Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blaine Amendments Under Attack: Should State Tax Dollars Be Used to Fund Religious Education?

As we just blogged, in addition to the tax swap proposal, Florida voters will consider in November a constitutional amendment that will eliminate its so-called "Blaine Amendment" law.  According to an article in the May 15, 2008, issue of the Washington Post, 37 states across the country enacted Blaine Amendments about one hundred years ago when the "Protestant majority" wanted "to block government support for catholic schools."  It appears that the stakes in Florida are huge considering the potential loss of funding for a myriad of social service activities that many consider critical.  here is an excerpt from the article:

Patricia Levesque, the commission member who pushed to add the measure, said she acted because a 2004 appeals court decision cited the Blaine Amendment while striking down then-Gov. Jeb Bush's effort to allow students in failing schools to enroll in parochial and other private schools at public expense.

Levesque said the 2004 decision, as well as a lawsuit recently filed against state prison chaplains, could endanger millions of dollars in state contracts that go to faith-based organizations running substance abuse programs, HIV education services, foster care programs and pre-kindergarten programs.

* * *

Opponents of the measure say that Levesque, Jeb Bush's former education policy chief and the current head of Bush's independent education organization, Foundation for Florida's Future, is using alarmist language as a way to revive his voucher program.

The warnings are a "scare tactic" said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association. "It's Governor Bush's attempt to get vouchers for all." A coalition of education organizations has combined with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Anti-Defamation League to contest the measure.

For the entire article, "Fla. to Consider Key Church-State Question: Funds Ban for Religious Groups at Issue," in the May 15, 2008, issue of the Washington Post.


Church and State, In the News, State – Legislative | Permalink

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