Another Surprise in the Defense Bill
The New York Sun [ hat tip to Corrente]is reporting today that the Republicans buried in the Defense Bill what amounts to the largest school voucher program in the country for students affected by Katrina.
President Bush will soon sign into law what is being described as the largest school voucher program in American history, providing about $1.6 billion in federal money for students affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Under the law, the money can go to parochial schools. That provision has won praise from school choice advocates and some religious leaders while attracting criticism from the National Education Association, a union that represents teachers who work at mainly government-run schools.
not all relgious groups are happy
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, also denounced the legislation, saying the bill "does not provide appropriate firewalls against taxpayer funding of religious instruction and proselytizing, and sets a disturbing precedent for the future."
He [Milton Friedman] called the program awaiting Mr. Bush's signature "monumental," and said it will be remembered as part of Mr. Bush's "two-term approach to trying to change the way we do education in America."
What is truly worrisome is that this is a substantial victory for the religous right. Improving school choice is not of itself a bad idea but is that what this is really all about?
I think this is but a first step in what is a long fight by the relgious right against public education. If one reads material from the far christian right it becomes clear that there is a substantail movement among them to eliminate public education and replace it with religious schools.
Unsurprisingly, Reconstructionists seek to abolish public schools, which they see as a critical component in the promotion of a secular world view. It is this secular world view with which they declare themselves to be at war. "Until the vast majority of Christians pull their children out of the public schools," writes Gary North, "there will be no possibility of creating a theocratic republic."Link
The warnings are not just from the secular front.Dr Bruce Prescott Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, President of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is also concerned:
Those who doubt there are links between Southern Baptists and theocratic Christian Reconstructionists should look inside the front cover of the December 2004 issue of the Chalcedon Report. There the chief publishing house for Reconstructionist thought, Chalcedon, announces that it has published Bruce Shortt's book, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. Bruce Shortt, along with T.C. Pinckney, leads the movement against public schools within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Now they are taking on the public schools. When they are done, we will have a system of religious schools and home schools, paid-for at public expense, that will dutifully indoctrinate children in their theocratic ways.link