Public Funds Public Schools



Tamerlin Godley

Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) is a program started by the controversial left-wing extremism watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), its affiliated SPLC Action Fund, the Education Law Center, and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson. [1]  Its primary objectives are to prohibit taxpayer funds from providing any support to private schools by filing lawsuits, monitoring school voucher proposals in state legislatures, and supporting research that condemns school voucher programs. [2]


Because of the joint founding of PFPS by its several parent organizations, the legal filings, opposition letters, and program funding are often driven by many or all of the founding organizations. As well, PFPS shares an office with Education Law Center in New Jersey, and PFPS founder Tamerlin Godley is a litigation partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson. [3]

McEwen v. Lee

On March 2, 2020, Public Funds Public Schools reported that its parent groups SPLC and Education Law Center would be representing plaintiffs alongside the ACLU’s Tennessee state affiliate in a lawsuit challenging the Tennessee Education Savings Account program as unconstitutional. [4] [5]

PFPS supported a March 19, 2020 letter written by the Utah Education Association teachers’ union to Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) requesting that he veto HB 332, a proposal to create a tax-credit school voucher for students with disabilities. [6]

PFPS published a report in February 2020 criticizing the allocation of funds for schools in New York. The report claims a $3.6 billion shortfall for public schools in New York based on claims by Foundation Aid Formula, which has been criticized for flawed measurements of fund allocations for public schools. [7] [8]

PFPS published a policy brief in January 2020 criticizing private school vouchers in Mississippi. The bill, SB 2695, included provisions for an Education Savings Account for students with disabilities. [9] [10]

PFPS submitted an amicus curiae brief on November 5, 2019 along with its parent organizations to the Montana Supreme Court arguing that student achievement is harmed when funds are dispersed to both public and private schools in Montana. [11]

On December 27, 2019, PFPS filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Michigan Supreme Court to undo existing Michigan law allowing for state funding of private schools. [12]

On April 16, 2019, PFPS filed an amicus curiae brief along with National Education Association and Maine Education Association teachers’ unions in support of a decision to deny tuition funding for religious schools in Maine. [13] [14]

PFPS opposed a 2017 bill in Arizona allowing for an Education Savings Account limited to students with disabilities, Native Americans, and students in low-performing schools. Another proposed expansion of Arizona’s Education Savings Account came in 2019 to include students from low income families and students who have been victims of harassment and crime. PFPS expressed opposition to this proposal as well, and the bill eventually failed. [15]

PFPS supported the efforts of teachers’ unions in West Virginia and Kentucky to augment efforts to divert funds away from private schools and cited labor unions as “one of the most effective ways to stop private school voucher proposals.” [16]


  1. “Tamerlin J. Godley.” Munger Tolles & Olson. LLP. 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  2. “Private School Voucher Analysis of 2019 State Legislative Session.” Public Funds Public Schools. November 26, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  3. “Tamerlin J. Godley.” Munger Tolles & Olson. LLP. 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  4. Parents sue Tennessee to block unconstitutional voucher law. WATN-TV. March 2, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  5. “Parents Sue Tennessee To Block Unconstitutional Voucher Law.” Public Funds Public Schools. March 2, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  6. “UEA Letter to Governor Herbert.” Utah Education Association. March 19, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  7. “New York Can’t Afford It.” Public Funds Public Schools. February 2020. Access April 4, 2020. ^
  8. “Problems with the Foundation Aid Formula – Changes must be made to Create Greater Equity.” The Statewide School Finance Consortium. September 2012. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  9. “Education Scholarship Account.” Mississippi Department of Education. 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  10. “Invest in Public Schools: End ineffective Private School Voucher Programs.” Public funds Public Schools. January 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020.–_MS_School_Vouchers.pdf ^
  11. “BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE PUBLIC FUNDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS.” Montana Supreme Court. November 15, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  12. “BRIEF FOR AMICUS CURIAE PUBLIC FUNDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS” State of Michigan in the Supreme Court. December 27, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  13. “Amicus Brief Supports Maine’s Decision Not to use Public Funding on sectarian Schools.” Education Law Center. April 16, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  14. “Brief Amicus Curiae of Public Funds Public Schools, National Education Association, and Maine Education Association in Support of Defendant Makin’s Motion for Summary Judgment.” United States District Court, District of Maine, Bangor Division. April 8, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. . ^
  15. “Private School Vouchers: An Unsuccessful Effort to Overturn the Will of Voters in Arizona and Growing Suburban Opposition in Texas.” Public Funds Public Schools. December 10, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
  16. “Private School Vouchers: The Impact of Educator Activism in West Virginia and Kentucky” Public funds Public Schools. December 16, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2020. ^
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