Pastors for Texas Children, a pro-public education group, is warning that the creation of a “parallel private system of education” funded with tax dollars — through vouchers or other schemes — would violate the Texas Constitution and harm the religious schools proponents of such a system want to fund.
That warning came in a brief the group filed on Tuesday with the Texas Supreme Court, which just took up a major case on whether the state’s current system for funding public education meets constitutional requirements.
The Pastors of Texas Children brief follows a brief from a religious-right group, the Houston-based U.S. Pastor Council, which argued that the state’s failure to give taxpayer dollars to sectarian schools is evidence of an anti-religion bias and threatens religious freedom. Pastors for Texas Children flatly rejects such arguments, warning that such schemes would actually harm religious schools:
“The last thing our fine public schools need is more dollars drained away from them, and the last thing our fine private schools need is the government intervention and oversight that will inevitably and necessarily follow the public money they receive.”
The Pastors for Texas Children brief also notes the lack of evidence showing that students who use private school vouchers perform better than their public school counterparts and points out that private schools accepting vouchers are not held to the same standards as public schools. It goes on to argue that faith flourishes when government respects separation of church and state:
The current public school system does not force anyone to attend a public school or obtain a secular education. Private religious education is available to anyone who cherishes it enough to bear the cost. We prefer the system where those who love and cherish a faith have to bear the cost of that faith. That is the way faith flourishes.
Faith is strong and alive in America because of the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. In the places where this is not true, the church is an empty shell. Depending on the state for funds is a death sentence for free religion and vibrant faith.
You can read the full brief from Pastors for Texas Children here. Read more about Pastors for Texas Children on the group’s website here.