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?"
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.