Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using tax money to discriminate

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 6:42 AM

The Arkansas legislature is again expected to debate this year a quasi-school voucher program established in several other states in which dollar-for-dollar tax credits are provided for contributions to nonprofit organizations. The effect is a private school voucher.

Accountability is minimal. Secrecy on how the programs work is typical. And, of course, discrimination is part of the program whenever churches come into play.

The New York Times reports here on a review of beneficiaries of such a voucher program in Georgia. It found more than 100 schools that receive direct tax dollars have policiies that do not allow gay students to enroll or would kick them out if they were discovered.

“We are circumventing our own public policy with public money,” said State Representative Stacey Abrams, the leader of the Democratic minority in the House. “In our public schools, we do not disallow a child from attending on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

“If this were to be happening at any public school,” she said, “the lawsuit would be great and the settlement extraordinary.”

The schools argue that they operate according to deeply held principles and attendance is about choice and religious freedom. Fine. Discriminate. Just not with public money.

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