I think the first four people who responded to your last post claiming the cross isn’t necessarily religious are completely on the mark, particularly emphasizing that all deceased war veterans are not Christian.  I’d be happy to leave them have the last word.

Moving to another topic, we now have questions being raised about a new public “charter school” in New Jersey.  To me, such institutions pose two questions.  First, are they really subterfuges for having taxpayers shell out money for religious schools?  I have complained about the content of some curricular material at a similar Jewish “culture” charter school in Florida and changes were made.  On the other hand, some Jewish and Islamic charters do manage to confine their lesson plans and curricular materials to non-theological matters.  Obviously, it is impossible to know what teachers do or say that is not in the publicly available materials from such schools.  Over at Americans United, we’ll be taking a close look at the New Jersey plan.

There is an even bigger question, though.  Why do we even have charter
schools.  Some want them to “experiment” and be out from under onerous
or silly “regulations”.  If a school system thinks it has a bad
regulatory atmosphere, why not just get rid of the bad rules for every
school?  Lately, more charters are focused on “unique” learning
experiences.  I’m not too troubled if what is “unique” is a focus on
languages or science.  However, when that focus is on particularly
ethnic or religious “cultures”, I’m very uncomfortable.  Remember, Jay,
these are all public schools–and public schools were such a great
development in this country precisely because in theory (not always in
practice, obviously) they served as a “melting pot” of cultures and
backgrounds.  Learning to live and study in environs reflecting the
post-school culture still sounds like a good idea to me.  It certainly
was for my children.  (Thumbs up to my daughter who will graduate from
the University of Virginia Law School on Sunday.  Don’t worry, she’s not joining the Americans United legal staff.)

More from Beliefnet and our partners