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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Apr 14th 2010, 11:15 PM
There is a lot of that converting going on now. These religious schools are getting public taxpayer money to keep them open in these bad economic times.

It brings up issues of separation of church and state, or at least it should do that.

The schools claim they will not teach religion once converted to charters, but usually the same staff and administration will be in place.

In Indiana though there is something different. The archdiocese will retain control of the schools even when they begin receiving up to a million dollars of public funding. So that taxpayer money will be going to schools controlled by the Catholic church.

From Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Charter Challenge: Catholic School Conversions Worry Legal Experts

Two Catholic elementary schools in Indianapolis will convert to public charter schools and receive nearly $1 million in state funding, according to a plan that was recently authorized by city officials.

St. Anthony’s and St. Andrew and St. Rita Academy will be among the many Catholic-to-charter school conversions approved throughout the country within the past couple of years. In an effort to save failing Catholic schools, officials in Florida, New York, Texas and the District of Columbia have also approved similar conversions.

Just like schools in all the other states, the Indianapolis schools have agreed to stop religious instruction and remove religious symbols in order to receive the public funding. But for the first time, an archdiocese will retain control and continue to run the public school – a move that makes church-state separationists more than a little nervous, to say the least.

Wonder how the public feels about that million of their money going to two religious schools? Or are they aware?

The AU says that charter schools are public schools that are not required to abide by the same accountability standards.

But in my mind if the Catholic church is running the schools...they are not public schools. They are just getting taxpayer money as a privately run school. Big difference.

Here is more from the AP on the topic:

Indiana schools conversion clouded by church/state issues

INDIANAPOLIS — A plan to create what could be the first U.S. public charter schools run by a Roman Catholic archdiocese is meeting resistance from those who worry about whether religious messages and icons will really stay out of the classrooms and hallways.

Mayor Greg Ballard says the plan is an innovative way to keep schools open so they can fill the needs of families in the struggling areas surrounding the schools. Archdiocese officials saw an opportunity to keep the schools open despite a growing budget deficit.

"A good neighborhood school is always a good thing to have," Ballard said. "These schools have been around for a while and obviously have trouble making ends meet, but they still provide a valuable service for these neighborhoods."

The city approved the plan April 5 to convert St. Anthony's and St. Andrew & St. Rita Academy in a move that would qualify the schools for nearly $1 million in state funding in the first year.

One million to two schools? Taxpayer money? Am I reading that right?

Looks like this Commonweal blog calls them "church-run charters".

Catholic schools to be church-run charters

As this post shows it brings up issues for those who want their children attending a Catholic school...will it really become secular in nature while getting that million of taxpayer money?

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has announced that it will convert two Catholic schools into publicly funded charter schools – but will continue to run them itself through a corporation it controls. The decision to retain control of the schools – absent religious trappings – is a first (The Washington and Miami archdioceses have both turned schools over to other charter-school operators.).

This has led to worries that the separation of church and state will be violated. I will leave that to others and instead express concern for what this development means for Catholic schools. How important is the Catholic faith to the quality of education provided in Catholic schools? What will be the effect on other Catholic schools if parents can send their children for free to a charter school run with the blessings of the archbishop?

In Florida at least seven Catholic schools have been turned into charters...or are in the process of being converted. Also a strict religious school in Palmetto Florida which teaches/taught creationism became a charter as well...getting public money.

Catholic schools in Florida converting to charters

And so, the Archdiocese of Miami will begin its experiment with charter schools this fall. What was intended as a pilot program at one parish – Corpus Christi in Wynwood – will become, for financial reasons, the norm at seven more. Charters also will open in August where five other Catholic schools closed this June: Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Divine Providence in Sweetwater, St. Francis Xavier in Overtown, St. Stephen in Miramar and St. Clement in Fort Lauderdale.

A seventh charter will open at St. Malachy in Tamarac, which opted to close its school before its financial situation deteriorated further. And an eighth charter will open in Miami Gardens, in the building used by St. Monica School until it closed in May 2008.

Charter schools are free, funded by public dollars, so religion cannot be taught during the school day. Unlike traditional public schools, however, charter schools operate independently of the local school board and have more leeway in managing day-to-day operations.

Because the parishes are leasing their former school buildings to the charter schools, they are deriving income from the properties. The amount ranges between $150,000 and $350,000 this first year, “depending on the size, capacity and condition of the facilities,” according to Fernando Zulueta, president of Academica, a company that provides management and support services for most of the charter schools opening on archdiocesan properties.

Did you notice that they will not only get taxpayer money, they will profit from real estate deals.

Mixing public and private money with religion is not a good thing. All this is happening so quickly I doubt too many people understand what is going on.

It's an huge onslaught against public education, and it is speeding up this last year. Like a runaway train.

Yet the public schools and the teachers there are expected to perform better, to conform to higher and higher standards...while the money that should fund them is going to charter schools that are run without all the regulations those public schools must follow.

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