Port: The school choice bill isn’t about religion; it’s about empowering parents


Front closeup view of a yellow school bus

MINOT, N.D. — I’m an atheist, so when it comes to religious schools, I don’t have a dog in the hunt.

My family doesn’t attend church. My kids attend public school. We aren’t interested in sending them to a religious school. I’m sure the academic instruction at those schools is fine, but I’m not interested in the religious curriculum.

If my kids want religion, they can find their own path to it. That’s my choice as a parent. It doesn’t have to be everybody’s choice.

I am dismayed at the antipathy inveighed toward school choice legislation on the cusp of being passed in Bismarck. House Bill 1532 , introduced by Rep. Claire Cory, a Republican from Grand Forks, has passed the House on a 54-40 vote and just got a 4-2 “do pass” recommendation from the Senate’s Education Committee.

There are no guarantees it will pass a floor vote in the Senate — proposals like this have died many times in the legislature in the past — but this one has a good shot. Helping it along is a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling which found that laws prohibiting state aid from flowing to schools with religious affiliations are unconstitutional. The court found, correctly, that school funding programs cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.

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