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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a brief history of the religious school choice lobby. The chapter explains how religionists, composed mostly of Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christians, came to advocate for the use of government funds for parochial schools. Leo Pfeffer and the American Jewish Congress opposed the use of federal funds for parochial schools, and by the late 1970s their advocacy had swayed the courts to prevent all but paltry sums of federal funds from going to private religious schools. This led school choice advocates to find alternative means of funding, namely tax credits and vouchers that aren’t regulated by the government. Given the growing divisions and tensions surrounding educational policy and religious constituents, we need to examine this history so we can better understand how to move forward. The chapter concludes with questions for educational policymakers concerning how the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution should inform government policy surrounding religion and education.

Keywords: privatization, vouchers, school choice, school funding, parochial schools, private schools, religion, Leo Pfeffer, American Jewish Congress, Establishment Clause

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