Check out the new article in Americans United’s Church & State Magazine about the fight against school vouchers! DVAU Vice-President Janice Rael ‘s letter to the NJ Assembly and Budget Committees is one of the articles in the new June 2013 issue!
New Jersey legislators should block Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to force a private school voucher plan into the state budget, Americans United has advised.
Janice Rael, vice-president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United, submitted written testimony to the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees on April 9. She urged the panels to reject an effort by Christie to add a $2 million voucher program to the state’s 2014 budget.
Christie is attempting to insert the plan into the budget because legislators in New Jersey have been reluctant to pass vouchers. Rael said lawmakers must resist this effort to do an end run around the democratic process.
“The inclusion of this type of scholarship program into the budget is no more than a work-around to enact a piece of legislation that has otherwise stalled out in the New Jersey Legislature,” Rael observed. “Pushing a version of the Opportunity Scholarship Act through the budget is not only inappropriate, but also unconstitutional. The introduction of such a substantive provision violates the New Jersey Constitution’s single object mandate.”
Rael also argued that the plan violates portions of the New Jersey Constitution that bar funding of religious entities.
“Because most parochial schools either cannot or do not wish to separate the religious components of the education they offer from the academic programs, these schools must be funded by voluntary contributions, not taxation,” wrote Rael.
Rael told committee members that the voucher plan would foster discrimination at taxpayer expense.
“A religious school can limit admissions not just to co-religionists, but also to only those students – and the parents of students – who follow its teachings and tenets,” observed the AU activist. “Religious schools can expel a student for refusing to take a religious oath; for being gay, or having gay parents; for being pregnant, or having a parent who is unwed and pregnant. They can segregate students or apply different policies based on gender…. Taxpayer money should not fund programs that harm the fundamental civil rights of students and teachers.”
Read more about voucher issues nationwide here: via N.J. Legislators Urged To Oppose Christie’s School Voucher Scheme | Americans United.