The first religious charter school in the United States to receive public funding has been approved by an Oklahoma school board.
In a a razor close 3-2 vote on Monday, the Oklahoma State Virtual Charter School Board granted approval to a Catholic charter school. However, the state attorney general criticized the decision as “unconstitutional” and cautioned that it might result in expensive legal disputes. This is very likely true given how politicized America currently is when it comes to the divisive topic of religion.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa will oversee the operation of this charter school. Charter schools, which receive taxpayer funding, but are independently managed, represent only a small portion of the US education system. However, with this landmark ruling, it becomes far more likely that other religious schools will attempt a similar strategy.
The St Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School would incorporate religious teachings into its curriculum, which will encompass a wide variety of subjects. Although this is said to cover subjects such as mathmatics, it’s difficult to see where religion would come into a topic such as algebra.
It was estimated that the school would require $23.3 million in state funding during its initial five years of operation. Furthermore, if all goes as planned, the online school would commence operations in late 2024, initially enrolling 500 students from kindergarten to high school.
The school board initially denied the school’s application in April due to legal concerns, requesting a revised application that addressed these concerns. A gigantic 400-page application stated the school’s goal will be educating the whole child: their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being. After this revised application, the school board approved the request for public funding.
Many local residents, and Americans in general have expressed their concern at what this means for the future. Even those who are Catholic believe that this ruling opens up a possibility of future, more extremist religious schools to open up in the near future. Should the taxpayer really be fronting up the cash for this kind of teaching?