The Colorado Court voted down a bill that would allocate public funding to private and nonsecular schools, ruling it unconstitutional Monday. This ruling will cut funding for 500 scholarships of $4,570 to private and secular schools in Douglas County among others as reported by the New York Times. That is 2.4 million dollars in tax payer revenue in only one of many instances state wide that would have been allocated to private and secular schools rather than the public.
The state’s Supreme Court ruled against the district’s voucher program, saying it violated a plank of the state constitution that explicitly prevents public money from going to schools “controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise when only 10% of children in America attend private schools, as reported by the Huffington Post. This bill is exactly what a majority conservative school board and a group backed by the billionaire conservative Koch brothers has been lobbying for however. The conservatives want your tax dollar paying for their children to attend private schools.
“This stark constitutional provision makes one thing clear,” Nancy E. Rice, Colorado’s chief justice, wrote in the court’s opinion. “A school district may not aid religious schools.” This justice has it right when the constitution clearly prohibits making any law respecting an establishment of religion, of which the majority of private schools are. The first amendment makes many civil and religious liberties clear including the freedoms of speech and the press which allow this news to be delivered.
There are 47.7 billion tax payer dollars funded to private schools nationwide as seen in the U.S. Department of Education assessment of the 04-05 school year. That is a lot of money that could be used for computers and books public schools are missing out on. In fact that is 8.9% of every tax dollar put towards education. That might seem like a small percentage of funding, but it is downright preposterous when it’s unconstitutional. This is a terrible burden on the tax payer dollar and public school funding nationwide. Other states could learn a valuable lesson from Colorado. When many students in our schools are barely passing their classes 8.9% is a colossal amount!
This is an incredible win for the constitution considering it calls for a separation of church and state while 68.3% of private schools are religious according to the most recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Education. “We’re incredibly gratified that the state’s Supreme Court recognized that public dollars should stay in public schools,” said Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association.
Featured image from umdstudentgovernment.com