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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

First the Catholics, now the Jews: More religious charters in OK?

Oklahoma has approved the first religious charter school in the nation, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. The online school will embed religious teaching in the curriculum -- if it survives legal challenges.

Some charter advocates aren't happy about the argument that a religious charter school is constitutional because charters are essentially private schools, reports Sarah Mervosh in the New York Times. "The school’s supporters say that excluding religious groups amounts to discrimination: Why can other private organizations run charter schools, but not a church or a synagogue?"

A North Carolina charter school is fighting for the right to require girls to wear dresses. Photo: Charter Day School

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a leading voice for charters, says charters are public and therefore can't teach religion.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a North Carolina case involving a charter school that "argued it could require girls to wear skirts — a violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, according to plaintiffs — because the school was less like a public school and more like a private school fulfilling a contract with the state," writes Mervosh.

If St. Isidore is allowed to open, the next step could be a Jewish charter school in Oklahoma, writes Linda Jacobson on The 74.

Peter Deutsch, who founded a network of Hebrew-language charter schools in Florida, is considering the idea.

A former Democratic congressman, Deutsch founded Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Florida, in 2007. Now a network of six schools, Ben Gamla teaches Hebrew language, culture and history, but not Judaism. According to Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director of the Florida Charter School Alliance, the enrollment includes "diverse" students from non-Jewish families, including black and Caribbean students.

1 Comment

Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Jun 19, 2023

Parent Performance Contracting* (PPC) elides First Amendment "establishment clause" issues.

PPC offers greater performance and financial accountability than tuition vouchers or charter schools.

PPC minimizes oversight costs.

PPC addresses the argument that parent SES dominates school factors.

PPC requires no additional funds.

PPC requires no new administrative machinery.

PPC takes no revenues from established school districts.

PPC maximizes parents' options.

PPC minimizes the threat to the autonomy of independent and parochial schools that vouchers create.

Parent Performance Contracting

Your State legislature mandates that all school districts in your State must hire parents on personal service contracts to provide for their [the parents'] children's education if (a) the parents apply for the cntract and (b) the children score at or above…

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