From the editors of the La Porte (Indiana) Herald-Argus. -Angela
Sometimes an idea that sounds good is promoted for the wrong reason.
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept a case involving the legality of a Maine law that prohibits using state funds to send kids to a parochial school.
Maine has 145 school districts with no high schools. Parents of 17,000 students have the choice of sending their children to any school anywhere, public or private, with tuition paid by state voucher. But state law -- supported last April by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court -- says public funds may not be used for religious schools.
The Institute for Justice, a conservative group, brought the case on behalf of eight families affected by the law.
There is an issue here that goes beyond separation of church and state.
School vouchers are supported by the Bush administration and by many conservatives. While providing more options for some parents, the underlying philosophy behind the system is flawed. Bush and others regard school vouchers as a way to escape inner-city schools plagued by violence and deteriorating buildings.
But providing the means for a few to flee those schools is not the answer. Funds for vouchers could be going toward a much-needed overhaul of such beleaguered schools. Considering that a whole population of children remains at those woefully sub-par schools, efforts should be focused on providing a safe environment and effective teaching for an education that has been guaranteed for children since the earliest days on this country.
To be optimally successful, providing school renovations, safety measures and certified teachers needs to be in tandem with a wider philosophy of nurturing and supporting the communities and families with at-risk children and schools. A move toward drug rehab and away from prison sentences for addicts would strengthen families; preventative programs would provide support for kids and parents struggling to move beyond the limited horizons of urban decay and violence. Education can truly become the hope for the future.
How ironic that it is a group called the Institute of Justice that sought to bring the school voucher case for eight families before the U.S. Supreme Court. What about justice for all schoolchildren?