Religious Charter Schools?

June 19, 2007 1 min read

Has the time come for religious charter schools?, Lawrence D. Weinberg and Bruce S. Cooper ask in this Education Week Commentary.

It has in Minnesota. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which said that public vouchers could be used for students’ tuition at religious K-12 schools, the state of Minnesota allowed a Muslim group to open the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights.

Schools in other states could follow Ziyad Academy’s example, the authors say. They offer the following tips, and others, for religious groups that may be interested: create a separate, secular foundation to support the school; adopt a mission statement that includes specific educational goals unrelated to the religious or cultural purposes; and develop a curriculum that meets the school’s religious, cultural, and educational needs.

In short, the school should be designed “to teach the ethics and history of the faith, but not to practice it.”

What do you think? Can public charter schools have a religious orientation without violating the separation of church and state?

A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.