Advocates for charter schools are divided on a bid to launch the first openly religious charter school in the U.S., The Hill reported.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City applied to open the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, but the application has yet to be approved by the Oklahoma charter school board, scheduled to discuss the proposal Tuesday.
Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, said in a statement to The Hill: "We don't think that you can have a religious charter school in place because charter schools are public schools and public schools cannot teach religion. So right now, as public schools, this is not a door that can be opened."
Nicole Garnett, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has advised the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, told the Hill that "Charter schools are called public schools by every state charter school law. I don't deny that," but added, "For the purposes of the Constitution, the federal Constitution, it doesn't matter what the law calls them."
Garnett said: "The question is, are they government actors, are they state actors, or are they acting on behalf of the government? Or are they private actors? They can be called public schools and still be private actors for purposes of the Constitution, and, in my view, that's what they are."
Neil McCluskey, director of the CATO Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, said: "Undoubtedly, even if it were approved in one state, it would then be involved in a long court battle. So probably the real lifting of the lid on religious charter schools wouldn't come until not only one state approved it, but it made it through court.
"Charter schools are already more or less unfair competition for private schools. That's not the intent. I don't think people intended charter schools to do that. But many people see charter schools as private schools, only they don't have to pay tuition for them. And so a private school is at a huge competitive disadvantage because they don't get government money, usually."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.