Supreme Court work-around on religious school tuition introduced in Senate

By Guy Page

The Vermont Senate has introduced its long-promised work-around of a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring towns with no high schools to provide tuition to approved, independent religious schools.

S.66 would require school districts with no high schools to designate up to three schools to choose from — either public or an approved independent schools.

However, the bill also would dramatically redefine what constitutes an approved independent school. Without mentioning the religious nature (if any) of the school, the bill requires independent schools “eligible for designation” meet at least three of the four requirements:

  1. The recognized independent school serves as a regional CTE center [tech school] as defined in section 1522 of this title.
  2. The recognized independent school was established through the granting of a charter by the Vermont General Assembly.
  3. The recognized independent school qualified as a public school under the definition of “public school” in effect on June 30, 1991.
  4. The recognized independent school is designated under state law as an employer of teachers as defined by law covering the State Teachers’ Retirement System of Vermont.

The crafters of S.66 appear to have identified the unique origins and hiring practices of religious schools (such as Rice Memorial High School, a Catholic parochial school in South Burlington) and written the new requirements accordingly — without explicitly mentioning religion or any conflict with LGBTQ-related hiring and curriculum that, among other issues, senators last year said they found objectionable about paying public tuition to these schools.

Most religious schools were founded because state schools were deemed incompatible with religious values and practices, and thus have no charter from the General Assembly. Also, most religious schools do not follow union-based hiring and compensation applying to public school teachers.

The sponsors are:

At present, school districts that lack their own high schools may now, at the parents’ request, tuition students to parochial and other religious schools. This recent development followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision of Carson V. Makin and a subsequent legal settlement with the State of Vermont, negotiated on behalf of parents by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the tuition program was available to districts without a public high school, helping high schoolers to attend a private school — a secular one — of their choice. High school students in Maine fell under a similar program that was also excluding religious schools until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Makin that the state was unlawfully discriminating against them.

If S66 becomes law, it could face a legal challenge due to it being an attempted ‘workaround’ of the Makin decision prohibiting unlawful discrimination.

Senators last session repeatedly said they were frustrated in their efforts to find an acceptable legal solution to requiring tuition payments to parochial schools. They promised a bill would be introduced this year.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Public domain

9 thoughts on “Supreme Court work-around on religious school tuition introduced in Senate

  1. This reminds me of the reason behind the saying ,I may get some of the history slightly wrong but here it seems to fit exactly.

    This is a “rule of thumb “moment . That rule was put in place because husbands were so brutal, daily beating their wives that the community had to take steps to curb the practice and acceptance of such atrocious corporal punishment for any perceived challenge to his dominance.
    Hence a rule stating that no husband may beat his wife with anything larger than his thumb. and it was actually enforced so that is one reason we still remember but use improperly the term “rule of thumb”
    This is just like it… THEY want to make going to religious schools a deterrent, a problem. But THEY can’t, so THEY will make a rule saying you can (go to special “you decided” schools) but keep it quite if you win the battle with the state because we put funky arbitrary restrictions to make it all but impossible to use OUR SCHOOL TAX MONEY as WE want for the school WE want. That amounts to nothing more than more of the same. See how easy it is, nothing has changed, still more stupid. just like THEYy want . Making a new law that is no different from the old law, that was illega,l you get more evidence that our representatives are not in this for we the people but for their paying donors, high paying donors.

    So ultimately they want to keep beating their wives. That being us.

    As always I just have one question. Who asked for this. Who paid you to put this forth. and if no one did, who the hell do you think you are, you have no right to place such restriction on anyone for any reason. We never gave you such authority.

  2. Vermont Senate Bill S. 66 – Two Wolves and a Lamb

    Re: True North Reports recently published a commentary by Stan Greer, senior research associate for the National Institute for Labor Relations Research. To quote McCormick again, if this chronic failure of America’s Big Labor-dominated government schools “isn’t an indictment of the system, and this isn’t enough to wake people up, we’re in trouble.”

    Make no mistake. Some of us, here in Vermont at least, are in big trouble.

    Senate Bill S.66 is a tyrannical attack on all parents and local school boards. It seeks to regulate independent schools and force them to operate under the same failed governance in which Vermont’s monopoly schools operate.

    S. 66 also repeals Title 16: Education, Chapter 021: Maintenance Of Public Schools § 822. School district to maintain public high schools or pay tuition.

    This is governance that has served Vermonters well for more than 100 years and reads as follows.

    (c)(1) A school district may both maintain a high school and furnish high school education by paying tuition:

    (A) to a public school as in the judgment of the school board may best serve the interests of the students; or

    (B) to an approved independent school or an independent school meeting education quality standards if the school board judges that a student has unique educational needs that cannot be served within the district or at a nearby public school.

    (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.

    Never mind that Vermonters in my school district are paying as much today to educate a first grader as it costs to send a student to Castleton State University for a full year of undergraduate studies – INCLUDING room and board. Never mind that, on average, only 40% of Vermont’s public-school students meet grade level standards. And never mind parental disagreements over curricula.

    S. 66 seeks only to strengthen the grip of Vermont’s failed public-school monopoly.

    The legislature, funded by the special interest groups profiting from the monopolized control of tax-dollars, is nothing short of corrupt. It exemplifies the proverbial metaphor of ‘two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch’, and freedom-loving Vermonters are the main course. With the wolves in a super-majority in the statehouse, the only recourse is to ‘get out of Dodge’ – be that getting your kids out of the public schools (if you can afford to do so) or moving to a State that still respects the U.S. Constitution.

    • And never mind that Vermont school officials say students’ mental health is at ‘a breaking point’….

      The public school cartel is, by its own admission, dangerous for Vermont students. Not only can these schools vaccinate children without notifying their parents, it’s little wonder then that Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Lynn Cota, says: “There comes a point — a breaking point — where things start to break. And I think that we are dangerously close to a breaking point with all that we’re trying to hold in public education.”

      “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” Luke 23:28

      • In 1972, the SCOTUS held that state laws requiring children to attend school until they are 16 violate the constitutional rights of the Amish to free exercise of religion.

        Yep! You read that correctly. This is why I’m so adamantly against what the Vermont legislature and the cronies in our Agency of Education and education special interest cartels are doing. They are lawless. And, as Orwell warned… “All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed, they must rely exclusively on force.”

        Welcome to Vermont!

  3. “Senators last session repeatedly said they were frustrated in their efforts to find an acceptable legal solution” – like a tuition assistance program that distributes tuition funds to parents, taking it out of the realm of government. Parents then determine where it goes, presumably rewarding those institutions they feel best serve the interests of their offspring. That promotes competition among schools for successful educational excellence. Competitive entrance exams benefit students insofar as they tend to group students by learned knowledge and learning potential rather than age or geographic location – hopefully ameliorating the tragedy of students who become outpaced by their class and, unable to keep up, won’t realize even their own educational potential. I don’t doubt, in your own educational careers, you’ve seen students who fail and drop out because they can’t keep up with the material while others master it and move on – whereas, in a class of their peers covering the same material less intensively the slower pace would encourage their continued participation. I do not belittle them: Much of what we learn in detail would be adequately learned in general. It has little significant importance save to get a good test grade in school. It does not deny them success in the competitive world, e.g. a recent Biden nominee for a U.S. District Court Judge seat couldn’t identify the Constitution’s Article Two. Heck, I can do that. I can’t do it for most of the Constitution, but the first three articles define the three branches of the federal government.

  4. Public schools have gone downhill ever since the Catholic schools started closing. Ponder that reality. They set the standards that public schools could not meet, most of the catholic schools still in operation have 95% poor kids in them, and yet they learn and graduate. Not so from the public schools.

  5. This shows you where their hearts are.

    The reason why they wanted a separation from church and state is to protect the church. They didn’t want the state to come in and set up a theocracy. The two should not mix. But we have a state religion already and they don’t want competition, this is what is really going on. If people knew the truth, Vermont would change peacefully and quickly.

    Instead, our religion in Vermont is government, and should you speak against their god, you will be cancelled. It’s a fake religion, just like all the religions that rely upon mortals to enforce the will of their gods…..just like the Romans did. Just like many still do today.

    Look for the fruit, good fruit comes from good trees.

Comments are closed.