Public Charter School or Public Christian School?

Creationists who control the Texas State Board of Education aren’t focused just on pushing religion-based arguments in public school science classes. On Friday they voted to allow a Christian school to convert into a publicly funded charter school.

The full board voted unanimously to grant charters to six schools. The board’s seven creationist Republicans and a Democrat who often votes with that bloc, Rick Agosto of San Antonio, pushed through approval for two others, including TLC Academy of San Angelo. Both schools received lower evaluations than other applicants that did not get approval from the board. Other board members also raised questions about financial issues at TLC. Even so, the creationist bloc pushed for and got approval.

TLC’s case is only the latest in a growing trend of religious schools converting into taxpayer-funded public charter schools. TLC’s enrollment application currently asks what church the student’s family attends, whether both parents are Christians, whether the student believes in Jesus and how often the family attends church. Of course, the school will no longer be able to ask such questions as a public charter school. In addition, it must agree to use a secular curriculum, and any religious instruction can occur only before or after school hours (presumably on a voluntary basis for students). But we have some questions:

1. Why did TLC and another applicant get approval over others with better evaluations?

2. Why would a Christian school want to surrender its unique role as a religious educator to become a public charter school? Does it really want to give up that role?

3. Will religious instruction (presumably outside of school hours) be truly voluntary for students? With the state having done such a poor job overseeing many other charter schools plagued by poor academic performance and gross financial mismanagement, who will be monitoring whether formerly religious schools are offering a truly secular curriculum?

There’s nothing at all wrong with parents choosing to educate their children at a religious school. But taxpayers have a right to insist that the public schools they fund not promote religious beliefs they might not share. Will that happen as TLC and other religious schools line up at the public trough as new charter schools?

4 thoughts on “Public Charter School or Public Christian School?

  1. 1. So who do we contact to demand an answer to the question of what made TLC more “worthy” of a charter?

    2. I suppose we should ask TLC directly why they would want to change missions? Perhaps we getting the answer in writing for publication would be useful.

    3. Monitoring unfortunately is the hardest issue to address.

  2. To begin to address the questions posed here, someone has to read the applications for Charter (public) status. There must be some expressed reason in the application for change for private to public status? And, carefully going over the performance evaluations of these applicants might give a clue as to whether there is a case against the Board, publicly or legally, for granting Charter status to some schools and not others. The SBOE does have a fiduciary to Texas and Texans, and the boundary between church and state is still written into our fundamental law. As noted in other comments, the issue will be monitoring whether publicly chartered, previously sectarian faith based schools, actually play by the imposed restrictions. Looks like “intelligent” incrementalism to me. Wonder how many Muslim students are enrolled there?

  3. I hope Texas is also on its way out of the dark ages, as we watch our new US president take the oath of office. When our state board of education votes against education, it is a frightening time to live. Next thing you know they’ll be torturing people, kidnapping and putting Americans in dungens, etc etc… The mess starts when ignorance is sold as education.

    Let us all evolve,

  4. My daughter attended Tlca in San Angelo,Tx last year. It was the absolute worst school experience. She has ever had. The staff is unprofessional the school is unorganized and could not be farther from a Christian based school. The enrichment class that was suppose to be for daily bible study was used for a study/ goof off period. Everytime I went in the office last year there were at least half a dozen kids in there just sitting around instead of in class. One teacher/ coach was fired because he was on facebook or espn sports all the time. My daughter had a verbally abusive science teacher that they kept on staff just because of his past coaching records. Walt Landers the founder lied to parents several times about the progress of the school. He vowed that this would not be a school where trouble makers would be allowed but as the year progressed he started letting kids from other schools that had been expelled for disiplinary reasons into TLCA in order to build his enrollment. They push leadership but they can’t teach it because neither the faculty, administration or other staff display leadership qualities. Thank God we moved there is noway I would send my child there again or ever recommend it to anyone