Reflecting the rise in the number of church-affiliated schools across the country, a number of states are enmeshed in controversy over just how much control they should have over private schools.
On one side are state education bureaucracies that want to ensure that private schools, including the growing number of small fundamentalist Christian academies, maintain adequate educational standards. On the other are some private schools that contend the state has no right to regulate them, especially if they receive no state or federal aid, and who say, as did one spokesman for a state Christian-schools association, "The question is not one of quality, but of control."
The amount of control is being fought over in the courts and, with increasing frequency, in the legislatures. At least four state legislatures are considering bills on the issue in their current sessions; a number of others have already encountered such bills in recent sessions or are expected to have bills introduced later this year that to some degree would free church-related schools from state regulation.
'State Regulatory Intrusion'
At issue in confrontations that have occurred in North Carolina, Nebraska, Iowa, and other states is what a spokesman for the Christian Legal Society calls "the state regulatory intrusion into the operation of Christian and other private schools."
Although officials of some private schools have said they find intolerable state requirements that they meet health regulations and fire codes, most are more concerned with state intervention in such areas as teacher certification, curriculum requirements, and accreditation.
Current statistics on the extent of stateregulation of private schools are not readily available, but Donald A. Erickson, director of Continued on Page XX
Vol. 01, Issue 21