Republicans in Congress and statehouses around the country are slashing education funding, eliminating teaching jobs, and abolishing collective bargaining agreements as a means of controlling spending and dealing with alleged budget deficits. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has demonized public school teachers as overpaid babysitters who are the sole cause of the state’s budget deficit and his tactics are being used in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and other states with Republican governors and majorities in state legislatures.
Meanwhile, John Boehner continues his biblical assault on women’s rights instead of job creation like Republicans promised during the midterm elections. Boehner has spent the entire time as Speaker of the House promoting and legislating for Christianity and is finally addressing education funding with a bill (H.R. 471) that is scheduled for a vote on March 30.
On its face, the bill is education related, but it is nothing more than another bible-inspired gift that encourages religious privatization of Washington D.C.’s school system and is in direct conflict with the separation of church and state as directed in the Constitution. Boehner’s bill is a voucher system that is a Republican tactic to eventually privatize education in America as well as promote evangelical values that Republicans hope to instill into the American psyche. There are several problems with the bill besides the fact that it is unconstitutional to use Federal tax dollars for religious instruction.
Private religious schools are exempt from civil rights laws and they have free sovereignty to discriminate against employees in hiring on the basis of faith, lifestyle, or political affiliation. Although the vouchers are federally funded using U.S. taxpayer dollars, private religious schools are allowed to discriminate in enrollment on the basis of faith. More than 80% of students who receive federally funded vouchers attend private religious schools that have no option available for students to opt-out of religious instruction allowing the schools to proselytize students in the ways of Christian dogmata and social conservative philosophy.
This is all being done with American’s tax dollars, and to make matters worse, the religious schools enjoy tax-exempt status because they are faith-based, non-profit organizations. In other words, the private religious schools are double dipping at the taxpayers’ expense. The added insult is that religious schools are also exempt from non-discrimination in hiring laws on the basis of faith or sexual preference. In states like Virginia and South Carolina, there are movements to disallow gays from teaching in public schools or being in close proximity to students. Without the constraints of fair hiring practices and equal rights, Virginia and South Carolina would discriminate against potential teachers, but the Constitutional protections prevent the bigots from disallowing gays from teaching in public schools.
The other issue is that students or their parents cannot opt-out of religious instruction if they disagree with the faith being promoted. It means that students are a captive audience that religious zealots can bombard with Christian ideology and socially conservative doctrine despite a parent’s objection. This bill is state-sponsored religious instruction that every American is paying for, and it is wrong.
It is hypocritical for Republicans and especially John Boehner to slash education spending for public schools at the same time they are forcing Americans to pay for religious indoctrination at private bible schools. If the country is broke as Boehner claims and public education must be unfunded, why is he sponsoring a bill to fund private religious schools with public tax dollars? There is a two-fold reason Boehner and 50 other representatives are sponsoring H.R. 471.
First, the push to privatize education in the United States is meant to break union representation as well as cap salaries teachers earn. Teachers in private religious schools are not held to the same standards and qualifications as public school teachers. Private schools are allowed to hire teachers on the basis of their faith and not academic proficiency or specialty in any given subject; except the bible.
Second, rewarding religious instruction is part of the Dominionists takeover of the government with assistance from Christian conservatives in the House. To date, Republicans have pushed forward Christian-based ideology in their attacks on gays and especially women’s reproductive rights. The constitution is quite clear that the government is not allowed to legislate any religious dogma into the law, but Republicans have done little else since the beginning of the 112th Congress.
If the government is broke and education cuts are mandatory like Republicans claim, they have absolutely no right taking American taxpayer dollars to give away to private religious institutions. Every day, Republicans are using their Christian beliefs to shape the laws of the land and push the bible doctrine on the entire country. Faith based organizations are sacred cows to Republicans and their three-month rampage to bring theocratic rule to Americans must stop.
The notion of vouchers for schools is not to provide the best education for students, but to privatize the educational system in America. To claim there is no funding for education as Republicans are handing out Americans’ tax dollars for religious instruction is the epitome of hypocrisy and a slap to the face of intelligent Americans. Either the country can afford to fund education or they cannot. As usual though, Republicans are rank hypocrites who are diligently working to replace our democratic form of government with a theocracy. Americans should be outraged that public schools are losing funding so the Republicans can spend the money on religious training for the next generation of Christian soldiers and socially conservative voters.
Take time to call or write a note to your representative to tell them to vote no on H.R. 471 and protect American schools and our democracy. The Dominionists have gone too far and now Republicans are forcing America to fund more Christian extremists. Religious schools and organizations already live on the government dole with their tax exempt status; there is no reason to fund their hate and bigotry any longer.