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Can religion, charter schools coexist?

Number of 'religious charter schools' continues to grow — along with criticism

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  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 17, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    Religion in one form or another is pretty much the reason most charter schools exist at all. It's because uncontrolled education gets in the way of the ideology.

  • TheOcean SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Dec. 17, 2011 3:00 p.m.

    The Utah State Constitution contains:

    Article 1, Section 4 "No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment."

    Article 3, Section 4 "The Legislature shall make laws for the establishment and maintenance of a system of public schools, which shall be open to all the children of the State and be free from sectarian control."

    Can religion and charters coexist in Utah according to our Utah State Constitution? I don't know. Legal and constitutional experts--what do you think?

  • echo Austin, TX
    Dec. 17, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    Test scores show that the kids were being educated better than they were before. Less freedom, not more. Sad.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 17, 2011 6:04 p.m.

    RE: TheOcean

    Cleary the constitution of Utah needs to be rewritten.

    For utha to become a state it was FORCED to make onerous additions to the constitution in regards to religion, due to fears other had of the mormons.

    It is time to change that, to get it more in line with the federal constitution.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 17, 2011 7:34 p.m.

    We, as a society, have stated that having an educated populace is so important that we have deemed it proper for government for government to pay for it. The money is for educating kids. It is not collected to provide a jobs program for teachers and educrats.

    With that in mind, if the 3Rs are being taught and the kids can meet certain levels on standardized tests If they are passing the tests, the state, by definition, is getting their money's worth.

    It shouldn't matter what else the kids are taught as long as the kids are taught the 3Rs. If the school sends the kids home after teaching the 3Rs, no one would care and the public would have gotten its money's worth. But if the kids come back in 5 minutes later and are taught religion or politics or whatever, who is harmed? The state isn't paying any extra money for teachers, materials, utilities, etc.. since it already paid a set/fixed amount per pupil. It isn't supporting religion or any one religion over any other viewpoint.

    That Minnesota school was wronged by the ACLU.

    Vouchers are the best way to help poor kids escape poverty.

  • Rita52 ANN ARBOR, MI
    Dec. 18, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    I see two possibilities with this. Either the schools who have a religious background refuse public funding, or we as a society redefine the separation of church and state. The Constitution clearly states that "Congress shall make no law" regarding the establishment of religion. Various Supreme Courts have broadened that simple statement to mean the states can have nothing to do with religion, or support it in any way. The states are not mentioned in the religion clause, leading one to believe that they are free to decide how they will work out religion/state interactions. Whatever powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the states or the people as a whole. The states should be able to decide for themselves how they spend their money.
    That being said, it is probably more feasible for religious schools to not accept public funding. The people will have to take back control of their children's education, and fund it themselves. We have allowed a bloated federal bureaucracy to co-opt our responsibilities as parents and citizens.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    @lds4gaymarriage:

    The issue isn't whether religion can be taught, it can. The question is over one specific religious view being taught in favor of another, whether one set of religious scripture is discussed instead of another. And even then, it is a matter of whether that discussion be supported by federal or state funding.

    In France, where Islamic dress was banned in schools, it wasn't because the French Government hated the faith of Muslims, it was to protect children from those students who would discriminate against those who chose not to wear the clothing.

    The same thing goes for specific religious doctrine and prayer in our schools. Nothing stops a student or group of students praying on their own. The problem is when students feel undue pressure from other students or the administration to pray or are subjected to religious education they may not want.

    Besides, where public schools are concerned, I would much rather trust the religious education of my children to certified Institute teachers, at a time when my children know enough to ask meaningful questions and make decisions on their own. A charter school, like any other public school, is not that place.

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 8:57 a.m.

    Public schools all over this nation were establish to educate a citizenry in the skills necessary for communication and commerce. Religion may have had a minimal role in early schools with reciting the Lord's prayer or prayers at football games and graduation. But in a country as diverse as our country is, it was seen as prudent to let religion be left to the churches and not to the schools. But even now there can be after school clubs or release time devoted to religion.

    I feel that advocating Charter Schools organized around religion if going in the wrong direction. While religion can be a great personal experience, it seems to divide us as a society. The state does not need to support anything that will divide our society. People are still free to get their religion at church or at home, we don't need to make it a part of our education system as well.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Dec. 18, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    Echo, you need to check your information. Charter schools do not do better than our traditional public schools. Look at the test scores again, please. Of the top 100 elementary schools only 8 were charter schools and only one was in the top ten. Charter schools are an unproven "reform" idea which is slowly draining funds out of our traditional public schools which outperform them and serve the most needy children.

  • DBeck Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    Utah is like Brigadoon. Every 100 years Utah awakes from a deep sleep and lives life for 'one day,' before going back to sleep for another 100 years. We're not nearly as engaged with the world as we pretend to be. This story cycled months ago but this is all there is to report on charters. Hardly. Where are the stories of charter schools doing great stuff? Yes, Virginia, unlike someone else, they do exist! I'm talking about schools daily doing what they promised they'd do in their charter application for less overall funding than their local district averages. And don't ask the UEA about this; Ask the districts and charters directly what their per pupil spending happens to be to get an accurate apples-to-apples comparison. Then condescend to visit one and see what goes on. lds4gaymarriage really nailed it for anyone who works with and studies issues outside of our fair state. And are there issues to be dealt with in charters? Definitely. Some of the same ones that need to be dealt with in traditional districts. Oh, well, back to sleep Brigadoon.

  • michael cooper south jordan, utah
    Dec. 18, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    Bruce Cooper states that he likes the separation of church and state, but that compromises can be reached. I totally disagree. That is why the Constitution says what is says, there is no compromise. Americans seem to spend more time trying to find ways around the law than abiding by the law.
    Why is it that the right wing, conservatives, ultra-conservatives, religious zealouts and tea party followers are in support of charter schools,(and said goverment funding) and the violation of the separation of church and state, yet want to hold other consitutional admendments to the letter of the law. Are you listening NRA members and "more guns are better advocates?"
    The hipocracy never seems to end. The right wing supports what they want for personal agendas, without regard for right and wrong.

  • wrz Salt Lake, UTah
    Dec. 18, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    @lds4gaymarriage:

    "It shouldn't matter what else the kids are taught as long as the kids are taught the 3Rs."

    Supposing they are taught that it's alright to strap bombs to their bodies and set them off in a crowded public square where you might find infidels. Would that be OK?

    "But if the kids come back in 5 minutes later and are taught religion or politics or whatever, who is harmed?"

    If religion is being taught there is harm... because the US Constitution and Supreme Court decisions clearly show that no money, facilities, resources, etc., are to be used to foster religion of any sort.

    "The state isn't paying any extra money for teachers, materials, utilities, etc.. since it already paid a set/fixed amount per pupil."

    The fixed amount per pupal is computed using all costs including materials, utilities, etc. So any use would be fostering religion

    That Minnesota school was wronged by the ACLU.

    "Vouchers are the best way to help poor kids escape poverty."

    Vouchers should never be used to fund private schools. There are public schools for the kids to attend. Private schools should be funded by private money.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    So why are tax dollars allowed anywhere near a school that enforce Islamic dress codes and is named after a guy who is famous for conquering Christians?

    That is purely religious indoctrination, and is clearly prohibited by the ban on state endorsed religions (via tax dollars).

    I am glad they do a better job educating students, but let them pay for it on their own, just like Catholic schools or even LDS seminaries.

    However, in the PC world of "tolerance and diversity" it is clear that one religion is untouchable while others are anathema.

    Merry Christmas in schools, anyone?

  • Mr. Bean Salt Lake, UTah
    Dec. 18, 2011 11:59 a.m.

    @Rita52:

    "... or we as a society redefine the separation of church and state."

    Redefinition would require amending the US Constitution... which ain't gonna happen. Especially regarding religion.

    "The states are not mentioned in the religion clause, leading one to believe that they are free to decide how they will work out religion/state interactions."

    Not so. The US Constitution's Supremacy Clause means no state laws can trump federal laws or the US Constitution.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    @lds4gaymarriage:

    "Vouchers are the best way to help poor kids escape poverty."

    This is what is called a "Red Herring" argument. It is a logical fallacy.

    The issue under discussion is religious influence in charter schools. By introducing economics into your answer, you are attempting to distract the readers and keep people from thinking about the Constitutional issues at hand, and instead focus on something entirely unrelated.

    In essence, you are stating because some poor students benefit from charter schools, other violations should be overlooked----ends justifying the means.

  • Florien Wineriter Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    I hope this not a feature story designed to soften up the opposition to teaching sectarian religious idealogy in Utah's public schools. There already exists excessive bulling against not-mormon students in Utah's public schools with out using tax dollars to make it worse. Thanks to the founders of the Utah Constituion we allow broad religious EDCATION but not religious INDOCTRINATION.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    Springvillepoet
    The issue isn't whether religion can be taught, it can. The question is over one specific religious view being taught in favor of another, whether one set of religious scripture is discussed instead of another. And even then, it is a matter of whether that discussion be supported by federal or state funding.

    LDS4
    I agree 100%. My point is that any school, even home schools, should get state funds if the kids pass standardized tests in required subjects. If those Minn. kids did their school work and then at the end of the school day they all went outside and then those who choose to stay longer could come back inside and be instructed in Islam, I see no problem. The state got its money's worth and no religion was taught during school hours.

    squirt 
    Of the top 100 elementary schools only 8 were charter schools and only one was in the top ten.

    LDS4
    If 8% of schools were Charter Schools, you're right. If less than 8% are, they're statistically superior. Compare the charter schools with other schools in the same local area. If the public schools were great, charter schools wouldn't exist.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    LDS4
    "But if the kids come back in 5 minutes later and are taught religion or politics or whatever, who is harmed?"

    wrz
    If religion is being taught there is harm... because the US Constitution and Supreme Court decisions clearly show that no money, facilities, resources, etc., are to be used to foster religion of any sort...The fixed amount per pupal is computed using all costs including materials, utilities, etc. So any use would be fostering religion.

    LDS4
    No state money would be used. If the state gives $5000/kid (for teachers, materials, utilities, etc.. ) to educate them, that money was all used, definitionally, to educate them. If the kids leave after their secular education, then you're fine. If they stay for religious instruction, the extra cost for teachers and utilities is not born by the state, but by the school. The state money was already spent for the secular education.

    wrz
    Vouchers should never be used to fund private schools. There are public schools for the kids to attend. Private schools should be funded by private money.

    LDS4
    The purpose of the money is to give kids a secular education. My above scenario does that.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    Springvillepoet

    The issue under discussion is religious influence in charter schools. By introducing economics into your answer, you are attempting to distract the readers and keep people from thinking about the Constitutional issues at hand, and instead focus on something entirely unrelated.

    In essence, you are stating because some poor students benefit from charter schools, other violations should be overlooked----ends justifying the means.

    LDS4
    As I mentioned in my previous posts, schools that educate kids to pass standard tests in required subjects are, by definition, doing what the state asks for the money they receive. If a school teaches those subjects from 9 to 3 and allows the kids to leave, you're happy. If the kids all leave and then comeback in 5 min. later during NON-school hours to have an hour of after-school Study Hall or an hour of religious training, no public funds are being used (since they were used from 9-3 during school hours) nor is any student forced into taking religion. They could leave at 3 or stay for Study Hall.

    If no public funds are used to teach religion, there is no constitutional issue at hand.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 4:05 p.m.

    I know you have heard it before, but we must remind ourselves of this fundamental truth: religion poisons everything, including education.

  • wrz Salt Lake, UTah
    Dec. 18, 2011 5:05 p.m.

    lds4gaymarriage:

    "If they stay for religious instruction, the extra cost for teachers and utilities is not born by the state, but by the school."

    In which case the lights and heat would have to be turned off. And the pencils and paper would have to lie, unused.

    "The state money was already spent for the secular education."

    Money is fungible (look it up). Thus, money paid for salaries, supplies, utilities, etc., for the school is not identifiable to any expense element or parts of expense elements.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 5:22 p.m.

    RE: The Atheist

    That is NOT a fundamental truth, but a reckless, ignorant and dangerous opinion, the kind that breeds hate, starts with the removal any mention of religion or the mention of God in the public square (such as a school) and leads to terrible events like the holocaust.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    If the ACLU is against it, there must be some good to it, no matter what it is. They have brought more harm to the educational system than any other entity, including unions and bad teachers. They began suing schools in the late 60's and things have gone downhill since then.

    I believe the fallacy/misunderstanding of "separation of church and state" has been carried too far. One of the reasons that Europe is going under culturally is because they have become a completely secular society and have lost their moral bearings. At least in America we have some semblance of religion and that's what makes us great.

    If the school was doing such a good job, I think it could have been allowed to continue. But it sounds like they cut off their nose to spite their face.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 7:01 p.m.

    We need to get away from this charter school movement. The reality is charter schools are a way for parents to create a faux private school without paying the associated fees. They pretend to be private schools, but at the expense of the public. The reality is that most students are best served by their neighborhood schools. The children learn to associate and get along with their neighbors. They have the best extracurricular opportunities.

    Neighborhood public schools struggle because the community doesn't get behind them as they used to in the past. If you want to fix your neighborhood schools, get involved. Attend the sporting events. Go to the fine arts' performances. Congratulate your neighborhood kids for the academic successes. We all want to place blame somewhere, but it's about time we all step up and support the schools where we live.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    Wrz - "If they stay for religious instruction, the extra cost for teachers and utilities is not born by the state, but by the school."

    In which case the lights and heat would have to be turned off. And the pencils and paper would have to lie, unused.

    KJK I think you and lds4gaymarriage are talking past each other. From his/her statement you quote above, it appears to me that he/she is assuming, correctly or not, that the school building is owned by a church or other private group. If the state pays the group a fixed amount per child to cover the cost of teachers, books, school supplies, utilities, etc... for providing education to the state mandated levels, then any money the school spends on teachers, books, school supplies, utilities, etc...come directly out of the group's pocket and not the state's. Since the group pays for the utilities, teachers, etc... itself, the added costs for staying open longer increases the group's cost/expenses. The state pays for nothing additional and therefore there is no church/state conflict.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 18, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    The truth,

    Some opinions correspond with reality. Mine does. Yours does not.

    Enough said.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    Dec. 18, 2011 9:40 p.m.

    Obviously, it all depends on "what the meaning of 'is' is". Mr. Lin wants a wantered down national religion which is basically secularist in nature. Mr. Cooper from Fordham wants the neighborhood to support religion. The cusp of the argument lies in whether TiZA is a legitimate school or just a front for an agenda. From the information given, it is hard to tell.

  • wrz Salt Lake, UTah
    Dec. 18, 2011 11:09 p.m.

    @Monsieur le prof:

    "If the school was doing such a good job, I think it could have been allowed to continue."

    If the school is teaching religion it should not be allowed to continue. Why? Because it violates the 1st Article of the Amendments to the US Constitution.

    And the school can't announce the end of the regular school day then commence religious instruction, using the same facility, teachers, supplies, etc. Furthermore, wearing the required Muslim garb would also be a violation... just as much as Christian praying in school.

    @Kevin J. Kirkham:

    "If the state pays the group a fixed amount per child to cover the cost of teachers, books, school supplies, utilities, etc..."

    The 'fixed' amount has to be derived in some manner. It's not just picked out of thin air. Someone, somehow developed the fixed amount by adding up the components of running a typical school.

    The only way to run a charter school and keep it from even the appearance of violating church/state separation is to exclude all religious teaching at the school... before, during, and after so-called regular class... or close it down.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 8:07 a.m.

    wrz
    @Kevin J. Kirkham: "If the state pays the group a fixed amount per child to cover the cost of teachers, books, school supplies, utilities, etc..."

    The 'fixed' amount has to be derived in some manner. It's not just picked out of thin air. Someone, somehow developed the fixed amount by adding up the components of running a typical school.

    KJK - The fixed amount would be what the state pays every district for each student in the district. All districts are funded on a per pupil basis. Public schools hate private schools and home schoolers since they decrease their funding if the kids aren't attending public school. Some districts in other parts of the country give privately sponsored charter schools 80% of the per pupil funding the district receives.

    If a charter school can educate kids to the state specs for less money that the state gives them, then the charter school is making money. If the school uses that money to pay for teachers, utilities, materials, etc... to teach religion, no problem. It's using its own profits to do so. The state still gets an educated kid, perhaps only at 80% of the traditional cost.

  • Furry1993 Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 9:46 a.m.

    To TheOcean | 3:00 p.m. Dec. 17, 2011

    Can religion and charters coexist in Utah according to our Utah State Constitution? I don't know. Legal and constitutional experts--what do you think?

    --------------------------

    Sure they can, PROVIDED that the charter schools are treated as private schools and no public money goes to their support.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    Religious charter schools are a thinly veiled attempt to suck public resources from society, and in that way it is like a parasite. If religions cannot support themselves from their own "customers", then they have no business being subsidized with tax dollars of any kind.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 12:13 p.m.

    the truth wrote:

    "RE: The Atheist

    That is NOT a fundamental truth, but a reckless, ignorant and dangerous opinion, the kind that breeds hate, starts with the removal any mention of religion or the mention of God in the public square (such as a school) and leads to terrible events like the holocaust."

    DN monitors, since when are you in the habit of allowing such abusive language to be used toward another commenter?

    The truth,

    Please backup your assertion. Show us where Hitler and Nazism removed mention of religion from the public/government. And further show how the holocaust was the result. Please be sure to explain Hitler's frequent Biblical references, and his calling the Jews "Christ-killers."

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Dec. 19, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    Sounds like the school was simply more accommodating than most to children's religious practices, such as prayer and Ramadan. That is something that a Muslim student would be entitled to sue a school to allow.

    Franbkly, this did not hurt anyone. The interest of the state and the public is ensuring that children receive an education so they can be salf-supporting members of society. NOT to socialize them OUT of their religion. School vouchers should be allowed so these issues don't even come up, in the same way someone who has earned VA education benefits can use them aty BYU or even a ministerial seminary.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 4:13 p.m.

    RE: lds4gaymarriage

    YOu say:

    "If religion is being taught there is harm... because the US Constitution and Supreme Court decisions clearly show that no money, facilities, resources, etc., are to be used to foster religion of any sort...The fixed amount per pupal is computed using all costs including materials, utilities, etc. So any use would be fostering religion."

    I can not find that such and idea anywhere in the constitution.

    The 1st admendment is brief only says that CONGRESS can not play favorites or disfavorites to any church or religious organzation, nor can it in religios worship,

    further more religios free speech is also protected.

    IF the supreme court has gone further they are wrong.

    As I have stated before the state constitution must need be rewritten, as additional onerous restrictions were written in the state constitution out peoples fears of the mormons.

    There was never to be any enmity between government and religion,
    that is a modern notion by secuilarists and progressivies to remove God from the schools,
    and schools are not federally controlled nor should they be.