tim Abram serves as ExcelinEd’s Associate Policy Director of Educational Opportunity. Prior to joining ExcelinEd, Tim worked as a public policy manager for VIPKid, a leading ed-tech company. Additionally, Tim has been an education policy fellow for Senator Chris Murphy and a public policy fellow for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Tim also taught United States history in the Mississippi Delta as a Teach For America corps member. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Leadership from the University of Mississippi and a Masters of Education specializing in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.