Myths and Facts About School Vouchers

MYTH #7: Concerns About Cleveland Vouchers' Effect on Church-State Separation are Irrelevant Since Parents are the Ones Who Decide Where the Voucher Goes-Not State Officials. Besides, Religious Schools Don't Really Push Their Faith on Students

FACT: The Cleveland voucher program is extraordinarily skewed to religious schools, and most of those schools weave religious views into subject matter.

In all, 47 of the 50 private schools that participate in the Cleveland voucher program are religious.30 Parents who don't want their children to have a religiously based education, in reality, have virtually no "choice." In fact, in its December 2000 ruling, the appeals court offered a vivid profile of the participating religious schools, noting that most of them "believe in interweaving religious beliefs with secular subjects" such as science and language arts.31

Additionally, no measures have been taken to guarantee that students may opt out of religious activities in these schools that are contrary to their own or their families' beliefs.32 The appeals court also offered examples of the goals that drive most of these religious schools. One religious school declared in a parental handbook that "the one cardinal objective of education to which all others point is to develop devotion to God," while another school's handbook required students to "pledge allegiance to the Christian flag..."33

Some parents agree with these sentiments, and they have every right to choose these schools for their children. But they don't have the right to expect taxpayers to pay the bill. In its decision striking down the voucher program, the appeals court based its ruling on the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.34 This 'wall' has helped ensure America's unique status as a pluralistic society in which people of all faiths live side by side without the sectarian strife that other nations experience.

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