Supporters of private school “choice” – by which they mean their right to choose to pass the bill for private religious education to the taxpayer – believe they are on a roll. To some extent, they’re right.
In March, Indiana’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s voucher plan doesn’t violate a provision in the Indiana Constitution that bars tax aid to religion. In the wake of that ruling, legislators promptly approved an expansion of the program.
By all accounts, Carla Hale was a dedicated and popular teacher who loved her job.
Yet when she showed up for work a few weeks ago, Hale was summoned into an administrator’s office and subjected to a grilling. Not long after that, she was summarily fired from her position at a Clintonville, Ohio, high school.
Yesterday Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam abruptly pulled a private school voucher bill after some legislators refused to give him assurances that they would not try to alter the bill in ways Haslam does not support.
This is a good thing. Vouchers are a bad idea that distract from meaningful education reform.
But other voucher proposals are still pending in the legislature, so the issue is not dead in Tennessee.
The end of the year is a time for lists. You’re probably seeing a lot of them – “25 Best Books of 2012,” “10 Overlooked Movies,” “What’s Hot and What’s Not” or whatever.
Along those lines, here’s a list of the Top Ten Church-State Stories from 2012 (listed in no particular order):
There’s good news from Louisiana for a change. A state court on Friday struck down Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ill-conceived voucher plan, saying it violates a provision of the Louisiana Constitution governing education funding.
The challenge to vouchers in Louisiana was not brought on church-state grounds. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.
Some Tennessee legislators are big on vouchers, and they prodded Gov. Bill Haslam to establish a nine-member task force to study tax subsidies for religious and other private schools. Unfortunately, its members have promptly blundered into a minefield.
Details can be messy things. The task force wrangled over questions such as accountability, how to ensure that students in voucher schools are getting a good education and how much vouchers should be worth.
Advocates of private school vouchers often point to Wisconsin as a model. The state has had a voucher plan since the early 1990s. At first limited to secular private schools in the city of Milwaukee, the voucher scheme was later expanded to include religious institutions.
The ongoing disgrace that is the Louisiana voucher plan continues to scandalize. This is a pretty impressive feat, considering that the program hasn’t even been fully implemented yet.
“The Wall of Separation” has reported previously about how leaders of religious schools are using the taxpayer funds to increase enrollment and how some schools plan to teach creationism and other discredited ideas.
A member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who eagerly supported Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to fund private schools has had an epiphany: Muslim schools might start getting taxpayer money!
Rep. Valarie Hodges, a Republican who represents East Baton Rouge and Livingston, now says she wishes she hadn’t voted for the Jindal voucher bill.
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” Hodges told the Livingston Parish News.