The Supreme Court has tossed a political football into the Texas legislature. By holding that state constitutions cannot bar public money from going to religious schools, the Court has blocked any constitutional arguments about educational vouchers. Importantly, however, the Court noted that states are never required to use public money for private schooling.
So now it’s up to the state legislatures, operating with no constitutional guardrails, other than the requirement that all private schools—including religious ones—be treated equally. Supporters of public education need to be prepared to speak out about bills that will be introduced in the next session. We can no longer argue that such bills are unconstitutional. We must argue that they are unwise. We can also argue that they are unfair, unless the bills include certain restrictions.
Any private school that wants to accept public money, directly or indirectly, should be required to commit to accept any student who applies without regard to race, national origin, special needs, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, religion, grade level performance or English language proficiency. They should not be allowed to impose any requirement on parents to participate or “volunteer” for any school activity. They should have to comply with Chapter 37 when taking disciplinary action with students. The students should be required to take the STAAR test and the school should be held accountable for the results.
After all, those are the rules that apply to the public school. Those are the rules that go with the receipt of tax dollars. There is not a private school in Texas that could, or would, agree to all those conditions. That’s why they should not be receiving tax dollars meant to serve the public schools.
DAWG BONE: WANT TO TAKE TAX MONEY TO OPERATE YOUR SCHOOL? PLAY BY THE SAME RULES.