This Monday marks the 30th anniversary of Edwards v. Aguillard, a milestone U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the separation of church and state in public schools. As we mark the anniversary, it’s a good time to examine the history of the efforts to undermine instruction about evolution in public schools – and understand that the threat remains with us.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was expected to finally reveal details of President Donald J. Trump’s long-promised federal school voucher plan last night. Instead, we heard a lot of platitudes, but little in the way of a policy proposal.
President Donald J. Trump visited a Catholic school in Orlando today for what has been described as a “listening session” on “school choice.” In other words, a rally for private school vouchers.
Trump, kids in school uniforms, and claims about widespread success of a government program may make for good political theater. But, “alternative facts” and anecdotes are a terrible basis for policy. The truth is that vouchers masquerading as “school choice” are a failure.
Religious Right “Christian nation” advocate and pseudo-historian David Barton has a special offer for teachers: From March 15-17, he’ll be offering a conference at his home base in Aledo, Texas, “designed to equip teachers from both public and private schools with the principles and techniques that were used in early American education and thereafter for decades.”
In 2007, Americans United argued in federal court that a public school district in New Jersey acted correctly when it ordered a football coach to stop praying with players and other students.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the school district’s favor against the coach, Marcus Borden of East Brunswick High School, in 2008 and confirmed that his actions were unconstitutional because they violated the First Amendment.
President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Betsy DeVos as his nominee for Secretary of Education, despite the fact that she has no experience with public education. Instead, DeVos has led the crusade to create taxpayer-funded private school voucher programs, which undermine our public schools. What’s more, vouchers don’t improve educational outcomes, they lack accountability and oversight, they fund schools that discriminate and violate religious freedom.
Americans will go to the polls tomorrow and elect a new president. It’s an awesome responsibility, one of the defining characteristics of a free people.
Americans United is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Under federal law, we can’t endorse or oppose candidates (although we can take sides on ballot referenda). Unlike some Religious Right groups, we respect this law and follow it.
It’s not our job to tell you how to vote. It is our job to remind you why civic participation is important. And it’s our job to tell you – and all Americans – what we stand for.
A Tennessee mother is arguing that her family’s “personal religious beliefs were violated” because her daughter was expected to learn historical and objective information about Islam as a part of her social studies curriculum in a public school.