Monday, December 13, 2004

Heading for the Supreme Court?

It will take a few years, but it looks increasingly likely that Florida's financial support of Christian schools will have to be judged by the Supreme Court.

Florida already provides voucher money for students who attend parochial schools, in violation of the state's constitutional clause against public funding "directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution." A district appellate court ruled that the voucher programs must end. The state appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

And now this. The state will soon provide money for pre-K programs with "Christ-centered" curriculum. Florida Senate President Tom Lee, a Republican with a temporary conscience, spoke out against this, only to realize that in today's political climate, that may not be the smartest political move. He retracted his oppositional statement within hours.

Christian schools are fine. They should thrive and prosper -- but not with public funds. They are, and should remain, private institutions. I think before the decade is out, the Supreme Court will make a similar statement. Let's hope so.


Blogger Daryl Cobranchi said...

May I ask "Why"? Why cannot parents use vouchers wherever they choose? Isn't the point of a voucher system that public schools will be forced to improve if they face competition from the private sector?

2:45 AM  
Blogger Daryl Cobranchi said...

And the Blaine Amendment in the state constitution is an abomination. Just shy of the racist language that Alabama voted to keep in theirs.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Jenny D. said...

But didn't the US Supreme Court already decide this in the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which was the Cleveland voucher case? The court ruled 5-4. To quote Eduwonk:

The majority decision emphasized the valid non-religious purpose of the Cleveland voucher program; that funds were directed to religious schools only through "true private choice" of parents and their children; and the variety of other, non-religious, options -- including public charter schools -- available to Cleveland children.

If the US Supreme Court gets this, they might be required to rule that Florida's constitution is in disagreement with the US Constitution. Can they do that?

9:14 AM  
Blogger Daryl Cobranchi said...

The SCOTUS ruled that a voucher program did not necessarily violate the US Constitution. AFAIK, it has never ruled on the constitutionality of the Blaine amendments. I'm sure they would pass muster, though, regardless of their discriminatory history.

1:05 PM  

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