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State Funding of Catholic Schools

This morning I received an action alert from the NYS Catholic Conference.  This conference works as the public policy arm of the Catholic Bishops in New York State.  This action alert was about funding for mandated programs in Catholic/private schools.  I do not know the detials but there are programs that are mandated in public and private schools in New York State.  The public schools receive special funding for these programs.  Some of the programs call for the same funding for religious and private schools.  However, not all of the funding is delivered.  In light of the current fiscal crisis not all of the mandated funding is paid to religious/private schools. 

While I understand the principle of separation of church and state, I believe if a program is state mandated and the public schools receive special funding for the particular program, any religious or private school subject to the mandated program should receive the same funding.  The parents of these children pay the same taxes as the parents of public school children.  They should receive some benefit from their taxes.

Church and state should remain separated but with regards to school funding, with the exception of the religious component of the education, religious schools provide the same “service” to the community as public schools.  Why can’t they receive some funding?

There are two levels of questions here.  The first, already mentioned above, is funding for mandated programs.  The second is public funding of private/religious schools in general.  This is not a new question.  It has existed since the beginning of public schools in America.  Even within the Catholic Church there have been differing opinions are found in a paper I wrote while in seminary entitled “Bishop McQuaid and Archbishop Ireland: School Controversy or Otherwise?”  If you would like to know more about this issue check out my paper but be forewarned it is 31 pages!

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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