Blurring the Lines: Charter, Public, Private, and Religious Schools Come Together
With the rise of religiously-affiliated charter schools higher and yon, the line separating secular and sectarian education is increasingly murky. Are these schools a beachhead for valuable cultural, linguistic, and ethnic learning? Or are they a backdoor entry into state-sponsored religion? This thoughtful book explores this complex terrain and emerges with a rather cloudy answer: “The combination of dramatic public policy initiatives proclaiming charter schools as the answer to genuine school reform, relaxed public attitudes to the separation issue, and apparent judicial confusion regarding the wall of separation have left us with standards which are barely discernable.” To prove their point, the authors offer case studies of a Catholic charter school that rents space from the local archdiocese, a Hebrew charter school that offers a “modern Jewish education,” and another with an Islamic dress code. Stepping away from sectarian schools, the authors also question ethnically-based charter schools. Is a charter school that teaches Arabic culture, including the Qu’ran, too religious? What about one that uses the Bible as a key text? Debates over religious instruction in public schools have raged pretty much since Horace Mann; this book further stokes that fiery conversation.
Janet D. Mulvey, Bruce S. Cooper, and Arthur T. Maloney, “Blurring the Lines: Charter, Public, Private, and Religious Schools Come Together,” (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc., 2010).
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