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THE STATE AND EDUCATION

January 22, 2019

THE STATE AND EDUCATION

Professor Kennedy in a recent blog tells us of a Democratic Indiana State Representative (Forestal) who is going to introduce a bill in the legislature outlawing appropriations of tax money for private (mostly religious) schools, and this in a state where millions of taxpayer dollars go to such schools at the expense of public school funding. With a solidly Republican House and Senate who are responsible for the current system, his effort is, of course, doomed in committee, even though studies show Hoosier students in public schools have better educational outcomes than those who attend such private schools. Professor Kennedy wrote of educational standards and performance measures, including what is taught etc., and asked for responses. Here, slightly edited, was mine.

Even if private schools had civics taught by atheists, even if the standards of private schools were superior to those of public schools, even if the results showed that private school graduates performed better than those of public schools, still allocation of public funds for such private schools is in my view nonetheless unconstitutional from the beginning (or ab initio in lawyer lingo), and remains so irrespective of result.

So how would we treat such unlikely “even if” situations? Bring the public schools up to speed in re standards and performance based upon private school initiatives, treating the private schools’ superior performance as a Brandeisian “laboratory” of what works and what doesn’t from which to learn how to improve the educational outcomes of public school students.

My point here is that we cannot make something constitutional that isn’t because tests and studies with whatever result are unrelated to the core issue of constitutionality. The present end-around attempts by state legislatures to hand out taxpayer money to private schools via statutes and twisted rules and regs should be contested in every jurisdiction where such attempts are made, and I applaud Forestal’s effort to uphold the constitutions both state and federal.

Finally, I think Jesus, who is said to have opined that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, thus approving the separation of church vs. state, would approve – but then, he wasn’t following the money.       GERALD         E

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