BJC urges U.S. Senate not to divert public education dollars to private schools in coronavirus relief legislation [UPDATED]
[UPDATE 8/04/2020: More organizations have added their name – here’s a link to the updated letter]
In a letter to the entire U.S. Senate, religious organizations – including BJC – expressed opposition to using taxpayer money to fund private schools through the coronavirus relief bill currently being negotiated. The groups emphasize that public school systems serve the vast majority of schoolchildren in the United States, and are already dealing with budget challenges because of the pandemic.
In addition, they explain that private schools have already benefited from government relief programs in ways that public schools have not.
Here is an excerpt from their updated letter:
Private schools that have suffered an economic loss due to COVID-19 have been included in the relief available to all small businesses and nonprofits, as is appropriate. They may apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Disaster Loans and various other tax relief options in previous coronavirus relief legislation in addition to the provisions for small businesses and nonprofits in the HEALS Act. Even the partial list of recipients of PPP loans that has been released thus far shows that private schools were among the small businesses and nonprofits that received the PPP’s forgivable loans. As units of government, public school districts were not able to receive any relief in these programs but were limited to the education funding provided to state, local, and tribal governments. In an unprecedented economic crisis when Congress is providing relief to the private and public sectors, the needs of the public sector should not be shuffled aside to allow the private sector to double dip in receiving relief provided through our tax dollars. …
Public schools are often our first, and perhaps best, training ground for how we can learn to live, work and play with our neighbors who have different religious beliefs, abilities, or cultural traditions.
Read the whole thing.
For BJC and other champions of religious liberty, it’s important that taxpayer money does not fund religion – the law treats religion in a distinctive manner, and rightly so.
As the relief legislation takes shape, I will provide updates here. Stay tuned.