May 31, 2024

Kevin Welner: What Would Religious Charter Schools Mean for Public Education?

Published by

Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, wrote a piece for Education Week considering the proposed Catholic Church charter school in Oklahoma and the Supreme Court decisions that led to it, and what the next steps could mean.


Since charters are privately operated yet are statutorily part of the public school system, courts are split on the issue of whether or when charter schools should be legally treated as public. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to directly address this question. But the Oklahoma charter lawsuits may well serve as its vehicle for weighing in, which alarms those who have long argued that charters are public.

To put it bluntly, the current U.S. Supreme Court has shown an inclination to make highly political decisions, even if those decisions fly in the face of established facts and precedent. The smart money is therefore on the court continuing to find discrimination when governmental actions effectively restrain religious practices, no matter the countervailing interests. States, the highest court is likely to rule, must allow church-run charters to exist, to proselytize, to teach their religious beliefs as truth, and even to engage in faith-based discrimination against students.

The problem then facing charter school advocates is that few Democrats will back a reform that claims a right to use public funding to discriminate. And this will greatly degrade support in key jurisdictions. California houses the nation’s largest number of charter schools. Other blue states like New York, Oregon, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Colorado have been among the jurisdictions that have ardently embraced charters.

At this point, as we watch the charter school sector transmogrifying into a type of voucher, all the while acknowledging charters’ history of denied access, we may mourn what could have been. But that sense of regret that charters never lived up to their potential should not translate into a nostalgic defense of what charters have truly become. Discrimination and proselytizing on the taxpayer dime will never be acceptable. It is time for public schooling to turn elsewhere for solutions to challenges.

Read the full article here.

Share this:

Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.

Find the original post here:

View original post