Letter, Opinion

Religious schools and public money

Dear Editor,

I wish to agree with Rebecca Holcombe’s views about religious schools taking public money on the basis of “nondiscrimination” for a religious school, while those schools not only discriminate, as the Grace School in the article does in a heinous manner, denying gay people’s humanity as they do, but have traditionally been allowed to do much more “their way.”

I refer to staff members who would never meet public school qualifications, and some of whom have been caught in some serious improprieties (usually sexual) that would get a public school teacher fired. It’s always galling to me to see a big black headline about a “teacher” caught in a sexual relationship with a student or some such thing, only to read that the “teacher” was working in a private (mostly religious) school where qualifications for the job are often quite lax.

Public school teachers routinely jump through multiple hoops to stay qualified. Many have master’s degrees at least, and are well qualified in whatever field they specialize. Not so with religious schools. 

Then there is the question of other discrimination. Students with drug problems? Boot them out. Students who criticize anything remotely connected to the school’s religious policies and proclamations? Boot them out, too. Sexual impropriety among students? There’s the door, especially for any female caught getting pregnant. Those with severe special education needs? Don’t let them in in the first place. Let public schools deal with the problems.

Certainly not all religious schools are guilty of all these criticisms, but that they hide behind the First Amendment when it suits them to pick and choose which public school requirements to abide by — if any — is pure hypocrisy when they then expect the public to pay their bills.

There! I’ve said what has bothered me about this issue for decades, including the last year of my teaching in public school when a student had been kicked out of a local Catholic high school for drug-related problems and ended up in my classroom, where he routinely flouted my basic classroom rules. I was told I had to deal with him. Period. Thanks for the forum.

Diane Alberts, Rutland

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