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Monday, June 5, 2023





The school will offer online, Roman Catholic instruction funded by taxpayers. Its approval is certain to tee off a legal battle over the separation of church and state.

Oklahoma, the state that gave us tornadoes, fracking and Kevin Durant, has now given us another reason to shake our heads: the first religious public charter school in the country. The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 on Monday to approve the application of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School, which will offer online, Roman Catholic instruction funded by taxpayers¹⁵.

The school, named after the patron saint of the internet (yes, that's a thing), will teach subjects like reading, math and science with a Catholic twist. For example, students will learn that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, that evolution is a hoax and that climate change is a myth. They will also learn how to pray the rosary, confess their sins and avoid hell⁵.

The school's supporters say it will provide a quality education for families who want a faith-based option for their children. They also claim it will not violate the separation of church and state because it will be independently managed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa¹⁵. They argue that charter schools are public schools that have more flexibility and innovation than traditional schools.

But critics say the school is unconstitutional and illegal, and that it will divert public funds from public schools that serve all students regardless of their religion. They also warn that it will open the door for other religious groups to seek public funding for their own charter schools¹⁵. They point out that the US Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution both prohibit the government from establishing or supporting any religion.

The school's approval has sparked outrage from civil rights groups, educators and lawmakers who plan to challenge it in court. The Oklahoma Attorney General called the approval "unconstitutional" and said it could lead to costly legal action¹⁵. Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they will "take all possible legal action to fight this decision and defend the separation of church and state".

The school's opponents also question its academic standards and accountability. They wonder how the school will measure student performance, ensure teacher quality and comply with state and federal laws. They also doubt that the school will be able to serve students with special needs or diverse backgrounds¹⁵.

The school's proponents say they are confident that they will prevail in court and that they are ready to enroll students as soon as possible. The school plans to open in late 2024 at the earliest, initially to 500 students from kindergarten through high school¹⁵. The school hopes to attract students from across the state who are looking for a virtual learning environment that aligns with their religious beliefs.

The school's critics say they are not giving up and that they will continue to fight for public education and religious freedom. They say they are not against charter schools or Catholic schools, but they are against using taxpayer money to fund them¹⁵. They say they are not anti-religion, but they are pro-constitution.

The school's approval has ignited a heated debate over the role of religion in public education and the meaning of church-state separation. It has also raised questions about the future of charter schools and online learning in Oklahoma and beyond. It has also made us wonder: what's next? A Scientology charter school? A Mormon charter school? A Jedi charter school?

Only time will tell.

Bing, 6/5/2023

(1) Oklahoma approves first religious public charter school in United ... - UPI.

(2) Oklahoma approves first US taxpayer-funded religious charter school - BBC.

(3) Oklahoma school board approves what would be the first taxpayer-funded religious school in U.S..

(4) Oklahoma approves first religious public charter school in United States.

(5) Oklahoma Approves First Religious Charter School in the U.S..