Every child deserves access to a high-quality public education. Ensuring that access exists requires that publicly funded schools are open to ALL students and do not segregate or discriminate against children on the basis of income, English proficiency, special needs, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
Eliminating the “non-sectarian” requirement from our State’s special education law is unconscionable—it threatens, actually overturns that principle by amending the types of facilities in which a school district may place a special education student, including instructional programs in sectarian or religious schools that are allowed to discriminate in admissions. Such schools have absolutely no place in our public school system, or any right to get any of our tax dollars
Recent testimony to New Jersey’s Assembly Education Committee reveals that religious schools that could receive large sums of local public school dollars, if this bill became law, “can limit admissions not just to co-religionists, but also to only those students—and the parents of students—who follow its teachings and tenets. Religious schools can expel a student for refusing to take a religious oath; for being gay, or having gay parents; for being pregnant, or having a parent who is unwed and pregnant. They can segregate students or apply different policies based on gender.”
Proponents of the bill have not demonstrated a need for this type of placement, nor have they provided testimony on a shortage of non-sectarian facilities that can provide quality instruction for special education students. Frankly, even if they did, I would be in opposition—at that point, should it ever occur, I would expect them to be required to drop the discriminatory policies if they were to obtain any public funding whatsoever.
This is a bad bill; it must not advance in the legislature!
[N.B.: This is my customization of Save Our Schools NJ‘s petition to New Jersey legislators.]