The Douglas County School District has tried to implement a school voucher program under the guise of “School Choice”. Unfortunately they somehow have failed to read the Constitution of Colorado or have clearly intended to violate it. I have had a letter to the editor of the Highlands Ranch Herald published and spoke to the DC school board about the issue on August 17th, 2011.
I’m going to use this page to reference my letter and my speech for those interested, and to provide other information as I see it.
First and foremost, the Constitution of the State of Colorado
Section 7. Aid to private schools, churches, sectarian purpose, forbidden.
Neither the general assembly, nor any county, city, town, township, school district or other public corporation, shall ever make any appropriation, or pay from any public fund or moneys whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian society, or for any sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money or other personal property, ever be made by the state, or any such public corporation to any church, or for any sectarian purpose.
My letter to the editor:
My speech to the School Board
Now for some things I keep hearing, and why they don’t make any sense:
1. Religious schools offer the choice to not attend the “religious” classes.
Answer : It isn’t about choices made within the school. It is about public money going to private secular, especially religious, institutions.
2. When children are bullied, parents must have an option, or choice, of another school.
Answer: Douglas County does have school choice. There is an open enrollment plan, you can go to a private school (but on your own dime), or you can home school. In fact, my family has twice made a choice of what school to attend to avoid bullying situations. Whether bullying, or another reason you are not getting a good education, there is choice and the opportunity to find a better option.
3. Since I pay the taxes I should get to choose where my child goes to school.
Answer: This is ignoring the whole point of public education which, in my opinion, is to ensure we have an educated citizenry. If everyone in the middle and upper classes went to private schools and took the money, we wouldn’t have a well educated citizenry because the lower classes wouldn’t be able to provide enough in tax to provide it for themselves(yikes, I sound like a liberal!) I’m going to be a bit facetious here – If I pay taxes, and I’m not happy with how good our military is (BTW, I am, they are the best), then should I be able to get a voucher from the military to buy my own guns, bombs, missiles, etc?
4. But what about Federal law. How can the Colorado Constitution overrule it?
The U.S. Constitution says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”
So, there can be no law at the Federal level regarding an establishment of religion, e.g. “a religious school”
With that said, the Colorado Constitution expressly forbids making “any appropriation, or pay from any public fund or moneys whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian society, or for any sectarian purpose”
That pretty much sums it up. I recall when someone first said that it was allowed in Indiana – I pulled up the Indiana Constitution and found a similar statement in it that basically said you can’t. You can read it too if you want to find it.
If a school could provide clear evidence that they have no religious or sectarian purpose, I would not take the school board to task, though I might talk to a Congressman about changing the Constitution (maybe, because it probably would be incredibly rare).
Answer: If you have others let me know and I’ll post them. I still haven’t heard a valid argument from the opposition.