Wait, Vouchers Can Fund Muslim Schools?

In Louisiana last year, Christian right legislators were shocked — shocked! — to find out that if you give vouchers to parents to send their kids to private schools, money could go to Muslim schools too. Now their counterparts in Tennessee are trying to figure out how to avoid that.

A pair of proposals rapidly moving through the Tennessee General Assembly could potentially divert tax dollars currently allocated to public schools to Islamic private schools, and two Rutherford County senators are raising concerns about the legislation.

“This is an issue we must address,” state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) said. “I don’t know whether we can simply amend the bill in such a way that will fix the issue at this point.”

State Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Tracy each expressed their concerns Friday over Senate Bill 0196, commonly called the “School Voucher Bill” and sponsored by fellow Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville), which would give parents of children attending failing public schools a voucher with which to enroll in a private school.

State monies that would otherwise be spent on educating the student in public schools would then be diverted to qualifying private schools to pay private tuition for the student, in whole or in part.

Islamic schools throughout the state, including Nashville and Memphis where several of Tennessee’s lowest performing schools are located, would qualify to receive such students under the state-funded voucher program.

Notice that there was no complaint at all from these same legislators over diverting money to private Christian schools. They’re perfectly find with tax money going to support Christian schools. But Muslim schools? That’s an outrage! Who could possibly support such a thing? More importantly, how can they pass a law that prevents that from happening while ensuring the flow of funds to Christian schools? They can’t. And you know what prevents it? That damn constitution they claim so loudly to revere.

Comments

  1. Curt Cameron says

    “Fix the issue.”

    That’s kinda funny. And that guys from Shelbyville, so what would you expect?

  2. blf says

    Instead of funding private academies, whatever their quality or (if any) core mythologies, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest the public’s funds in the supposedly-failing public schools? You know, like fix the problem…

  3. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Is it schadenfreude to look forward to seeing the convoluted verbiage they use to try to justify religious discrimination?

    And of course it shows their narrow-mindedness that they didn’t see this coming.

  4. says

    “Fix the public schools”? What? You do know that “public schools” has “public” in it? Everybody knows that government can’t do anything right, while the Free Market can’t do anything wrong. That’s just common sense.
    Republican Conservative Republicans are for Free Market solutions, not “public” schools. And by “Free Market” I mean “unregulated, for-profit businesses suckling with no oversight at the sweet, sweet, public teat”.

  5. Who Knows? says

    Wasn’t Tennessee concerned about a mop sink being used as a Muslim foot washing station recently?

  6. says

    @blf #2, @chilidog99 #6 – Ignoring the problem is much, much easier than trying to fix it.

    And anyway, Talibangelicals have long been on the record about their wish to destroy public schools, what with all those pesky rules that public schools are required to follow, like “no bullying kids to death” and “no mandated prayer and Bible study” and “required pornography sex education” and “educate everyone, including girls and Moozlems.” Diverting public monies to private religious organizations has always been the sole point of school vouchers; the question here is how to make sure it goes only to the right religious organizations.

  7. raven says

    Wait till they find out those vouchers can also go to atheist and Pagan schools.

    would qualify to receive such students under the state-funded voucher program.

    In a lot of states, those qualification are essentially zero. Except for being right wing extremists and fundie xians. They don’t have to have trained, accredited teachers, and can teach anything and/or nothing they want to.

    Also in a lot of these states, there is no testing to see how well these private schools are doing. No measurements, no metrics. The private schools could be graduated brainwashed, illiterate zombies and no one would know. Or care.

  8. D. C. Sessions says

    Sometimes it’s entertaining to watch history repeat.

    I’m old enough to remember the first attempts to get around District-composed school prayers: they tried various teacher-led or student-led prayers at the beginning of the day. Except that they found out that there were Catholics in the district. Worse yet, one of my English teachers decided to be eclectic and had a different prayer every morning, including some from India, China, Japan, and (eep!) the Navajo.

    Having Mr. Young as an English teacher was one of the rather few bright spots about high school. Bob Finkbine being another (points to those who can identify him.)

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    Also in a lot of these states, there is no testing to see how well these private schools are doing. No measurements, no metrics.

    In fact, measuring the actual performance of private (including charter) schools is blocked by law. One wonders why.

    The private schools could be graduated brainwashed, illiterate zombies and no one would know. Or care.

    Nonsense — they care a great deal. What you describe would be the ideal outcome.

  10. chisaihana5219 says

    I have always kept that argument ready in the event our Legislators want to try vouchers here. If you fund private school with tax money, you are funding Christian, Jewish, Buddist, Muslim, Pagan, Athiest, Mormon, or yikes; Scientology schools. Just go to a public meeting and mention this and the idea goes away fast.

  11. criticaldragon1177 says

    Ed Brayton,

    The truth of the matter is, there’s no way they can avoid sending money Christian and Jewish schools if they’re not going to send money to Muslim schools, at least without violating the constitution. If they even try they’re going to get sued and the law will be tossed out. There’s been issues funding religious schools before, but if that didn’t fly, once you start picking and choosing which religions will get that tax payer dollars for their schools…. Someone should tell these people about the establishment clause.

  12. criticaldragon1177 says

    Chisaihana5219

    You wrote,

    “I have always kept that argument ready in the event our Legislators want to try vouchers here. If you fund private school with tax money, you are funding Christian, Jewish, Buddist, Muslim, Pagan, Athiest, Mormon, or yikes; Scientology schools. Just go to a public meeting and mention this and the idea goes away fast.”

    Yes, and especially Muslims now with all the Islamophobia.

  13. thumper1990 says

    *Tears of laughter*

    That… is… hysterical!

    They’ll either have to allow it, or exclude Religious Schools from the bill, or scrap it altogether. Oh, own goal, fundies! Own goal!

  14. says

    They got what they wanted – public money going to private Christian schools. Now they’re going to throw away their own victory in order to ensure nobody else gets to benefit.

    Sometimes I wish we could all give up and move away from TN so they can finally stop forcing themselves to tolerate other flavors of Christian and get back to burning each other at the stake.

  15. says

    “Christian right legislators were shocked — shocked! — to find out that if you give vouchers to parents to send their kids to private schools, money could go to Muslim schools too.”

    Nitpick: I think this is a misuse of “shocked – shocked!”. As I recall (is the origin Casablanca, or do they borrow it from elsewhere?), one is “shocked – shocked!” when one is not really shocked at all (“I’m shocked – shocked! – to learn that there’s gambling [or whatever is obviously going on] going on here!”). But I think these legislators really were shocked. That the money could go to Muslim schools never occurred to them. In other words, they’re not (simply) hypocrites – they’re idiots.

  16. dean says

    Sounds like they were buying into the “Islam is a political movement, not a religion” bullshit a little too much.

  17. chilidog99 says

    FWIW, the voucher bill in TN is apparently deader than Jacob Marley at this point.

  18. baal says

    The purity is strong in TN. Were I in support of giving public funds to my favorite church, a tiny (how many muslim churches would have been in a position to take advantage of the voucher rules?) diversion (1%? 0.1?, 10%?) to a church i don’t like would be worth big funding to the ones I do like.

  19. Synfandel says

    So, these vouchers are to be made available within the catchments of “failing” public schools, out of funds that otherwise would go to those “failing” public schools. Obviously bleeding money out of a school that is already having difficulties isn’t going to improve it and will likely make it even less effective.

    Is the strategy, then,simply to eliminate any public school that is “failing” and replace it with a hodgepodge of privately-run parochial schools? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to figure out why these particular public schools are “failing” and fix them?

  20. Doug Little says

    Don’t they need to determine first what is causing public schools to fail? Is there any kind of normalization testing between private and public schools that determine if one school is better than another? It could very well be that private schools are just as bad as public schools in educating children but are held to a different set of standards. Also, do private schools select students or do they have to take anybody regardless of ability. In Australia when I was going to school most of the private schools were selective, meaning they could pick and choose who attended based on certain criteria such as ability.

  21. dan4 says

    And Ketron was one of the idiot legislators behind the Muslim mop sink, ahem, “controversy.”

  22. says

    David Maier @ 19

    Another famous Casablanca line that gets frequently misused is “the usual suspects.” When the guy at the end says “round up the usual suspects” he is ordering the arrest of people who had nothing to do with the incident at all, but because they have reputations as criminals, arresting them allows the authorities to create the appearance that they are doing something. Then, when things cool down, they are presumably released only to be arrested again at some later date for something else they were not involved with.

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