Blurring the Lines: Charter, Public, Private, and Religious Schools Come Together

Remmert Dekker

With the rise of religiously-affiliated charter schools higher and
yon, the line separating secular and sectarian education is increasingly
murky. Are these schools a beachhead for valuable cultural, linguistic,
and ethnic learning? Or are they a backdoor entry into state-sponsored
religion? This thoughtful book explores this complex terrain and emerges
with a rather cloudy answer: “The combination of dramatic public policy
initiatives proclaiming charter schools as the answer to genuine school
reform, relaxed public attitudes to the separation issue, and apparent
judicial confusion regarding the wall of separation have left us with
standards which are barely discernable.” To prove their point, the
authors offer case studies of a Catholic charter school that rents space
from the local archdiocese, a Hebrew charter school that offers a
“modern Jewish education,” and another with an Islamic dress code.
Stepping away from sectarian schools, the authors also question
ethnically-based charter schools. Is a charter school that teaches
Arabic culture, including the Qu’ran, too religious? What about one that
uses the Bible as a key text? Debates over religious instruction in
public schools have raged pretty much since Horace Mann; this book
further stokes that fiery conversation.

Janet D. Mulvey, Bruce S. Cooper, and Arthur T. Maloney, “Blurring the Lines: Charter, Public, Private, and Religious Schools Come Together,” (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc., 2010).

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