June 9, 2023 1:58 pm

New Breed of Charter School Pushes Limits on Separation of Church, State

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By Valerie Strauss


The religious right scored a win this week when Oklahoma’s virtual charter school board approved the opening of the nation’s first religious charter school, which, if it is actually allowed to open as planned in 2024 for grades K-12, will weave Catholic doctrine into every single subject that students take. Given that charter schools are publicly funded, and public schools aren’t supposed to provide religious education (although they can teach about religion), you may wonder how this school could be given permission to exist.

The decision is no surprise to people watching the way some charter schools run by right-wing organizations have been operating in recent years, pushing the boundaries of the separation of church and state embedded in the U.S. Constitution even as Supreme Court decisions have chipped away at it. Details can be found in a new report entitled “A Sharp Turn Right: A New Breed of Charter Schools Delivers the Conservative Agenda.” (See full report below.) It was written by the nonprofit Network for Public Education, a group that advocates for traditional public school districts and opposes charter schools, and has written reports in recent years chronicling waste and abuse of public funding of charter schools.

You can read Valerie Strauss’ piece in the Washington Post here.