school-choice

Winds In Favor of Christian Education?

I find it interesting that everything that is specific to schools or school uses are way overpriced. I also find it interesting how private schools out perform other choices even though things are stacked against them. School desks and chairs, for example are exorbitant compared to that of general office supplies. Textbooks are another example. Could this be that there are deep state pockets that drive the price up at the expense of the smaller more financially strapped non-public school? Imagine what a Christian school could do with the finances that our public sector has in their coffers.
Pennsylvania is an important state in the fight for proper support of school choice. However, after meeting with several Commonwealth senators and representatives, we have some challenges. Each of them said that they are excited and willing to promote school choice legislation; but, each time they have championed something their constituency has stayed silent. That was disheartening to hear. Christian education is the answer. to what students need. We need an even playing field with other choices like charter and public schools.
Many nations in Europe and elsewhere have long provided government aid to private elementary and secondary schools, including religious schools. These countries have already faced such questions as whether to regulate private schools. To see what the U.S. might learn from them and to stimulate further discussion, the Center on Education Policy reviewed information from research studies, government documents, and other sources about private school funding and regulation in 22 nations. The think-tank looked at Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Private schools in many nations receive direct subsidies from the government. This situation contrasts with the U.S., where private K–12 schools receive virtually no direct government support and only limited indirect aid, such as bus transportation, textbook loans, and federally funded services for children with special needs. In most of these other countries, the funding of private schools does not provoke the controversy that it does in the U.S. Often the arrangements between government and private schools were established decades ago to protect the rights of religious denominations or to recognize the traditional role of religious schools in the overall education system. Understandably, there are challenges but, Christian schools can thrive in these environments.
Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other proponents of school voucher programs are praising a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a Lutheran church was wrongly denied a state grant for its preschool playground. But opponents say the ruling is far from an endorsement of the use of public money for religious schools. That is yet to be determined.
The Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, sided with Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which had sought a state grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground. “We should all celebrate the fact that programs designed to help students will no longer be discriminated against by the government based solely on religious affiliation,” DeVos said after the justices ruled Monday that Missouri violated the First Amendment in denying the grant.
The Missouri, church pre-school sought the grant under a non-profit reimbursement state program they planned to use in order to install playground surfaces made from recycled tires. The Department of Natural Resources denied the application stating the state constitution prohibits the use of public money “in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.”
The church’s challenge was watched by both sides of the debate over whether states can let parents choose to send their children to religious schools through publicly funded programs.
According to news feeds, teachers unions, which oppose vouchers as diverting money from public schools, said the narrow ruling dealt a setback to voucher proponents by leaving intact the state’s constitutional provision that prohibits state funding of religious actions.
The Center for Education Reform,a pro-school choice proponent, said that the justices had bolstered the choice movement by condemning the denial of a public benefit to an otherwise eligible recipient solely on the basis of its religious identity. This is still true even though the court did not review the constitutionality of Missouri’s prohibition on the use of state funds at religious institutions.
The current administration and recent rulings all seem to be favorable for non-public and religious schools. Many say that the government money comes with strings attached. I would contend that under the current cultural climate and progressive activists agenda that the Christian school is already under pressure. The only difference is that the Christian school does not have the funding it could use more wisely. Are we going to sit by and lose another opportunity to promote this crucial cause? What are we going to do about it?

Head of School Blog

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