Tax money for Christian homeschoolers: A terrible new “school choice” law in Nevada will allow state funds to be used to pay for religious education, including Christian homeschooling.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a measure into law Tuesday that will allow the parents of students to apply state funds to pay for private schools or other goods and services related to education in the state, including the funding of religious education at private schools and in homes.
The bill, passed on a strict party-line vote through the Republican-controlled legislature, implements an extreme form of school choice via Education Savings Accounts. The legislation received significant support from the education foundation created by former Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
Under the new law, low-income families or students with disabilities can receive the same amount the state spends per public school student, or an average of about $5,700, while middle- and upper-income families will receive slightly less, about $5,100 a year.
Sarah Jones, writing for Americans United For Separation of Church and State, notes:
… the bill raises serious constitutional concerns. It clearly states that parents may use the saving accounts to fund religious education, at private schools and in home schools. That appears to violate a provision of the state’s Constitution that says, “No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.”
Assemblyman Elliot T. Anderson, a Las Vegas Democrat, said the new program could face a legal challenge because the state constitution prevents “public funds of any kind or character whatever” spent for sectarian purposes.
In fact, Democrats, teachers unions, public school employees, parents, and other concerned citizens are alarmed by the legislation, saying that the new law is the first step toward dismantling the nation’s public schools.
In what can only be described as an understatement, Ruben Murillo Jr., president of the Nevada State Education Association, said:
We’re very concerned that it would divert funds from public education … for students to attend private schools.
The legislation is terrible. Starting next school year, any parent in Nevada can pull a child from the state’s public schools and take tax dollars with them. This will dramatically weaken public schools, while lining the pockets of incompetent religious charlatans and allowing homeschooling parents to spend tax dollars on materials promoting creationism, Christian revisionist history, and other religious propaganda disguised as learning material.
Bottom line: Nevada’s new “school choice” law is an unconstitutional abomination that undermines public schools while forcing taxpayers to fund religious institutions and religious propaganda.
Let’s hope the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United For Separation of Church and State, American Humanist Association, or some similar organization challenges this destructive and unconstitutional law.
(H/T Sarah Jones)