Sunday, August 14, 2011

Judge Martinez' Voucher Ruling the Correct One!

Many in Douglas County, Colorado are in a state following a ruling by Judge Michael Martinez regarding school vouchers. The Denver District Court Judge Michael granted an injunction that effectively halts the Douglas County voucher pilot until legal challenges to the first-of-its-kind plan are resolved.

In his ruling, Martinez wrote of the voucher pilot, formally known as 'the Choice Scholarship Program', and its private partner schools:

“Plaintiffs have established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Scholarship Program violates both financial and religious provisions set forth in the Colorado Constitution,” he said.

“This evidence includes testimony … confirming that the Scholarship Program, among other things, (1) requires participating students to attend religious services and receive religious instruction; (2) provides aid to churches and religious institutions; and, (3) utilizes religious tests or qualifications for admissions into partner schools.”

The judge’s 68-page ruling also denies a motion by the defendants – the Douglas County School District, its school board, the Colorado Department of Education and the State Board of Education – to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Douglas County School Board had voted in March to become the state's first school district to implement a voucher system. Their pilot program allowed up to 500 students already enrolled in Douglas County public schools to receive up to $4, 575 each of Colorado Taxpayer money toward tuition at a private school, such as 'Humanex Academy'

What's the problem here? It is violating Jefferson's "Wall of separation" and the First Amendment by enabling public tax payer monies to be used to fund private, religious educations! This doesn't fly, sorry! Worse, it uses money that might have gone to enhancing resources at public schools and puts it in private hands! This is an abomination.

Contrary to one idiot Douglas County spokesperson who opined:

"This ruling is not what the people of Douglas County wanted or what we know is in the best interests of our students"

It doesn't matter! The Constitution of this country (as well as the state of Colorado) trumps what the people of one county desire, and also the "interests" of a minority of students.

This spokesperson is as clueless as the dolt fundie pastor who this morning (on a CNN interview), pronounced: "there is NO freedom from religion, only freedom of religion". Which proved once more that most fundamentalist preachers don't know how to either read or interpret what they read!

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Colorado had the correct take:

"The court correctly recognized that it is unconstitutional for the state to underwrite a child's religious education. Families who wish to send their children to a private school may do so, but not with government funds that may only be used to provide a FREE public education for Colorado's children."

This is exactly the point. Yes, I myself benefited from a private (Catholic parochial) high school education, however, I paid for it myself! I asked no state or government to take from the taxpayer's till to fund the education I wanted, which I knew to be superior to the public school system then in North Miami, FLA. I negotiated a contract with the Marist Brothers who ran the school to work after class hours, to clean classrooms, science labs etc. This provided just enough to pay the tuition.($200/month)

My argument is if any of these kids want the same kind of private education, then fine, but find a way to pay for it themselves! (Or let their parents!)

But under no conditions, rob the public schools and taxpayer monies to pay for it.

The words of Thomas Jefferson put it best, and people who claim to be citizens of this nation need to bear them in mind:

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson: Bill for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers 2:545

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