Judge halts vouchers in Colorado

Days before the start of school, a Colorado judge has blocked a voucher plan. Denver District Judge Michael A. Martinez issued a permanent injunction of the Douglas County district’s pilot Choice Scholarship Program.

“The prospect of having millions of dollars of public school funding diverted to private schools, many of which are religious and lie outside of the Douglas County School District, creates a sufficient basis to establish standing for taxpayers seeking to ensure lawful spending of these funds,” Martinez wrote in his ruling.

The pilot program allows up to 500 students already enrolled in Douglas County public schools to receive up to $4,575 toward tuition at a private school.  The district already had made the first payment to parents of 265 of 304 students who’d applied.


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  1. Robert Wright says:

    That’s sad. I think vouchers are the way to go.

    It seems like every charter school is for disadvantaged students. That’s why they’re approved. The regular schools want to be rid of the disadvantaged because they’re harder to teach.

    A voucher system gives a choice for everyone. It unleashes true competition and brings the wisdom of the marketplace to education.

    Anybody remember what the U.S. Postal Service was like before Fed/Ex?

  2. I’m actually hugely supportive of charter schools, but I (a Colorado resident with a sister sending her kids to a terrific charter school in Douglas County) am happy to see this voucher plan blocked. In its essence, it gives taxpayer money to parents to use in schools both secular and religious. Parents who want to give their children religious educations are welcome to fund that THEMSELVES. It sets a very bad precedent to use taxpayer money to support religious education. For instance, who would be OK with tax dollars being used to help support a madrassa teaching Wahhabism? There’s no way to stop that once you open the gate to your local parochial school getting tax dollars.

  3. Uh, Catherine? You really ought to learn a bit about the situation before you start painting dramatic pictures of impending catastrophe.

    In fact, tax dollars have been used to fund religious education for, oh, about sixty years. The program’s popularly known as the “G.I. Bill” and I don’t believe it’s produced too many Wahhabi terrorists.

    So the precedent for funding religions education with tax dollars is there as is evidence that such a program isn’t going to turn into a subsidy for Al Queda.

  4. If you don’t want to admit the difference between funding adults to go to reputable universities and using taxpayer dollars to support schools for children that are proven indoctrinators of terrorists, we’re not going to get very far.

  5. *We* were never going to get anywhere since your only objection to vouchers consists of assuming that enough in the way of parents will want to send their kids to schools that exist as training grounds for murderous terrorists to make them viable.

    Oh, and just so we’ve got the proper context for your ridiculous objection, there’s nothing to stop those same parents from sending their kids to *private* Wahhabi madrassas. We’ve got lots of private schools, even religious private schools, in the country so you must know of at least several Wahhabi maddrassas that boast of martyred terrorists among their graduates, right?

    Or will this phenomenon only spring into existence when vouchers are available to pay to the madrassas?

  6. Ah, but there is something stopping parents from sending their children to such schools…finances. When the government starts supporting a school, it makes it a viable option for parents without a lot of extra money. Yes, some parents will send their children to a madrassa – we’re not geographically immune from such a phenomena. For an example of a charter school that was using public funds apparently to proselytize Islam, please look up Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Minnesota.
    Nor is that my only objection to vouchers. Do we want the government financing inculcation of religious views of any kind in children? Children are very easy to indoctrinate. Rather than support vouchers, I would shorten the public school day and limit school subjects to purely secular instruction (for example, schools really don’t need to get involved in the evolution v. creation fight if they just teach the scientific method and proven facts and move on). Then parents will have time (and hopefully more post-tax income) to provide supplemental religious instruction without raising the specter of public funds being used to teach worldviews that are anathema to other taxpayers.

  7. J. Remarque says:

    Catherine, I often see objections like yours from desperate anti-voucher activists…but where has this objection been for the past 40 years? For decades, hundreds of thousands of Americans have used Pell Grants (and other forms of federal assistance, including government-subsidized loans) to attend Notre Dame, Villanova, Yeshiva, and other religiously-affiliated universities, plus a wide range of seminaries. But you’ll be starting a massive Congressional letter-writing campaign and organizing a march for the separation of church and state in education any day now, right?

    (If your real objection is to Catholic schools, please just say so. Don’t hide behind imaginary madrassas.)

  8. I have no objection to Catholic schools, madrassas, or private schools operated by FLDS members. But when you force taxpayer money to go to any such institution, it becomes everybody’s business what the institution teaches. Separation of church and state PROTECTS churches, and that’s why I’ll continue to fight for it.
    And I’ll repeat what I said earlier: adults going to reputable universities are not the same thing as children being taught a sectarian worldview by a school that couldn’t exist without tax monies.

  9. J. Remarque says:

    So you “fight for” separation of church and state…except when the students are adults and the schools are “reputable,” whatever that means.

    I don’t see you articulating an actual principle here. I see you liking one thing and not liking another, and granting an exception to the thing you like. You can claim you “fight for” separation of church and state, but if seminaries and religious colleges being “reputable” is all it takes for you to waive your commitment to church/state separation, I’d argue that your commitment isn’t very strong.

    (You’re probably right to suggest that a major voucher economy would result in the creation of cheeseball schools trying to profit, but that’s an argument you’ll want to separate from the church/state thing if you want to advance it effectively.)

  10. Catherine’s true colors are shown by the comment linking Catholic schools (which are actually *HIGHLY* secularized these days) with madrassahs and the FLDS. Sadly, anti-Catholic bigotry is one of the few remaining socially acceptable prejudices in America these days 🙁

    Why is it that people who would never dream of making racist comments in a public forum feel that it’s okay to bash Catholicism?

  11. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Isn’t dogmatic secularism a doctrine too? Why should impressionable kids be exposed to it CONTRARY to their parents wishes? At least when the parents choose a religious school, they’re making a choice.

    And modern secularism is actually a fairly new development, and hasn’t even been proven to make better citizens than the old fashioned “judeo-christian-lite” stuff that the public schools used to teach. So why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize it?

  12. For four million American kids the lack of government money isn’t an impediment at all to attendance at religious schools. Got a list of Wahabbi madrassas in operation enrolling to some number of those four million kids? I don’t need many examples of genuine, extremist Muslim schools but a handful would go a long way towards endowing your concerns with some credibility.

    As for whether we want government financing used to inculcate children with religious or, let’s not be too narrow-minded here, any other beliefs, you’re a little late to the party.

    A significant part of the purpose of government-funded elementary and secondary education has always been the inculcation of the right views in children. It’s sort of a “he who pays the piper” situation. You obviously understand since you’d like to indoctrinate kids with your views although you do have the presence of mind to cloak your conceit with the threadbare claim of objectivity. In fact, all you’re interested in, like so many others, is usurping the authority of the parents so you can impose your views on those vulnerable kids.

    I take a much less sophisticated and basic position.

    I figure that the people who are willing to kill or die to protect any particular child are probably also rather more inclined to see to other aspects of that child’s welfare. Including their education. What those parents may lack in specific expertise with regards to education is, I believe, amply offset by a sense of responsibility that springs from that willingness to kill or die to protect that child. If they want their child to be taught that the Earth is six thousand years old and all the animals we see around us were once crammed into Noah’s ridiculous ark then I say the burden is on anyone who wants to deprive them of that right to prove that they ought to have the power to do so.

    Sneering condescension, sadly for you, doesn’t quality as a compelling rationale to deprive parents of their parental rights.

  13. The doctrine of separation of church and state is to protect religion, not to hinder it.

    I see nothing wrong with tax dollars going to a religious school, so long as going to that school is by parental choice. In fact, I think we’d have a more moral, more spiritual society.

    The separation of church and state is violated only if you remove the element of choice. Choice is freedom. Freedom of religion means to have choice. Stacking the cards in favor of a secular education impinges on the freedom of religion.

    Our Founding Fathers had in mind freedom for religion, not freedom from religion.