Do religious-leaning charter schools violate the separation of church and state?

Yes. Public money should not be used to finance schools that have potentially religious curricula.
53% (194 votes)
No. These charter schools are simply offering a culturally sensitive education. They represent the diverse array of school-choice options that should be made available to all students regardless of income.
20% (74 votes)
It depends. As long as their curricula remain strictly ethical, historical, and cultural, allowing for the free expression of religion without teaching or requiring the practice of it, such schools should be allowed to apply for public funding.
24% (87 votes)
None of the above. (See below to comment.)
2% (8 votes)
Total votes: 363

Comments (33)

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Tim Van Soelen, Professor of Education, Dordt College (not verified)

Respectfully disagree

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Thank you for contributing to the conversation and I appreciate your comments. While I can follow your logic, I hope you can follow mine. Public schools educate the public's children. Private schools also educate the public's children. All of these children are going to become contributing citizens of our communities. Why should we not have a choice in where we want to send our kids to school? We have choices where to buy gas, where to purchase clothing, which restaurant to dine at - but not which school to attend (unless you have enough resources to pay the tuition). Won't a little competition make all of our schools become better at what we expect them to do? Who really knows, better than the child's parent, which school will be able to best meet the educational needs of their child? Let's bring parents back into the decision-making and responsibility of their child's education.

Anonymous (not verified)

I couldn't agree

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I couldn't agree more...wouldn't this be a great curriculum?!

Anonymous (not verified)

Parents with children in religious schools shouldn't pay taxes?

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+1

By that logic, persons without children of school age shouldn't pay taxes either, and perhaps residents of low-crime neighborhoods should pay reduced taxes for police services.
The public schools are a public good for all. I do not have children but it would not serve me well to have illiterate compatriots.
If people want more for their children than the government is in a position to provide -- e.g., sectarian instruction -- they can pay for it.

Harriet (not verified)

Well said! I agree!

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Well said! I agree!

Jtaylor (not verified)

When a religious institution

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When a religious institution agrees to accept government monies, then it opens itself up to becoming dependent on those monies. This is very dangerous. The government would then have indirect power to eliminate these groups. This could be achieved easily by waiting a few years, and then putting unrealistic accountability / allignment demands on the funds. If offered completely "string free" and for a very short period of (start up) time, perhaps it could work.

Anonymous (not verified)

All public school is religious

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The problem I see here is that all teaching at any school is based upon some worldview. In the case of public schools it is a humanistic or pluralistic one.- I believe it is impossible to keep religion out of any school. At least these guys are being more forthright than most, acknowledging the important role that religion - even if it is their religion plays in the history of nations and politics. I would much rather be able to choose a school based upon its outright, nonhidden philosophy of religion than one that pretends that such does not exist in our school system.

Anonymous (not verified)

Seperation of Church and State

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If someone were to look back and study the Constution, they would never find the words, "seperation of church and state." The term was taken out of a writing by Thomas Jefferson. The U.S. Supreme court decided to use this writing to help interpret the Constitution. There is nothing unconstitutional about teaching religion in schools. As far as money going to private or charter schools, I think they should recieve the same funding as public schools. If they don't, then the parents who feel it is in the best interest of their children to send them to a private school, should not have to pay public school taxes. It is not fair for someone to be punished for their beliefs by having to pay tuition and school taxes.

Donna J McKinnon (not verified)

Separation of church and state

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The separation of church and state was to keep the state from interferring with the church as it had in England.
As long as the religious schools are teaching reading, writing, and arithematic, they should be supported in the same way as public schools.

Anonymous (not verified)

Religious Charter Schools

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I believe that schools should teach comparative religion - but not proselytize. As a part of social studies schools can teach "Christians believe ___" "Muslims believe___" "Buddhists believe___" "Jews believe" and so on - in other words not in a "religious" context, but in an objective, scholarly manner. In other words teaching "about" religion, but not "from" a religion is what I would advise. If religions are taught about - then all of the major, world religions should be given equal air time. Since many civilizations were or are organized around various religions, to leave this knowledge out of the curriculum would not give an accurate picture historically speaking. Similarly, knowledge about religion's transgressions against various cultures and peoples should also taught - in the case of Native Americans, Indigenous peoples from many lands, and other historical phenomena such as the Inquisition or the Reformation, or the Counter Reformation. For instance, it is nearly impossible to teach western music history without involving the study of European religious music. To leave this knowledge out of the curriculum would be ridiculous. Care has to be taken in the earlier grades, so that younger students do not mistake study "about" a religion with proselytizing.
If a charter school is engaged in putting forth a religious agenda, then no - it should not receive public funding. I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.

Vincent L. (not verified)

The Blurring Is Already Occurring!

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Actually this issue is much more complex than it first appears. While every effort should be made to enact and enforce the separationist spirit of the First Amendment's establishment clause, the public school "blurring is occurring" on several levels. Generally-there have been quite a number of exceptions to totally ecumenical, equalitarian public school environments for a number of years including for example, specialized (and in some cases neo-elitist and thus de facto exclusionary) charter schools; patently quasi-racist, neo-segregated, non-ecumenically-defined schools heavily emphasizing non-white, non-Asian so-called "Afro-centric" or "Hispanic-centric" curricula and ethos. Moreover, if these schools are allowed then a secularized, universalist school emphasizing Jewish ethnic-cultural-historical traditions in a similar way (i.e., Jewish identity is far more than merely associated with the Torah and Talmud) but similar to the "centric" schools and charter schools above-includes 4000 years of a rich, truly global world history and a distinctive racial-ethnic-cultural domain every bit as legitimate, worthwhile, and distinguishable to "Afro-centrism" etc. Therefore, I support the third option as a thoughtful yet reasonably rigorous test of the ostensibly "separationist" post-modern public school environment: " It depends. As long as their curricula remain strictly ethical, historical, and cultural, allowing for the free expression of religion without teaching or requiring the practice of it, such schools should be allowed to apply for public funding."

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