I don’t want my tax money going to teach a child the rosary. Neither do I want him taught to bow towards Mecca and call God “Allah.” I don’t want him chanting to Buddha or worshipping the Hindu god Shiva at school. I don’t want him told that the world is only 10,000 years old (or that evolution is a proven fact and God is dead either).
Likewise, I would not want my child going to a school that preaches that only Republicans are Christians and that homosexuals go to hell. Neither should he be expected to wear a beard or sideburns, unless he becomes an Orthodox Jew, or long dresses, no make-up and updos like United Pentecostals. A schoolchild should never have to cover her dreadlocks with a turban like the Rastafarians, unless she is one. But voucher schools could require any of that.
I am an evangelical Christian. You might think that I would like my child to go to a Christian school. But I believe religious schools are a choice for those who can afford them. It is best for parents to teach their faith to their children at home and through their house of worship.
School is for teaching children to read, do math, learn history and science, and learn to get along with others, including those who don’t look or act like them, and to decide what they want to do in life and to become who they want to be. Sometimes kids and teachers pray in public school. I prayed for and about my students daily since 1972. Students gathered for prayer spontaneously in hallways on standardized testing days. But no one should be required to pray in school, and my tax money must not go to teaching or condemning anyone’s religion. Class time should not be spent in worship on my dime.
Public schools are best for children unless parents pay for the alternative themselves, the exception being for some children with extreme special needs. Parents should have choice in schools, but those choices must be among public schools with special programs or policies — science, the arts, uniform-free, independent or highly structured learning, special-education magnets, advanced education for the gifted, vocational programs, college prep, work-ready, even military-style programs. All programs must be offered in public schools, and adequate money spent to make each public school a quality school.
Vouchers lead to discrimination and paying for someone else’s religion. They are unconstitutional and wrong for Louisiana and America. If parents want their children to attend private schools, they need to gather the funds from relatives, as a friend of mine’s family did and pay for them themselves.