To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Observercast

Ed Board Needs Remedial Reading

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Oklahoma Republicans’ attack on public education continues apace, with evidence that faulty education might be behind their actions. Monday, in a 3-2 vote, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board agreed to give state money to the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School.

Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma State Constitution – in the state’s Bill of Rights – states:

“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

Anyone who can read that very plain wording and then vote to give state money to SISVCS needs a course in remedial reading. “No money” means “No money.” This is not an esoteric matter requiring close-reading and interpretation.

What it is, according to Attorney General Gentner Drummond – a Republican with reading skills – “is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers.”

Drummond added, “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the state to potential legal action that could be costly.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt and state Superintendent Ryan Walters have been pushing state-funding for religious schools – again displaying pre-school reading and comprehension skills. And, as another reminder, the melding of religion and government is one of Lawrence Britt’s 14 Characteristics of Fascism.

Following the vote, KFOR-TV reported, “the board’s chairman, Dr. Robert Franklin, stepped down.”

“We just stepped right back into a trap,” said Franklin. “I would like to say that I was surprised. I was anticipating that the convictions by which we’d signed oaths to follow the constitution of the state of Oklahoma and the new charter school act that was just literally signed today by the governor, which says very clearly in that provision that we shouldn’t. But we did.”

So, are the board members who approved this action ignorant or traitors whose sacred oaths mean nothing? Hard call.

Julia Conley of Common Dreams detailed the problem:

“The school would be entirely government-funded, but like other charter schools – which have been criticized by public education advocates – it would be independently managed, in this case by the Catholic archdiocese and diocese.”

Conley cites Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as saying: “It’s hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families than the state establishing the nation’s first religious public charter school.

“No public school family should fear that their child will be required by charter schools to take theology classes or be expelled for failing to conform to religious doctrines. And the government should never force anyone to fund religious education.

“In a country built on the principle of separation of church and state, public schools must never be allowed to become Sunday schools.”

Her group and the American Civil Liberties plan to file suits against this violation of the state Constitution – as AG Drummond predicted.

When the matter first appeared before the board, Drummond noted that approving one religion’s charter school also sets a precedent for giving state money to any religious school – whatever its agenda.

Members of the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and its allies, Stitt and Walters, should be made to pay personally for the resulting litigation.

That’s right, along with losing public education money for public schools, the reckless action by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board will be costing Oklahomans money to defend its obviously unconstitutional action.

Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.