Charles C. Haynes points out the trap that religious schools can fall into if they decide to take government money.  For those of you who study the tight bonds between money and religious freedom, this story is a must-read. – Editor

EXCERPT:

CHARLES C. HAYNES
June 27, 2008

On June 16, seven Roman Catholic schools in Washington, D.C., were transformed into seven public charter schools by a unanimous vote of the D.C. Public Charter School Board. It's a conversion of sorts – only in reverse.

Other religious communities around the nation are already on the charter bandwagon, opening Arabic charters without Islam and Hebrew charters without Judaism. Not to be left behind, a Protestant minister in Harlem is pressing to start what he claims will be a religion-free charter in his church building.

Strange as it may sound, this is a hot new trend in education: creating faith-based schools without the faith.

Establishing a charter requires shedding overt religious identity because "religious charter school" is a First Amendment oxymoron. Although free from some regulations that apply to traditional public schools, charters are still public schools. That means they must be nonsectarian – neither promoting nor denigrating religion.

Read the full article at http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=145829&type=Daily

 
 

12 Comments

  1. Danielle Peabody says:

    As a public school teacher I see two major issues with this:

    First of all, this program may work for a couple of years without the schools changing their character, but after other people start to hear about the better curriculum, or better environment, etc., they will start to apply. Being under the public school system, the school can't deny those students access.

    Secondly, the schools say they will keep their same teachers, but you have to be "highly qualified," meaning that you meet "No Child Left Behind" standards, etc. Many private school teachers have not been hired under these qualifications, so federal guidelines might prohibit them from staying.

    In other words, within a few years, these schools will become just like regular public schools with perhaps a religious culture class.

  2. Danielle Peabody says:

    As a public school teacher I see two major issues with this:

    First of all, this program may work for a couple of years without the schools changing their character, but after other people start to hear about the better curriculum, or better environment, etc., they will start to apply. Being under the public school system, the school can't deny those students access.

    Secondly, the schools say they will keep their same teachers, but you have to be "highly qualified," meaning that you meet "No Child Left Behind" standards, etc. Many private school teachers have not been hired under these qualifications, so federal guidelines might prohibit them from staying.

    In other words, within a few years, these schools will become just like regular public schools with perhaps a religious culture class.

  3. Kevin James says:

    Reliance on the State to do the work of the Church always converts the church to the State, never the other way around. It is like making the Ten Commandments just another "historical document" among many others so you can "legally" post them in court houses or other government buildings. It in effect strips the Decalogue of its source of purpose and power: God. It's a terrible trap with awful results and faith based groups need to heed the danger signs in this matter if they truly want to be the effectual ministry they feel God (Whoever they view Him to be) has called them to be.

  4. Kevin James says:

    Reliance on the State to do the work of the Church always converts the church to the State, never the other way around. It is like making the Ten Commandments just another "historical document" among many others so you can "legally" post them in court houses or other government buildings. It in effect strips the Decalogue of its source of purpose and power: God. It's a terrible trap with awful results and faith based groups need to heed the danger signs in this matter if they truly want to be the effectual ministry they feel God (Whoever they view Him to be) has called them to be.

  5. cangel says:

    I read the whole article. It was fascinating. As a former Catholic school teacher I have seen changes in my school system with the influx of non Catholic students whose parents want to give them a 'good' education. The religious part of the curriculum was watered down. The 'catholicity' was slowly eroded. I eventually left the system and I am tutoring students. At this point in history I am seeing schools that are supposed to be slanted to a religion or culture being watered down in their mission and goal. It is becoming less difficult to tell the difference between private and public school.

  6. cangel says:

    I read the whole article. It was fascinating. As a former Catholic school teacher I have seen changes in my school system with the influx of non Catholic students whose parents want to give them a 'good' education. The religious part of the curriculum was watered down. The 'catholicity' was slowly eroded. I eventually left the system and I am tutoring students. At this point in history I am seeing schools that are supposed to be slanted to a religion or culture being watered down in their mission and goal. It is becoming less difficult to tell the difference between private and public school.

  7. Carmen says:

    Well now I know where some of the Catholic schools have gone. They are Charter Schools. Catholic Schools could not substain themselves no longer anyway. They have been loosing alot of money for many years because it was getting too expensive for parents to pay for their children to go to a Catholic school. Alot of Catholic schools had no choice but to close and now they can get funded from the government as a charter school. Some of the Charter Schools I know about, I love their standards. I just hope these standards stay this way and not go way of some of these public schools where many kids are failing and not learning a thing. Be ready. You will see a whole lot of Charter Schools popping up here and there soon. Yes, I can see that this is the new trend right now.

  8. Carmen says:

    Well now I know where some of the Catholic schools have gone. They are Charter Schools. Catholic Schools could not substain themselves no longer anyway. They have been loosing alot of money for many years because it was getting too expensive for parents to pay for their children to go to a Catholic school. Alot of Catholic schools had no choice but to close and now they can get funded from the government as a charter school. Some of the Charter Schools I know about, I love their standards. I just hope these standards stay this way and not go way of some of these public schools where many kids are failing and not learning a thing. Be ready. You will see a whole lot of Charter Schools popping up here and there soon. Yes, I can see that this is the new trend right now.

  9. Allison says:

    I'm actually torn on this issue. On the one hand, maybe these schools are trying not to be so religious in order to reach out to non-religious families and thus it'll earn more money; maybe, if it's not-so-religious the state will give it more funding. At the same time it seems suspicious that they would be religious without the religion.

  10. Allison says:

    I'm actually torn on this issue. On the one hand, maybe these schools are trying not to be so religious in order to reach out to non-religious families and thus it'll earn more money; maybe, if it's not-so-religious the state will give it more funding. At the same time it seems suspicious that they would be religious without the religion.

  11. cheryl says:

    This is very interesting. I have had a child in private christian education for the last 3 years. My main reasoning for sending her there was because of the christian values and environment that she was in. I would not have sent her there only for the curriculum. I do understand private schools not being able to stay open because of finances. Most private (especially those that are faith based) do not truly charge enough tuition and fees to keep the doors open. Fundraising is a large part of that and with the economy being what it is there is an obvious decrease in funds raised.

    With all that being said I don't believe that faith based public schools is a true entity. Without faith the schools are irrelevant. There is no need for them to exist on any level if faith is not present. The culture of faith is important but it is not enough.

  12. cheryl says:

    This is very interesting. I have had a child in private christian education for the last 3 years. My main reasoning for sending her there was because of the christian values and environment that she was in. I would not have sent her there only for the curriculum. I do understand private schools not being able to stay open because of finances. Most private (especially those that are faith based) do not truly charge enough tuition and fees to keep the doors open. Fundraising is a large part of that and with the economy being what it is there is an obvious decrease in funds raised.

    With all that being said I don't believe that faith based public schools is a true entity. Without faith the schools are irrelevant. There is no need for them to exist on any level if faith is not present. The culture of faith is important but it is not enough.

 
 
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