It’s not surprising McDonald would take that line. Across the country, Catholic schools are being shuttered as more and more parents realize that the public schools are doing a good job and that the money they’re spending on Catholic school tuition might be better socked away in a college fund.
Church officials are essentially seeking a taxpayer-funded bailout for their flagging school system – a system that even many church members have decided they don’t want to patronize. One wonders if McDonald has ever heard of the law of supply and demand?
The issue of accountability is also interesting. My guess is that, given the religious make-up of Tennessee, many of the schools taking part in a voucher plan will be aligned with fundamentalist Christianity. What type of science will these schools teach? What type of history? How will the students who attend them perform on standardized tests? Will they be able to get into colleges?
But the elephant in the room is Islamic schools. Will the state fund those as well with its vouchers?
Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, was asked about this recently by the Marshall Tribune. One gets the impression that Harwell was a bit uncomfortable answering the question.
‘I think it would be a constitutional issue,’ Harwell said. She added, ‘It is one that we would have to weigh very carefully as a legislature.’
Still fumbling, Harwell then said, ‘I think that, in itself, causes real alarm in the halls of the legislature. Having said that, I think we will seriously look at vouchers…. All those concerns are valid ones, legitimate ones. There is no easy answer.’
Alarm bells? Do you think? This is the state, after all, where residents actually went to court to try to stop a mosque from opening in Murfreesboro.
And don’t think this is a theoretical matter. Two Islamic schools in Washington, D.C., have received taxpayer funding under House Speaker John Boehner’s federally funded voucher program for the District of Columbia. Courts have been clear on this matter: Benefits that are extended to one religion must be made available to all.
Harwell says they is no ‘easy answer’ to problems like this. Sure there is: Don’t pass a voucher plan. Focus funding on public schools. If some of the public schools are experiencing problems, give them the support and resources they need to improve.
The Associated Press published a story today detailing how, in 2007, undercover New York Police Department officers investigated the Muslim community in Newark, N.J., producing a secret report profiling mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim-owned businesses and restaurants.
The story, based on a copy of the 60-page report obtained by AP, concludes that the surveillance project was undertaken despite “no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior. It was a guide to Newark’s Muslims.”
Besides being significant on its own, that conclusion contradicts claims by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year about how the NYPD operates.
In August, after AP published the first story in its series documenting the NYPD’s extensive surveillance and investigation of Muslims, Bloomberg denied that the NYPD launched investigations based on religion in the absence of suspicion of a crime.
“If there are threats or leads to follow, then the NYPD’s job is to do it. The law is pretty clear about what’s the requirement, and I think they follow the law,” Bloomberg said at an Aug. 25 news conference, the local news site DNAInfo noted at the time. “We don’t stop to think about the religion. We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.”