Walter, the debate about whether taxpayer-funded vouchers should be able to be used in schools attached to one religious denomination or another has been going on for years. My own inclination has been to think, with reservations, that the answer is yes. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the increasingly diverse nature of religious belief in America is going to add yet another complication to this controversy, one that might cause me (FWIW), and perhaps others, to change their mind.
If such vouchers can be used to pay the fees at, say, Roman Catholic or Evangelical schools, logic dictates that they could also be used for schools associated with other faiths, such as Islam. That’s fair enough, I reckon, but that in turn raises the prospect of taxpayer funding for some schools where the Koran might dominate the curriculum to a degree that takes what is being taught very far from the educational mainstream. What, I wonder, would voters make of the idea of taxpayer-supported madrassas, or, for that matter, schools affiliated to some of this country’s wilder Christian sects? Not so much, I reckon.
The answer, theoretically, would be to insist that all voucher-eligible schools meet certain objective tests (a certain number of hours of math, science and so on), but quite how those tests would be drawn up and policed in the light of the First Amendment makes one wonder if this would be in any way practicable.