NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST February 18, 2022 - Raising Awareness of Education Options
While much attention is focused on Wyoming’s 48 school districts and their 364 schools, we would do well to give greater attention to “schools of every needed kind and grade.” Children would benefit from greater choices. And budgetary difficulties could be eased by the competition that additional options provide.
One way of providing school choice is the “charter school.” These are publicly funded and publicly regulated but, unlike neighborhood schools, they must compete for students. When parental choice, rather than lines on a map, determine the student body, a school is more responsive to parental expectations and input. . . .
While the legislature seeks to expand school choice to benefit the public, it should not overlook the important role that private schools can play. Education is more than about reading, writing and arithmetic. Education is about morality. Under the heading of Education, Wyoming’s Constitution specifies that it is the “Duty of [the] legislature to protect and promote health and morality of people.” This is “essential… to the peace and permanence of the state” (Art. 7, Sec. 20).
All education is inherently religious. But the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from setting up one religion over another, and the Free Exercise Clause prohibits the state from regulating a religious school. State educators, in the best case, are reluctant to speak of God at all. In the worst cases, they may denigrate God before impressionable students. Either way, the constitutional and essential duty to promote morality is hobbled.
Therefore, Wyoming’s 30 Private Schools are better situated to serve the public in this capacity than anything that the state can do directly. They can freely speak of God who, according to the Declaration of Independence, creates all men equal. Homeschooling, too, allows open discussion of God in the classroom. Moreover, it boasts the longest history, and the greatest parental involvement of any other sort of school choice.
Churches unable to establish a private school can still serve parents by enhancing educational choice. They can offer their buildings as a space for homeschoolers to gather and enlist non-parent volunteers for assistance. Such creative initiatives can encourage parents who are otherwise intimidated at the prospect of homeschooling. Cooperative learning environments like these can utilize the expertise of young parents and retirees who have much to offer to the next generation.
Legislative support for private schools and homeschools is tricky but should not be neglected. Money is power. Tax dollars taken from parents and given exclusively to schools that they have not chosen violates the spirit of the First Amendment. Every dollar given to a school that never mentions God is a tacit Establishment of a godless religion. And every dollar taken from parents who want a religious education for their children inhibits the freedom to exercise their religion.
Rev. Jonathan Lange, pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Evanston, Wyo., and St. Paul Lutheran Church, Kemmerer, Wyo., is the Wyoming District’s second vice-president. His article can be found in its entirety here.
Learn more about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “religious view” abortion argument with Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute.
Have you heard about a new grant program that will provide up to $1 million in matching funds to LCMS congregations involved in upholding the sanctity of life in their local communities? Learn how to get started here!
“God the Father is for you, for your good. He wants better for you than you could ever imagine for yourself. How do you know? Because He gave Jesus on the cross.” – Rev. Jeffrey Hemmer, assistant to the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
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