For those who may not have studied Constitutional Law or, sadly, been subject to state sponsored ‘public schools’ that rarely, if ever, discussed in any real detail, the fundamental principles that laid the foundation of our country, I thought I might take a moment to expound a bit on the euphemism often bantered about (incorrectly), known as “separation of church and state” in the context of school choice. These words, “separation of church and state”, are an ‘interpretation’ of the first line of our 1st Amendment which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Please note the word “establishment” and the phrase “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and recognize their literal (not interpreted) meanings.
It was never the ‘original intent’ of the founders that the “state” was to purge itself of religious beliefs and/or act as some kind of ‘gatekeeper’ protecting the civil population from any particular or all, religious beliefs or customs. The ‘original intent’ of the phrase, in our 1st Amendment, was to address the fear of the establishment of a State Church or State Religion such as they had fled from (Church of England) to come here. Their fear (the merging church and state) they knew, results in practice, in suppressing other religions and since freedom of religion (not freedom ‘from’ religion) was, in fact, one of the prima facie reasons for the formation of the united States, the “state” would never be allowed to interfere with religion or establish a preference for one belief (creed) over another.
If “separation of church and state” was really ‘legally binding’ when it comes to funding schools having a religious ‘bent’ (as some people incorrectly believe) ~ if it were such a ‘hallowed’ American legal axiom that none should ever suggest we violate it, then why does the Federal government, in fact, fund private, religious schools? Taxpayer dollars flow every year to Boston College (run by Jesuits) ~ College of the Holy Cross ~ Georgetown University ~ Thomas Aquinas College ~ and the University of Notre Dame (to name a few) and these are catholic colleges. They all receive taxpayer funding through Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which covers the administration of the united States Federal student financial aid programs. Federal tax monies fund “Title IV aid” and half the students attending these schools receive Title IV grants and Title IV “Federal” underwritten student loans ~ these funds underwrite these religious schools. Nor does funding only apply to the catholics. Your Federal tax dollars offer the same Title IV financial support for protestant schools such as Davidson College ~ St. Olaf College ~ Baylor University ~ Luther College ~ and Augustana University as well as all other religious denominations throughout our country which are similarly funded/supported.
Anyone reading the paragraph above should conclude & concede that the ‘interpretative’ phrase “separation of church and state” (as they understand it) clearly does NOT apply to ‘equally’ funding religious schools as they like to use the phrase. The Higher Education Act of 1965 (Federal funding) does NOT discriminate against school choice even when that choice is to attend any of the 1,000 religious affiliated colleges and universities in the united States. It could be posited that to do so ~ to ‘preclude’ funding tuition assistance equally ~ would be a direct violation of our Constitution’s 1st Amendment reading in part: “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
People lamenting that if school choice is equally funded, if private or religious related schools are included in any eventual tuition grant agreement, that the funding (gravy train) for these public, unaccountable citadels of state sponsored ‘learning’ might be reduced. What they’re ‘really’ supporting, however, isn’t some interpretation of the wording of our 1st Amendment but the continuation of state run monopoly on propagandized indoctrination and the protection of little or zero accountability for performance and outcome if the guiding metric is, in fact, student grades and performance. One should remember ‘why’ state sponsored/controlled schooling was implemented in the united States.
We can thank Horace Mann, then secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, seeking a way to change what he deemed the “unruly” (meaning independent) children into disciplined citizens who studied the Prussian model of public education of the 1840s and brought it home to America to be adopted nationwide. The Prussian, forced public educational system was designed for the purpose of delivering: “1) Obedient soldiers to the army; 2) Obedient workers for mines, factories, and farms; 3) Well-subordinated civil servants, trained in their function; 4) Well-subordinated clerks for industry; 5) Citizens who thought alike on most issues; 6) National uniformity in thought, word, and deed.” (https://www.forcedschool.com/post/69947261758/the-prussian-model) Given the current acknowledgment that the public school systems have generally resulted in “the dumbing down of America” I suppose what’s being supported is the maintenance of that existing status quo providing the state with a cowed, subservient and easily controlled population. Or, given the fact that “free education for all children in public schools” was a key plank of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, perhaps they’re supporting that leftist goal. I wonder why?
School choice reflects nothing but People making market-driven decisions. They go for whatever resource/service will provide them the best product (if they’re allowed to “choose”) that they can afford. It’s the very premise of ‘outsourcing’. In our particular case (Goshen, New Hampshire) our options are the state controlled ‘pillars’ of learning such as the Newport public schools or similarly controlled venues in towns further away or the local private options. The private options include The Montessori school in Newport or the catholic school in Sunapee both of which are far less expensive than our town hands over to the low performing ‘public’ Newport school, et al. Another critical consideration for any parent is that based on empirical evidence such as student test scores, these two private options offer a superior education. I chose Mount Royal, not because of any religious bent (I’m, in fact, an avowed atheist) but because of the ‘value’ of the education offered.
So, ignore the fact that school choice (including private or religious schools) hasn’t violated the 1st Amendment by establishing any church or preferential treatment towards a church. Ignore the fact that school choice (including private or religious schools) hasn’t interfered with the practice of anyone’s religion or lack thereof and, most importantly, ignore the fact that the government has (in fact) been supporting school choice (including private and religious schools) by funneling millions of dollars annually to over a thousand religious colleges and universities through the Higher Education Act of 1965 for over a half century.
If your preference is to adopt someone else’s personal “interpretation” of (“separation of church and state”) itself being someone’s “interpretation” of another phrase (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”) that has zero bearing on school choice given 50 years of funding of Title IV financial aid, rather than do a little research and understand the original intent of our Constitution then, by all means, ignore the facts and LISTEN to (obey) the diehard traditionalists who support and will codify a monolithic, unaccountable and failing money pit rather than any sort of competition (based of the metric of student performance) to their gravy train and ‘control’. I’m sure the left leaning unions supporting these state schools who’s goal (rather than ‘teaching’) appear to be the maintenance of a docile people who accept anything their ‘betters’ tell them to accept, will appreciate not having to compete with better run, more cost effective (almost half the price) alternatives who provide a better product (higher test scores) and outcome for your children. If you don’t accept these sub-par government schools then you must be some fanatical misogynist Druid, perhaps kick defenseless puppies when no one’s watching or secretly support Vlad Putin.