All those efforts and wasted funding, well in excess of a billion dollars, lead to this point. The KC School District cannot educate its students.
One solution that is being proposed is school vouchers. That concept appears to be gaining ground but there are a number of issues, such as, will schools be allowed to voluntarily accept those vouchers, or will they be required to accept those vouchers. Many advocates of vouchers feel that schools should be required to accept vouchered students, after all, it’s just shifting tax dollars from one pocket to another.
Another issue is whether vouchers could be used to send students to private and/or religious schools? The proponents of vouchers want that ability as well. But what of the right of the schools to choose curriculum according to their religious beliefs and doctrine? Would those rights now be controlled by the state since the state is now funding those private/religious schools via vouchers? And, what if some parent objects to having their child being taught a doctrine that is in conflict with that taught at home? Whose rights take precedent?
All those are good questions. But there is another hurdle that appears to be overlooked by the media…the Blaine Amendment.
The term Blaine Amendment refers to either a failed federal constitutional amendment or actual constitutional provisions that exist in 38 of the 50 state constitutions in the United States both of which forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation.The proposed text was:
- “No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations.”
Missouri is one of those 38 states that has adopted a form of the Blaine Amendment.
The Blaine Amendment was a topic on a local KC radio show recently. Evidently that caught the attention of the KC Star and this article appeared on Sunday, March 4, 2012.
The full-sized public school bus, yellow and rumbling, pulled up at the front door of St. James Catholic School right on time as usual.“There’s my bus,” 8-year-old Matthew Nelson said.He meant his bus; 40 feet long. Just for him.He had slipped out of art class at his school in Liberty with a gentle wave to the teacher and her whispered “ Bye, Matthew.” He’d climbed the steps to the main hall with his second-grade teacher and seen the sun-brightened bus outside the glass doors ahead.He hates missing art. He’d rather remain in his familiar school than make this daily sojourn in his Catholic uniform to spend an hour in his neighborhood public school.But if he’s going to get the federally funded special education services promised him, he has to go to the public school to get them.Missouri’s Constitution won’t let any publicly funded teacher come to him.Religious education backers are making a hard run this year at trying to force a statewide election to ask voters to eliminate Missouri’s “Blaine Amendment,” which blocks all manner of public funding from any religious-based entity.It is a politically volatile battle, with many public education backers fearing that a change in the constitution would open the door to private school vouchers.…“Public money should not be used to support private schools that are not accountable to the public,” Missouri School Boards’ Association spokesman Brent Ghan said.
And that is the core issue…”public” control of private education.
My Grandson and Granddaughter attend a private, Christian school. The school has a religious curriculum. The school provides what they call a “classical” education that includes subjects such as teaching Latin and Greek. When they have a school student performance, some songs are sung in Latin. It’s not a Catholic school either.
The discussion has arisen in the school whether to accept state education vouchers if, at some future time, students from the failed Kansas City School District want to transfer to this private school. The school does NOT want the state finger in their pie.
Fortunately for them, a form of the Blaine Amendment exists in Missouri. State judges have been very free in their interpretation of that law in St. Louis, so I would expect it’s only a matter of time before a KC judge decides the Blaine Amendment doesn’t apply in KC either. Some organizations and Missouri legislators are proposing a repeal of that state provision.
As it currently stands, I would not want my Grandkid’s school to accept vouchers. State educators would want strings attached to acceptance any such vouchers and with those strings will come requirements contrary to the school’s principles and doctrines. With or without a Blaine Amendment, the state must not be allowed to manage private education. As it stands now, the state cannot competently manage the state’s public schools.
The only solution that I can see and accept would be for the vouchers to be issued to parents for them to use as they, the parents, see fit. Realistically, I have no real hope of that form of voucher being passed. It would block those educational tyrants from controlling the private schools. Those at the state level cannot allow that much freedom to the parents in Missouri. Why, the next thing you know, schools will refuse to follow the state dictates on some important educational issue such as teaching self-esteem, or, or, sex education, or, or following state or federal mandated lunch menus.
No, the repeal of the Blaine Amendment would not be that great of a benefit to the state. Let’s keep it.