Lynn v. Sekulow

Lynn v. Sekulow

Nothing Wrong with Charter Schools

posted by Jay Sekulow

Barry, congratulations to your daughter on her graduation.  It is that time of year – my son just graduated from Regent University School of Law.


The New Jersey school sounds perfectly legitimate from a constitutional standpoint. The article states that the school “would steer clear of religion while teaching a vital 21st-century skill–a second language that would prepare students for the global economy.” The school’s co-founder said, “It’s not a Jewish school. . . . We’re not teaching any religion.”


It sounds like the school’s instruction is consistent with United States Department of Education Guidelines on Religious Expression in Public Schools updated in 1998, that state:

Teaching about religion: Public schools may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about religion, including the Bible or other scripture: the history of religion, comparative religion, the Bible (or other scripture)-as-literature, and the role of religion in the history of the United States and other countries all are permissible public school subjects. Similarly, it is permissible to consider religious influences on art, music, literature, and social studies. Although public schools may teach about religious holidays, including their religious aspects, and may celebrate the secular aspects of holidays, schools may not observe holidays as religious events or promote such observance by students.


From a policy standpoint, the New Jersey charter school sounds like a great idea. I am in Israel now with Regent University law and government students and know firsthand the importance of helping students understand the cultural, legal, political, historical, religious, social, and economic factors that make the Middle East such a volatile place. Promoting stability, democracy, and the rule of law in the Middle East is key to our national and economic security, and the New Jersey charter school will certainly help to equip students to contribute to that endeavor.


Experimentation and state and local control have always been hallmarks of our system of public education. A “one size fits all” approach dictated by Washington bureaucrats or the National Education Association is not the answer. Charter schools, voucher programs, and other innovative ideas have drawn support from parents who are dissatisfied with the status quo in their local public schools.


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posted May 21, 2009 at 12:03 am

Charter schools may have a place only if they truly endeavor to provide a specialized focus as part of the overall education. These place need to be available to all students though. The notion that one needs to be a member of a particular ethnic group to attend seems like an abuse of taxpayer funding to me. I don’t think that Hebrew students need a special charter school any more than one for Goth Skateboarders. This is just not the way we do things in America. This stuff should be like the US Postal Service. The local post office services everyone in the local community regardless of race, religion, etc.
Also, I hear people say that teaching “comparative religion” is acceptable. Not to me. If you really wanted to teach about religion and actually touch upon the factual negative aspects of religion, then maybe that would be okay but I am thinking that is not what is taught. In fact, reading your above description of what is allowable, it sounds more to me like a tourist brochure than any objective comparison; only highlighting a few glorious facades but never really showing the seedier parts of town. That kind of “comparative” study seems like both a fraudulent sales job and a waste of valuable classroom time.

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posted May 21, 2009 at 12:20 am

Liberals crying about charter schools meantioning religion or as Barry voices his worries and concerns over what public school teachers may touch on in the way of allowing the thought of God or Christ to enter the hallowed threshold of State owned property.
This is a sham and a carnival show especially recently as the world heralds the NEW MISSING LINK named Ida!
We can bet public schools will be teaching this as fact when it is no more than wishful guessing! Guessing if the image behind the RESIN ENCASED SHRINE is even a real fossil or does it take its place in the HALLS OF HOAXES along with the Java and Peking man?
I have a number of GOLD BARS I am offering to first come first serve…they weigh about a pound and I’ll sell them for $1000 each…I have encased them in a nice thick bed of EPOXY so the elements can’t get to them…of course no one can examine them because it will destroy the epoxy viewing case but JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT…THEY ARE REAL GOLD BARS!!! WORTH TEN TIMES WHAT I’M ASKING!!!!
This is the same as evolutionists claiming IDA the LEMUR is a MISSING LINK but no one can get to it to examine it…how gullible are we?
Public schools should either be allowed to teach Christianity and Creation OR be BANNED FROM TEACHING IDA IS A TRUE FOSSIL AND A MISSING LINK!

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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted May 21, 2009 at 3:13 am

Hi Mr. Rich,
You stated that charter schools have a place only if they provide a specialized focus along with availability to all students. The very definition of charter schools permits these types of schools the latitude to function in non-traditional ways in comparison to standard public schools, including the option to choose which students they admit based upon the school’s mission and type of students which are served. The definition of a charter school by US Charter Schools is as follows:
“A nonsectarian public school of choice that operates with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. The ‘charter’ establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success.”
Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable for these types of schools to have selective admission criteria based on ethnic or religious background since this selectivity defines, aligns, and differentiates the charter from the more traditional public schools. If schools adhere to the Guidelines of Religious Expression in Public Schools, cited by Dr. Sekulow supra, there should be no problem with charter schools receiving public funds.
You also state the teaching of comparative religion is unacceptable to you because you do not think “the factual negative aspects of religion” are being taught. First of all, why would you focus only on the negative aspects of religion unless you are a hardcore pessimist? As with any subject in life, why would you not present a balanced approach offering both the positive and negative aspects of various religions? In addition, do you have any solid, empirical evidence or data that what you say is actually being taught? Get the facts straight here.
Many research studies have confirmed the importance of religion on a person’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. Personally, it is idiosyncratic for a person not be religious considering the multitude of benefits received such as improvement of “health, academic achievement, economic well-being, self-control, self-esteem, empathy, and compassion

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posted May 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Charter schools may have a place only if they truly endeavor to provide a specialized focus as part of the overall education
Absolutely, and elementary school students do not benefit from any specialized focus. Elementary school is the place for every student to learn the basics of math, reading, spelling, and the like. Without those basics, no individual is able to function in society.
Yet I read of charter schools like a “military charter school” in my state at the elementary level. What in the name of all that’s good can be learned by an elementary school aged child in a military school?
Someone needs to use some good sense about these charter schools. If a child has a special talent in, say, performing arts, by all means that talent needs to be developed, and with funding for the arts being cut at the national and state levels the opportunities for specific instruction in art are becoming scarce as hen’s teeth. The same thing goes for children with foreign language ability, because regular high schools have dropped the foreign language requirement in most cases.
I still say, though, that these would be better included in the regular high school curriculum and that the main objective of most charter schools is to eliminate the presence of minority students in their schools.

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posted May 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Public schools should either be allowed to teach Christianity and Creation OR be BANNED FROM TEACHING IDA IS A TRUE FOSSIL AND A MISSING LINK!
How come you can’t get your own Christian colleges and universities to stop teaching evolution and instead teach creationism? Until you can get the Christian academic community to do this you have no case. So go take your creationist fantasies down to any Christian college or university of your choice and demand they teach them instead of creationism. What you’re afraid they’ll laugh in your face? They certainly will! ROFL!

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posted May 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

instead of evolution I mean. Your Name your special pleading is pathetic.

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Cara Floyd

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

You should not have to plead at all for children to have the right to be born in The United States of America. Purple People Purple hearts for the children fallen to war of Embryonic Stem-Cell and abortion. This is a war in our very own country and around the world. Posterity rights are written in The United States Constitution. Ebryonic Stem-Cells and unborn children at any stage of the growing process are our posterity. Purple Hearts, Cara Floyd

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posted May 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Harry Outdoors,
Your statements are completely incomprehensible.
N. Lindzee Lindholm,
I disagree. Chartering a school along ethnic lines is contrary to any American ideal. I am okay with specialized studies provided that the program is available to all students, not just a select few based upon ethnic, religious or cultural qualifiers. I really don’t think we need a charter school for Muslim children, Jewish children or as I said earlier, Goth Skateboarders. I would especially prohibit religious qualifiers. Once you deny a student admission to a publicly funded school on the basis of that person’s religious affiliation, you have violated the the protections of the 1st Amendment. As well, if you are comfortable with the notion of a “whites only” school, a “black only” school, etc, etc, you may need to re-think what you are really achieving.
As to the “comparative religions” concept, the problem is that everyone is too timid to speak the real truth about religion. While you may think there are many studies “proving” the benefits of religion, I would counter that that all of these would be biased and highly suspect. As well, many studies show quite the contrary. Even further, if any benefits could ever be documented there would still be alternative explanations for these benefits. Increased interaction with family members and stronger extended support systems could explain many health benefits. These are certainly fine and wonderful things but they are a long way off from documenting any benefits derived from the supernatural.
You also ask why I would focus on the negative. Because facts are facts. Wishing that the horrors of religion never happened doesn’t change the fact that they did. School is about facts, not beliefs.

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Your Name

posted May 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Charter Schools,
Need to get every family to homeschool not only will the parents get smart but also the kids. Plus the family will strengthen too.
Public schools have become Gov-ment training camps.
Another question for Jay and Barry, where exactly in the Constitution does it say separation of church and state? Also if Barry wants separation then why is the church given 501 C3 status which they don´t need. Plus now FEMA is educating prechers to tow the gov-ment line where is the separation? Please advise… Normally I would post this on a different contact us e-mail but ya only have blogs…
bob gormley

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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted May 24, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Hi Mr. Rich,
This particular school is not chartering the institution along ethnic lines. The co-founder stated, “It’s not a Jewish school. . . . We’re not teaching any religion.” Moreover, the school is operated under the auspices of Guidelines for Public Schools and I repeat, is not teaching religion. If the charter’s mission is to expand knowledge of Hebraic language, then the school may seek candidates who align with the mission or aim of this particular charter, adhering to the very definition of a charter school. Racial segregation of schools, which I am a vehemently strong dissenter of being an eclectic appreciator and respecter of various cultures and ethnicities, is not the same as using admission criteria that seeks to align with the particular objective of the charter school.
You state there are studies that counter the benefits of being religious but fail to name even one empirical study. Frankly, I don’t understand why you are so morose about religion. Show some support for your answer please.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 1:46 am

N. Linzee Lindholm,
I wouldn’t say I am morose about religion, more like abject disgust with all things religious.
You will likely disagree but to any reasonable person, all religions fail on the philosophical front. The concept of “original sin” is enough to make even the most hardened stoic start to giggle. Priestly celibacy will make that same stoic shed tears.
Certainly, religion’s only saving grace is in the social arena. The root of the very word itself speaks to the binding ties of a common belief. We both know the historical ills of religion. Frankly, they are no different than the so-called secular ills of the Khmer Rouge, Stalinists, and Charlie Manson. Anytime people get together around irrational beliefs, not a lot of good things are going to happen. The problem is never some wingnut off in the corner thinking that Jesus can hydroplane across a lake. Nobody really cares about eccentric beliefs. The trouble comes when you get two of these same lunatics together wanting to make sure that everyone else thinks the same thing. Eventually, they use a club to enforce this belief.
Take the example of gay marriage. It hurts no one if a gay couple down the street gets married. Yet, because it is outside the cloistered mindset of evangelicals, its acceptance is fought with bitter vehemence. For reasons that can only speak to the primitive nature of man, religious folks often tend to think that their religious practices should become law. The effect is to make me practice your religion even if I don’t believe in it.
As well, eventually religious folks will not only want me to practice their faith but also pay for it. Imagine, taxing all taxpayers to fund vouchers and then telling some poor child that he can go to a school his parents paid for because only good little Christians can go. Quite disgusting really.
Hey, if you want to join a cult, that is your business. You just can expect me to think it sane, respect it, or even think it relevant. If you join a cult, it is your problem not mine. I would like to keep it that way.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 1:51 am

s/b “can’t go to a school”

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