OPINION: Vouchers Work at College Level. Why Not K-12?

From Patrick McIlheran writing in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Write about school choice and you soon hear from a specific set of e-mailers who say, as did one fellow writing the other day, “There is no way you will convince me that tax money should ever be spent on religious education. Separation of church and state? What don’t you understand about that?”
One wonders just what such people imagine choice schools in Milwaukee to be — your average Pakistani madrassa, perhaps?
What I understand is that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has twice ruled that the program is perfectly constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to contradict the state justices, when given a chance, and ruled that an identical school choice program in Ohio broke no church-state barriers because it’s a perfectly secular purpose for governments to give parents money to educate kids even if parents on their own choose a school that mentions God.
You’d think three Supreme Court rulings would settle it, but no.
Consider, then, another way taxpayers help educate people. Take a moderate-income youth graduating from a typical secular high school. She will, utterly without controversy, head for college with the help of several taxpayer subsidized programs — Pell Grants, tax credits, subsidized loans or subsidized
And right now she can take those taxpayer dollars to a religious college.
She can take her Pell Grant, a completely free subsidy, to Marquette University, where the classrooms all have crucifixes. She can take it to Calvin College or Baylor University or Notre Dame or Loma Linda. A kid can get up to $4,731 per year, paid for by you and me, to get a splendidly Jewish higher education at Yeshiva University.
The federal aid doesn’t pay just for secular bits and nothing religious. The schools I mentioned, and dozens more, all make a point of saying that their faith is woven inextricably in everything they teach. One studies, say, medicine at Brigham Young because one wants to learn not just medicine but, as the school puts it, “the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any education is inadequate which does not emphasize that His is the only name given under heaven whereby mankind can be saved.” Your tax dollars are helping young people learn just that. They’ve been doing it for years.
Why does this not violate the separation of church and state? Simple: Taxpayers provide the money but do not specify which religion, or any religion, that students may use it to study. The reason for such a separation is to prevent the state from favoring one particular religion. If the state doesn’t say what kind of religion you use the aid on (or that you use it on education that includes religion at all), then there is no danger of the establishment of a religion. The Constitution is not offended.
Read more here: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/122216419.html


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