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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Letters to the Editor

Letter: Working around public education

By Joe Kooijman, VANCOUVER
Published: September 8, 2023, 6:00am

In “Private schools get public funds” (The Columbian, Sept. 2), Greg Jayne ignores the elephant in the room: the fact that funding of private schools by way of vouchers is really a dodge to get around the Establishment Clause in the Constitution. What most people who send their children to private schools (that are mainly religious schools) want is to get their equitable share of the tax dollars that are spent on education in this country, and that (because of the vaunted separation between church and state) are exclusively used to go to public schools that ipso facto don’t offer the religious education they would prefer. This is not unreasonable, because they also pay tax for the public schools, so they feel they have to pay double.

Republican legislatures are really trying to find a constitutionally acceptable way to get around the apparent constitutional prohibition. Other countries do this explicitly. In the Netherlands a system was instituted in 1918 that entitles everybody to public funding for a school that conforms to certain objective, technical requirements. So no religion is “established” in the Netherlands either. Would that be an approach that would fly in this country?

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