Use of school vouchers is clearly unconstitutional
A recent writer from Buffalo extolled the virtues of school vouchers – public monies funding nonpublic schools. His letter stated information regarding the Canadian school system that necessitates correction.
The British North America Act of 1867, uniting the provinces of upper (Ontario) and lower (Quebec) Canada and creating the Dominion of Canada also established two school systems: separate (Catholic) and public (everyone else). Catholics may direct their school tax dollars to either system, but non-Catholics must support the public system. The writer incorrectly states that there is freedom of choice in this matter.
The writer also advances numerous arguments in favor of vouchers. All of these arguments are moot. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution forbids such direct subsidies of taxpayer monies to religious and quasi-religious institutions. No one can be forced to have one’s tax dollars support religious organizations whose tenets may violate one’s own beliefs. While public funds can be directed to religious schools for textbooks and certain special services, vouchers are and must be considered unconstitutional.
Lastly, the writer quotes dollars in an attempt to show the cost effectiveness of certain religious schools. While some of the difference between these and public schools lies in the disparity of salaries and benefits to staff, a great difference occurs because parochial schools, by and large, do not service special-needs students – those having mental and physical challenges requiring highly specialized staff, and costly programs. These programs and services are almost exclusively the responsibility of the public school system, which is required to service all children, and does not have the luxury of picking and choosing its student body.