Some members of the Catholic hierarchy have ranted that religious freedom is under attack in the United States, but now one of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries is looking for inspiration from America’s tradition of church-state separation.
Watch for a major fight in Congress over taxpayer subsidies for religious and other private schools.
In his Republican response to the State of the Union this week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) touted “school choice,” a euphemism for vouchers.
“We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice,” Rubio said.
By Noah Fitzgerel
Aug. 1 will be a day that marks Louisiana’s continued effort to bore a hole though the wall of separation between church and state. That Wednesday is when the state’s new school voucher program kicks in and private schools that teach religion become eligible for taxpayer support.
In May 2011, Indiana enacted the "Choice Scholarship Program," a program in which the State provides vouchers for Indiana schoolchildren to attend private schools, including religious schools. Participating schools may deny admission to students on the basis of religious practice or belief. And students may be required to receive religious instruction and attend religious services.
The Douglas County Board of Education has created a “Pilot Choice Scholarship Plan,” through which the Douglas County School District has authorized 500 students to use state, per-pupil educational funds that are earmarked for the public school system as vouchers to attend private schools. Most of the participating “Private School Partners” are religious, and these participating schools may discriminate on the basis of religion in both hiring and admissions.
Another bad bill bites the dust! Lawmakers in Georgia tabled a measure yesterday that would have used taxpayer money to expand school vouchers for religious and other private schools.
SB 87 was a casualty of “crossover day,” which occurs on the 30th day of Georgia’s legislative session. For a bill to move forward, it must pass at least one legislative house by crossover day, otherwise it cannot be taken up until the next session at the earliest.
A voucher subsidy for religious and other private schools just passed the Pennsylvania Senate, and voucher schemes are bubbling in Ohio and Tennessee. Other states are wrestling with the issue as well.
As usual, proponents of the scheme are depicting vouchers as a way to ensure “educational choice.” But what they don’t tell you is that the “choice” remains with the religious and other private schools. It is they and not parents who decide who gets admitted to their classrooms.
Some people just don’t know when to give up. Take Springboro (Ohio) school board member Kelly Kohls. Kohls recently suggested that “intelligent design,” the current variation of creationism, be taught in her local public schools.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Kohls said, “Creationism is a significant part of the history of this country. It is an absolutely valid theory and to omit it means we are omitting part of the history of this country.”
Should all American taxpayers be forced to pay for religious schools? Make no mistake: that is exactly the question before us, and it grows more urgent as each day passes.