Constitution Is Clear: No State Money for Religious Schools

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

By Bob Schmitz

Photo of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

(Note: the following appeared as the ‘Letter of the Day’ in the Thursday, October 28th edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. –ed.)

Tuesday’s commentary “TiZA’s success should not be punished” by two representatives of the Minnesota NAACP overlooks one salient fact: TiZA is a religious school collecting tax dollars in violation of the Minnesota Constitution.

In addition, it is in a position to cherry-pick a student population designed to bolster its test scores. Ask it to take in any child coming through the door from the neighborhood, and I am willing to wager that those test scores will drop. It is not a public school and should not be funded by the taxpayers. I have been a member of NAACP for many years and will not renew my membership. The writers present a specious argument in defense of a school that is breaking the law. I applaud the Minnesota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for taking TiZA to task. The Minnesota Department of Education is also to be commended for finally exercising its authority over charter schools. The 30 or so religion-sponsored charters mentioned in the commentary should also be investigated. Article XIII, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution states: “In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught.” The charter school law was not intended to be a cover for religious institutions wanting to secure state funding. Charter schools, such as TiZA, that have violated the Constitution while receiving our tax dollars should be required to reimburse the state for all funds received to date.

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