Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Alaska Could See Taxpayer Money Going to Religious Schools

Alaska’s Constitution currently requires that, when it comes to public education, taxpayer funds cannot benefit private or religious schools. Makes perfect sense. Public funds should benefit the public, not help schools that thrive on donors and indoctrination.

However, a new bill could eliminate that provision, opening the door to public funding of religious education. Senate Joint Resolution No. 9 would remove the clause forbidding the funding of private and religious schools:

The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

This is a disaster in the making… yet Senate President Charlie Huggins (R-Obviously) has a huge smile on his face:

My assumption is we have the votes,” Huggins, R-Wasilla and a measure co-sponsor, said without being specific. “We’re going to be good. I’m fully confident.”

The proposed amendment would allow public money to be spent on private and religious schooling. It would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate and the House, or 14 of 20 senators and 27 of 40 representatives. If passed by the Legislature, it would go to voters in the November general election.

Incredibly, when asked which 14 senators were on his side, Huggins wouldn’t answer the question because “he didn’t want to ‘hold people accountable publicly.’”

Opponents are arguing that the public school system as it stands is too corrupt, too beholden to outside interests, and too cost inefficient. But that’s all the more reason for these legislators to focus their efforts on fixing the current system, not bailing on it so that religion can flourish. Hell, if I ran a religious school, I wouldn’t want the public funds anyway. I wouldn’t want the government having any say into what I could or couldn’t teach. The state’s Constitution, as it stands, protects religious schools just fine.

If this law were to pass, church/state separation groups would pounce on it immediately. There’s just no good reason for public funds to be appropriated from public schools to religious ones.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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