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Louisiana State Legislator Shocked To Discover Religious Freedom Includes Muslims

A Louisiana State Legislator who was a strong supporter of Governor Bobby Jindal’s recently passed school voucher program, which includes provisions that allow parents to use the vouchers they would receive for religiously-affiliated schools, is now second guessing her support after realizing that the program doesn’t just apply to Christian schools: [Free registration required at link]

WATSON — Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

(…)

During debate over the MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) funding formula, Hodges learned more about the consequences of the educational changes. She voted against the new MFP funding formula; Schexnayder voted for it.

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

Yea, I always get the words “religious” and “Christian” mixed up too Representative Hodges.

These objections notwithstanding, the bill was passed in the law and the program will go into effect. There is already talk of lawsuits being filed to challenge to religious schools being eligible for the program. However, it’s worth noting that in the last ten years the Supreme Court has rejected First Amendment challenges to similar voucher programs put in place by the City of Cleveland and the State of Arizona, so it seems unlikely that these lawsuits would go anywhere.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    I don’t have an issue with these vocher programs being used at religious schools. Of course that would include any religious school, Christian, Muslim, Scientoligy, Wican, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  2. michael reynolds says:

    It would also include Scientology schools.

    This is such a great idea using tax money to help throwback religious denominations brainwash a new generation, stunt science and close young minds. That’ll show the Chinese we’re ready to compete! If by “compete” you mean subsidize ignorance.

    Republicans are idiots.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 0

  3. @Vast Variety:

    Agreed, as long as their is also some minimal standard that the institution has to pass in order to be considered part of the program (which does exist in Louisiana, where at least one Muslim school has already qualified for the program). We don’t want the vouchers to be going to “Billy Bob’s Bar and Middle School, after all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. @michael reynolds:

    If the kids still have to pass state tests in order to be considered eligible for degrees, etc I don’t see the problem. On the whole, I think parents are better judges of what is best for their children then school boards, administrators, and bureaucrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  5. rudderpedals says:

    @Doug Mataconis: One problem with the wait and see approach is that by the time the kids take and fail the tests the perps will be long gone with the public funds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. @rudderpedals:

    As opposed to the perps in the public school system who take the money and fail the children on a daily basis?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  7. DRS says:

    Doug, may the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with his Noodley Appendage until you see the light. You will find your destiny with the other Pastafarians once you surrender to His Truth.

    Seriously, some representatives need to get out more.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  8. PJ says:

    It’s obviously clear that Bobby Jindal is a secret Muslim hell bent on destroying Louisiana.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  9. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    On the whole, I think parents are better judges of what is best for their children then school boards, administrators, and bureaucrats.

    A lot of parents are stupid and want their kids to be equally stupid. So I guess it depends on what your definition of “better” is.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  10. DC Loser says:

    And then there’s this.

    The top schools [] have just a handful of slots open….Far more openings are available at smaller, less prestigious religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students.

    The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.

    ….At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution. “We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children,” Carrier said.

    And this:

    Louisiana requires almost no accountability from voucher schools….While voucher students are required to take the same assessment tests as public school students, there are no penalties for private schools if they fail to measure up to their public counterparts. In fact, Gov. Jindal vetoed language in a 2011 appropriations bill that would have removed participating schools if their students’ scores lagged those in the lowest performing schools in the Recovery School District, which incorporates most New Orleans public schools.

    There’s more than meets the eye. Louisiana has its own state funded madrassas.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  11. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As opposed to the perps in the public school system who take the money and fail the children on a daily basis?

    It’s pretty tough to stage a fly-by-night scam for government funds at a public school. Pretty much impossible, really.

    As we already know, Louisiana has granted vouchers to “schools” that consist of little but Christian indoctrination videos. Inadequate facilities, no books or qualified teachers, no curriculum except for the Bible.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  12. sam says:

    ““Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,”

    Applications are being taken, I understand, for entrance into the Thomas Jefferson True Understanding of Jesus Christ, Not That of That Church Corrupted by the Introduction of Platonism into Christianity by A Bunch of Clerics Looking to Secure Lifetime Employment, Country Day School.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  13. @michael reynolds:

    This is such a great idea using tax money to help throwback religious denominations brainwash a new generation, stunt science and close young minds.

    Except there’s enough of them that they’re going to be doing that no matter how we organize the schools. If you have just public schools they’ll just get on the board and push their agenda there. I’d rather let them go off to their own schools so they can go wallow in their own intellectual filth while the rest of us can focus on getting a real education.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think you’re letting ideology trump actual evidence. As detailed by several above, many religious schools are making no effort at actual education. And the idea that parents always know best flies in the face of the logic of education, which is that successive generations should add to knowledge, not just regurgitate their parents’ beliefs.

    Some denominations will subordinate (or accomodate) doctrine to data, but far from all. Your argument is an argument for madrassas. Presumably the parents in Saudi Arabia and Taliban Afghanistan also think they know best. Don’t you wish some responsible government were educating their kids rather than the local religious nut?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  15. @Doug Mataconis: Disagree with this premise. There’s a difference between “teaching to the test”, which these schools would have to do, and actually learning something of value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. george says:

    I have to assume she’s really just covering up after the effect – I can’t believe that anyone seriously would have been as stupid as she claims to have been (ie not realizing “religious” refers to all religions). Pretty much standard “polititianese” for “some voters have criticized my decision, so I’m trying to have it both ways”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Vast Variety says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Billy Bob’s Bar and Middle School roughly describes the public High School I graduated from in Southern Iowa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This Watson character is a self-parody of a vacant thumper-bot.

    That aside, school vouchers are a no brainer. The public K-12 systems over the past few decades have degenerated into cesspools. Nowhere is that more readily apparent than in the big Democrat cities, e.g., Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, Philly, Oakland, L.A., San Francisco, Boston, Newark, Baltimore, etc. Generally speaking the kids who are saddled with attending those public schools are so dumbed down they’re only one notch above EEG flatliners. Unions + liberals + Democrats + collective bargaining + lack of real screening mechanisms + aversions to at will employment and merit compensation = Loopyland. Any program that gives parents the ability to get away from those miasmas is a good program.

    Separate but related topic: Jindal is the goods. Smart, pragmatic and now with more than a modicum of heavy experience to boot. Hopefully he’ll one day become Prez. The country could do a helluva lot worse.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 18

  19. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Oops, this Hodges character, from Watson, that is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Vast Variety says:

    Religious schools and charter schools can work. If the Department of Education actually set a national standard of what children were required to learn at each grade level nationwide (and not state by state) and tested on it every semester it would work. The religious courses these types of schools would add would simply be on top of the national standards. An accreditation process would also help ensure that schools met the national standards.

    if we did that and then made all of the schools, private and public, compete for those voucher dollars then education standards might improve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Why does there need to be a “national standard”? Why does some bureaucrat in Washington need to decide how schools in Louisiana, or Washington State, or Minnesota should be run? This is a state and local issue and needs to remain so

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  22. swbarnes2 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We don’t want the vouchers to be going to “Billy Bob’s Bar and Middle School, after all.

    Whom do you mean by “we”? If you mean conservatives, well, we can all read the Texas Republican party platform, we all know what conservatives want education to be. It’s not like the Texas Republican party is some tiny uninfluential fringe. Or rather, it’s fringe the way you say birthers are fringe, which means it’s pretty mainstream for conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. al-Ameda says:

    The public school system is neither a complete success nor a complete failure.

    In fact it is pretty damned easy to find the best public schools in any major urban area.

    Get a map, shade the areas with incomes that are upper middle class and higher, and there you’ll find the schools that have high performance metrics – non-existent dropout rates, high SAT test scores, kids go on to good colleges, and so forth. Those schools usually have high participation rates in school activities, parents are actively involved, and administration and faculty are good because they are held accountable by parents and their elected school board.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  24. PogueMahone says:

    @Doug Mataconis: On the whole, I think parents are better judges of what is best for their children then school boards, administrators, and bureaucrats.

    And yet, they can have their cake and eat it too.
    Parents can send their children to whatever nutbag school they want. That doesn’t mean that it has to be taxpayer subsidized.

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Get a map, shade the areas with incomes that are upper middle class and higher, and there you’ll find the schools that have high performance metrics – non-existent dropout rates, high SAT test scores, kids go on to good colleges, and so forth. Those schools usually have high participation rates in school activities, parents are actively involved, and administration and faculty are good because they are held accountable by parents and their elected school board.

    Bingo…it’s pathetic that certain people want to use public schools to push their own ideologies and agendas, when the truth of the matter is that the best schools are those that get the most parental involvement and resources for their students…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  26. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’ll have you know that Billy Bob’s is one of the more prestigeous bar/middle schools in all of Louisianna.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Religious freedom includes Muslims, which is not to say that Muslims, or Islam, include religious freedom.

    Similarly, I think that there should be a vote of thanks for all those religious and private schools that have been paying to actually educate their children at their parents own expense while they bear the same tax (mandate ???) burden everyone else does. I think of it as a kind of reverse-voucher system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Meanwhile, Democrats all across the nation still can’t accept that religious freedom includes Christians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  29. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: OK, no one wants to answer, but two downdings. Guess I better show an example or two.

    Christians in Dearborn, Michigan were pelted with stones and bottles for preaching in public — while police stood by and did nothing.

    And let’s not overlook the frothing hatred and intolerance shown here whenever the Catholic Church is brought up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And let’s not overlook the frothing hatred and intolerance shown here whenever the Catholic Church is brought up.

    Oh really? (1) Let’s not overlook the intolerance of the Catholic Church Hierarchy toward their many of their nuns and priest who are involved in projects that address poverty, health care, economic and social injustice. (2) Let’s not overlook the abject hypocrisy of the Church Hierarchy in their partisan political decision decision to oppose the ACA insurance mandate, when previously they have accepted such a mandate in many states. Then they have the nerve to cloak their partisanship in the mantle of “principle.” (3) Principle? Interesting that for nearly 30 years principle did not matter as the Church Hierarchy looked the other way while many of their priests molested children. (4) Principles with respect to use of birth control? Please, for years, a great majority catholic women of child bearing age have disregarded Church teachings and availed themselves of artificial birth control.

    Sincerely yours, a lapsed Catholic
    (who went through all the sacraments up to marriage.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Don’t worry, we won’t rest until each and every monotheistic moron of any abrahamic religion is kicked to the curb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  32. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: You know, if I’d explicitly asked for a typical Catholic-bashing comment, I doubt I’d have gotten as good a one as you just did.

    And I’m not saying the Church is right or good, only that they certainly don’t benefit from “religious tolerance” in these parts… and a lot of other places, too. Catholic hatredd, it seems, is one of the acceptable bigotries on the left.

    Personally, considering the Church’s efforts on “social justice” and liberal social causes and politics for decades, I find myself chortling a little as their “allies” are turning on them, but it’s still wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    @al-Ameda: You know, if I’d explicitly asked for a typical Catholic-bashing comment, I doubt I’d have gotten as good a one as you just did.

    … and I went light on the Church.
    Others might not be so generous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Where in that 22 minute video is the actual stoning? I watched it and all I saw was a couple cases of people throwing something at them and that was across the whole 22 minutes of video. Once again reality doesn’t stand up with your wild spin.

    Look idiots exist everywhere and I don’t think you’re going to find many if anyone here to defend it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Catholic hatredd, it seems, is one of the acceptable bigotries on the left.

    Hmm…perhaps like Muslim hatred on the right…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @An Interested Party: Speaking strictly for myself, I have a lot of sympathy for Muslims. They are the most frequent victims of Islamist terror and slaughter. The Islamists kill a hell of a lot more Muslims than they do of any other group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Oh? So your beef is with Islamist terrorists only? Not with the Muslim faith or the majority of the people who practice it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @An Interested Party: I don’t give a rat’s ass what people believe. I care about how they practice it. And I got a big problem with those that kill others in the name of Allah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Phillip says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: But when it comes to child molesters and the good catholic bishops who cover up/enable them, you’re just peachy, huh?

    if I’d explicitly asked for a typical Catholic-bashing comment

    I didn’t realizing speaking the truth (as you are unable to refute a single point in @al-Ameda: ‘s post) was “Catholic-bashing”.. I guess Jesus was a Jew basher (Matthew 23:13-39). Right? Or maybe the Conservapedia bible has removed those passages, as no good conservative would say such things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Phillip: I dunno where you got the idea that I’m some kind of staunch Catholic “Defender of the Faith,” but I ain’t. I was just noting that — especially in light of the ObamaCare fight and its demands on Catholic institutions — bigotry against Catholics seems to be entirely acceptable on the Left nowadays.

    Mormons, too, come to think of it. Funny how that prejudice didn’t rear its ugly head when Harry Reid was rising to power…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. An Interested Party says:

    …bigotry against Catholics seems to be entirely acceptable on the Left nowadays.

    Just as 9/11 has made bigotry against Muslims entirely acceptable on the Right…

    Mormons, too, come to think of it.

    Considering that Evangelicals are generally on the Right, it isn’t the Left that Romney has to worry about…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @An Interested Party: Nah, just stroll through the comments sections here. Liberals spend about half their time talking about how creepy scary weird Mormonism is, the other half trying to stir up a fight between Mormons and fundamental Christians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. An Interested Party says:

    An actual poll of Republicans is a better gauge than a few comments on one blog…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Liberals spend about half their time talking about how creepy scary weird Mormonism is, the other half trying to stir up a fight between Mormons and fundamental Christians.

    Total bullshit. Not even remotely supported by the facts. Every word Jenos types is a lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0