AFT’s Weingarten on Oklahoma Religious Charter School Approval
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Oklahoma approved a taxpayer-funded religious charter school:
“This decision not only threatens to siphon millions of dollars in public money into private hands, it strikes at the heart of our nation’s very foundations. The framers never intended to require public funding of religious institutions or religious schools.
“The combination of the Constitution’s free exercise clause and the concept of separation of church and state is what ensures religious freedom in the United States. This decision turns that idea on its head.
“It also turns on its head the concept that charter schools were supposed to be public schools run in a different way. And it vitiates the distinction between public and nonpublic religious schools in the eyes of Oklahoma.
“It is telling that a bipartisan coalition was opposed to the approval, and that only an obscure, hand-picked board of the governor’s own choosing was able to force it through.
“This ruling will no doubt end up at the Supreme Court. It is a clear and present danger, not only to ensuring public schools are open and accessible to all, but to religious liberty and freedom in our democracy writ large.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.