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Court's voucher ruling opens door to funding religious extremists (gag alert)
St Paul Pioneer (de)Press ^ | 7/7/02 | BILL MITTLEFEHLDT

Posted on 07/11/2002 7:54:40 AM PDT by Valin

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court made history in upholding the constitutionality of laws that provide public funding for private school vouchers. In a 5-4 ruling, the court determined that vouchers do not violate the original intent of the founders' principle of separation of church and state — one of the legacies that we celebrate this Fourth of July weekend.

The majority ruled that parents of kids receiving vouchers will be free to choose the school that receives the voucher; it expands their individual right to an education. GOP leaders in Washington and Minnesota were delighted with the court's ruling. Others thought the full price of the voucher vote may too high.

The first sign of irrational exuberance came from House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, who has already introduced legislation to provide $40 million in federal revenue to fund vouchers for up to 8,000 kids in the District of Columbia schools. He neglected to mention where he was going to find the tax revenue to pay for this new religious entitlement.

And in Minnesota's Legislature, Rep. Tony Kielkucki, R-Lester Prairie, has already promised to secure funding to underwrite this new civil right — the right to a religious education. But citizens have begun asking questions about the impact of separate religious education on the institutional fabric of our civic life.

History suggests that we should restrain this GOP exuberance. Much of their enthusiasm comes from the hope that changing the institutional configuration of our secular institutions will lend more order, discipline and direction to our culture.

Religious hatred and intolerance inspired the al-Qaida terrorist attacks. Our nation's founders knew that a young nation, filled with immigrants of different nationalities, languages and religions, could easily pull apart. This is why public schools were designed as non-sectarian institutions — to unite "we the people."

Public schools teach the content and rules needed for success in America's culture of religiously diverse communities. The separation of church and state is a cornerstone of our democratic republic.

Recent demographic shifts indicate that we need the unifying force of our schools more than ever. Changes in family structure, technology, immigration and our workplace have made public schools essential to our cultural unity.

Since we are at war with religiously intolerant groups whose piety has become predatory, it would be poor timing to use public funds for religious schools. One can imagine what such religious entitlement might look like in a few years: the American Orthodox School for a Reunited Israel, the American al-Qaida Military Institute, the White Christian School for Justice, the American Moslem School of Jihad.

The federal debt is currently more than $6 trillion dollars, which may slow taxpayer enthusiasm for public funding of religious schools. Congress just increased the federal debt ceiling to $6.4 trillion. The increase was needed because we have added $48 billion to the Defense Department expenditures for the war on (religious) terror, and we will spend another $37 billion on Homeland Security.

The combined effects of the recession and the Sept. 11 attacks, the tax cuts and rebates have turned our federal projected surplus into a projected deficit of $150 billion. In Minnesota, the Department of Finance is warning of a possible $2.5 billion shortfall in the next biennium. Taxpayers may not want to fund private schools with new taxes.

Since Minnesota's Republican Party has a platform that favors cutting both taxes and spending, one can see how tricky this issue will be for voters in the next election. In November, Minnesota citizens will vote for candidates and funding plans for vouchers. Political leaders may suggest taxing worship services, circumcisions, marriages, confessions and even prayer to generate more revenues. Others will urge us to cut spending on environment, transportation or public schools. But the cost to our civic unity and tolerance will be significant.

It seems peculiar that an activist court should endorse funding private religious school as we wage — and finance — a war on terror inspired by religious intolerance. In time of war, we need to pull together. The war on terror and our budget problems should help citizens see the full price for funding private school vouchers.

Mittlefehldt, 55, of Anoka, is one of eight Pioneer Press Community Columnists for 2002. He is a social studies teacher at Anoka High School. E-mail him at pjwd@msn.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: ussupremecourt; vouchers

1 posted on 07/11/2002 7:54:40 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin
I did read somewhere that Islamic schools are expecting big enrollment boosts if voucher programs take off. Just what we need.
2 posted on 07/11/2002 8:03:02 AM PDT by triplejake
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To: Valin
This is why public schools were designed as non-sectarian institutions — to unite "we the people."

This statement demonstrates the ignorance of the author. The only "public schools" that were available when this country were founded were usually provided by the local church in the community.

3 posted on 07/11/2002 8:19:21 AM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: VRWCmember
I think the writer is talking about the modern public school system.
IE John Dewey etc.
4 posted on 07/11/2002 8:26:04 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin
Thanks for the gag alert! But, I think it should have been a double-fisted gag alert.

Public schools teach the content and rules needed for success in America's culture of religiously diverse communities

And this is supposed to be a defense? This is exactly what is wrong with the public schools! They are supposed to teach readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, period! They were not/should not be the institutions that define what success is. Since the public schools DON'T do the basics noted above, people don't want their kids going there. They do want their children receiving a quality education. But, the public schools are not focused on a quality education, they are focused on a PC-based, watered-down, ultra-leftist indoctrination.

The separation of church and state is a cornerstone of our democratic republic.

NO, JACKA$$, freedom is the cornerstone of our republic. And, I would assume that this puke supports a woman's right to choose to have or not have a child, what's the difference when the SAME MOTHER wants to choose the school that a child goes to? Shows how corrupt this argument is --morally, as well as intellectually.

He is a social studies teacher at Anoka High School

I guess he wasn't smart enough to take a calculus or Diffy-Q course? Or, even a logic course for that matter.

This is the real problem with these leftist and moral relativists...they have equate my son's teacher with Osama Bin Laden's goons. My son goes to a private school. It also has a religious influence. I can assure this MORON that my son is not being taught to "hate the infidel". Besides, my son's teacher is black so there goes his "White Christian School for Justice" comment, as well. In addition, the reason why I send my son to this school is not because they teach him to hate, it is because they ACTUALLY TEACH HIM!

5 posted on 07/11/2002 8:29:59 AM PDT by mattdono
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To: Valin
BILL MITTLEFEHLDT is a social studies teacher at Anoka High School E-mail him at pjwd@msn.com. Where does one begin?

...this new civil right — the right to a religious education...

Maybe this government school indoctrinator should learn some actual history instead of the "social studies" he himself was indoctrinated with. Of course the reason he calls a religious education a "new civil right" is that he thinks that rights come from the government.

The article is nothing but intolerant, incoherent, mean-spirited bigotry.

Cordially,

6 posted on 07/11/2002 8:31:42 AM PDT by Diamond
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To: Diamond
The article is nothing but intolerant, incoherent, mean-spirited bigotry.

Well he is a lefty, so what do you except? It is all they know. Sorry you for got FEAR.

7 posted on 07/11/2002 8:36:37 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin
Public schools teach the content and rules needed for success in America's culture of religiously diverse communities.

If this were true it would be great, Except that they don't. What they teach is the least common denominator of leftist political indoctrination. And even that is done with a minimum of efficiency.

Recent demographic shifts indicate that we need the unifying force of our schools more than ever. Changes in family structure, technology, immigration and our workplace have made public schools essential to our cultural unity.

At present, the only unifying force in our schools is that they are failing to teach everyone, equally. Yeah! An entire generation of equal opportunity failure. I feel so much better.

Mittlefehldt, 55, of Anoka, is one of eight Pioneer Press Community Columnists for 2002. He is a social studies teacher at Anoka High School.

Well that explains it, he's an imbecile with an agenda. I just wish he would learn to keep his mouth shut about issues he clearly doesn't understand.

8 posted on 07/11/2002 8:43:52 AM PDT by tcostell
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To: Valin
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children, forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. A child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

U.S. Supreme Court - Pierce v Society of Sisters (1925)

Cordially,

9 posted on 07/11/2002 8:45:08 AM PDT by Diamond
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To: Diamond
We learn something new every day! Thanks.
10 posted on 07/11/2002 8:46:54 AM PDT by Valin
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To: mattdono
This is the real problem with these leftist and moral relativists...they have equate my son's teacher with Osama Bin Laden's goons. My son goes to a private school. It also has a religious influence.

Those moral relativists would have you think on the one hand that the Christian school I send my son to is a danger to the republic, while on the other hand telling us that we only need to listen to and negotiate with Osama bin Laden to deal with the terrorism issue. The truly live in another universe from most Americans.

11 posted on 07/11/2002 8:56:50 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: Diamond
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children, forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. A child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

Wonderful quote.

12 posted on 07/11/2002 8:57:44 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: Valin
The public school system is pro choice, EXCEPT when it come to where you can go to school.
13 posted on 07/11/2002 8:58:24 AM PDT by Puppage
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To: Valin
The first sign of irrational exuberance came from House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, who has already introduced legislation to provide $40 million in federal revenue to fund vouchers for up to 8,000 kids in the District of Columbia schools.

Yeah, it's truly irrational to want to help 8,000 kids get more than a 4th grade education in 12 years.

14 posted on 07/11/2002 8:58:49 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: Valin
The federal debt is currently more than $6 trillion dollars, which may slow taxpayer enthusiasm for public funding of religious schools.

It's just taking money from one school and sending it to another. The total amount stays the same.

15 posted on 07/11/2002 9:00:32 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: Valin
But the cost to our civic unity and tolerance will be significant.

Why is it so hard to 'tolerate' someone sending their kids to a religious school if they want? The good 'ole public school system, with its tremendous record to success(!) will always be there for those who don't want.

16 posted on 07/11/2002 9:03:16 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: Valin
We already fund religious extremists - Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakhan, etc. I'm sure they get lots of government $$$.
17 posted on 07/11/2002 9:26:35 AM PDT by PortugeeJoe
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To: VRWCmember
"The only "public schools" that were available when this country were founded were usually provided by the local church in the community."

Hm. From John Adams's A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765:

But the wisdom and benevolence of our fathers rested not here. They made an early provision by law, that every town consisting of so many families, should be always furnished with a grammar school. They made it a crime for such a town to be destitute of a grammar schoolmaster for a few months, and subjected it to a heavy penalty. So that the education of all ranks of people was made the care and expense of the public, in a manner that I believe has been unknown to any other people ancient or modern.

So John Adams, in 1765, maintained not only that grammar schools in every sizable community had been established by his time, but that the "care and expense" of such schools were charged to the public.

But yet, see what the results of this were:

The consequences of these establishments we see and feel every day. A native of America who cannot read and write is as rare an appearance as a Jacobite or a Roman Catholic, that is, as rare as a comet or an earthquake. It has been observed, that we are all of us lawyers, divines, politicians, and philosophers. And I have good authorities to say, that all candid foreigners who have passed through this country, and conversed freely with all sorts of people here, will allow, that they have never seen so much knowledge and civility among the common people in any part of the world.How far have we fallen from this standard?! And, if all the most motivated people, and their resources, leave public schools for private ones, then what will happen to the part of the population that doesn't leave? Perhaps something like this:

It is true, there has been among us a party for some years, consisting chiefly not of the descendants of the first settlers of this country, but of high churchmen and high statesmen imported since, who affect to censure this provision for the education of our youth as a needless expense, and an imposition upon the rich in favor of the poor,

Gee, have we heard this last on FR before?

and as an institution productive of idleness and vain speculation among the people, whose time and attention, it is said, ought to be devoted to labor, and not to public affairs, or to examination into the conduct of their superiors. And certain officers of the crown, and certain other missionaries of ignorance, foppery, servility, and slavery, have been most inclined to countenance and increase the same party. Be it remembered, however, that liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood. And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys, and trustees. And the preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country. It is even of more consequence to the rich themselves, and to their posterity. The only question is, whether it is a public emolument; and if it is, the rich ought undoubtedly to contribute, in the same proportion as to all other public burdens, — that is, in proportion to their wealth, which is secured by public expenses.

So, says John Adams, the reason you are rich is not only because of your own efforts, but because America affords you the liberty to pursue wealth. Is that not true enough? Try being rich on your own efforts in Russia, or Indonesia, or Iraq, or any country where the main qualifications for gaining wealth is having relatives in government.

And then, says John Adams, that liberty is dependent on having a populace educated well enought that it can enquire into the actions of it's rulers and judge them, and that finally has the wisdom to either replace the rulers, or the form of government itself, until liberty is once again preserved.

And, so, in the end, it is necessary for the preservation of liberty to ensure that all people are educated, and it is therefore justifiable to tax the wealthy to do so.

So I too criticize the state of public education in some areas of this country (I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and our schools are in pretty good shape). But to me, the remedy is not to withdraw from them, but instead to engage them and restore them to what they should be. School boards are elected every year in this country.

18 posted on 07/11/2002 9:30:46 AM PDT by RonF
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To: tcostell
"If this were true it would be great, Except that they don't. What they teach is the least common denominator of leftist political indoctrination. And even that is done with a minimum of efficiency.

At present, the only unifying force in our schools is that they are failing to teach everyone, equally. Yeah! An entire generation of equal opportunity failure. I feel so much better."

Nonsense! You pick out a few examples of the PC disease in the public schools and say that "they are failing to teach everyone"? That's way too broad a generalization. I certainly agree that there's some real hare-brained ideas, and teachers trying to implement them, in some public schools. But there's a lot of kids who get a fine education in public schools. Now, if you want the public schools to teach religion as well, then you have a problem. But to paint all the public schools in the U.S.A. as teaching leftist propoganda, as opposed to a few, is not supported by anything I've seen.
19 posted on 07/11/2002 9:34:29 AM PDT by RonF
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To: Valin
This isn't a "gag alert." This is a significant possibility.
20 posted on 07/11/2002 9:40:15 AM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: RonF
But there's a lot of kids who get a fine education in public schools. Now, if you want the public schools to teach religion as well, then you have a problem. But to paint all the public schools in the U.S.A. as teaching leftist propoganda, as opposed to a few, is not supported by anything I've seen.

I agree entirely. The problem with the pro-voucher argument is that it generalizes from a very limited database - the so-called "failing inner city public schools" and applies those problems to *every* public school in the US.

The other problem is with the use of the word "choice." People have had a choice between public & private education since the US Supreme Court ruled in the 1920s that states couldn't make laws banning private schools. Since then, the dividing line is money.

The voucher question from a taxpayer's standpoint is this: why should taxpayers who live in areas which *do* support good public schools have to pay extra taxes to support *both* bad public schools in other districts, AND voucher programs as well? Especially when those taxpayers will NEVER see a dime of voucher money, as the programs are means-tested?

21 posted on 07/11/2002 9:45:08 AM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: RonF
You pick out a few examples of the PC disease in the public schools and say that "they are failing to teach everyone"? That's way too broad a generalization.

Sell it on the Democratic Underground, no one is falling for a red-herring like that here. The public school system is an abject failure. Even by department of education's watered down standards, nearly 10% of all public schools are failing. Take a look at :

http://fyi.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/07/02/failing.schools.ap/index.html

The only people who claim anything else are delusional, or have an agenda. Which is it for you?

The supreme court introduced competition that's all. Parents decide what the children learn, as they should.

22 posted on 07/11/2002 9:58:40 AM PDT by tcostell
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To: mattdono
I emailed this a$$ clown that pretty much outlined my points from above, but I was much more "scholarly" (meaning: I didn't call him a Jacka$$, even though he is).

Here was his response...

Matt, Sounds like you are looking for a more tribal situation where there is no change between generations. What was good for ma and pa should be good for today. Good luck. Try 1900. I am sure you'd have less stress.
Bill Mittlefehldt

23 posted on 07/11/2002 11:01:30 AM PDT by mattdono
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To: valkyrieanne; RonF
The problem with the pro-voucher argument is that it generalizes from a very limited database - the so-called "failing inner city public schools" and applies those problems to *every* public school in the US.

Not true. The voucher movement makes no such generalization. It just wants parents who do have rotten public schools (a great, great number in this nation - particularly in the inner cities) to have the freedom to actually get more than a 4th grade education for their kids - and without the violence, drugs, profanity, homosexual prosyletization that are often present as well. The fact that inner-city parents are crying for vouchers, and the left won't give them to them is one of the cruelest and most arrogant things I've seen from the left in many years (well, after partial birth abortion, that is). Nobody is telling you to take your kids out of public school. They're just asking for a smidgeon of freedom to do so themselves.

24 posted on 07/12/2002 5:32:04 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: tcostell; RonF
The public school system is an abject failure. Even by department of education's watered down standards, nearly 10% of all public schools are failing.

And about 85% are mediocre. The religious schools, on average, in our area (a well-off middle class suburb in New Jersey) have students who consistently do far better on standardized tests, are not allowed to shout out profanity in the hallways, are scrutinized carefully for drug use, have teachers who make 1/2 the pay of that at public schools, but are much happier, inculcate strong values, do not promulgate homosexual prosyletization or far-out sex education, strongly involve the parents in the schools, have motivated, knowledgeable teachers (who can be fired if necessary), allow for a non-PC reading of American and world history, and subsist on about 1/3 the number of dollars per student as for the public schools. It's not hard to see why so many even upper middle class parents in our area are moving out of the public schools and into the religious ones.

25 posted on 07/12/2002 5:40:09 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: yendu bwam
Please see my Free Republic Home page for my experience with the New York State Public school system. What is happening in our town this year, is what will be happen in suburban school districts across the country in the next few years if the NEA and the department of education get their way.

Vouchers for the poor aren't a perfect solution, it should be vouchers for anyone. Now that the constitutionality of the issue has been put to bed, I'm sure that there is only a few lawsuits and several hundred million dollars in NEA money standing in the way.

I believe it is in the best interests of this country for the polulation to be educated, and I have no problem with the public funding of education. So long as it is done in a way that provides the buyer with the most choice, and therefore the most value for the dollar.

26 posted on 07/12/2002 7:21:13 AM PDT by tcostell
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To: tcostell
So long as it is done in a way that provides the buyer with the most choice, and therefore the most value for the dollar.

I read it. Unbelievable. I agree entirely with what you say. Good luck in Westchester. I know it well.

27 posted on 07/12/2002 8:08:56 AM PDT by yendu bwam
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To: RonF
"Nonsense! You pick out a few examples of the PC disease in the public schools and say that "they are failing to teach everyone"? That's way too broad a generalization. I certainly agree that there's some real hare-brained ideas, and teachers trying to implement them, in some public schools. But there's a lot of kids who get a fine education in public schools. Now, if you want the public schools to teach religion as well, then you have a problem. But to paint all the public schools in the U.S.A. as teaching leftist propoganda, as opposed to a few, is not supported by anything I've seen."

It would be a major improvement if they would just stop teaching anti-religion...

*************************************

The ideal solution would be to reform public education and return it to its roots which were teaching the basic education and skills needed by all Americans. Unfortunately that is just an ideal.

In the real world, the incredible dominance of liberals in the education establishment makes achieving this ideal impossible.

Maybe it will be possible in a hundred years if the liberals love affair with abortion results in only conservatives having babies, but I doubt it.

28 posted on 07/12/2002 9:17:27 AM PDT by PortugeeJoe
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To: RonF
.. there's a lot of kids who get a fine education in public schools. Now, if you want the public schools to teach religion as well, then you have a problem.

Yes, the problem is that the kind of speech engaged in by John Adams undercuts your use of his quote, because his kind of talk is no longer allowed in government schools except where it is regarded as historical anachronism, devoid of meaning:

"Be it remembered, however, that liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood. And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers."

Can you imgagine a govenment school teacher telling children that that they are created? That liberty is derived from their Maker? That they have knowledge because it is given to them by their Creator? That they have divine, inalienable rights because those rights come from the Creator? Come now, that would be regarded as teaching religion, wouldn't it?

Cordially,

29 posted on 07/12/2002 10:31:43 AM PDT by Diamond
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