A reader posted a comment yesterday asking why I had a problem with religious schools receiving public funding. Aren’t there good religious schools. I pointed out that most of the religious schools that are funded by vouchers are not very good schools. The very good religious schools don’t have many seats available. The ones that do have seats available and need the money tend to be a certain type of Christian school that teaches creationism and uses textbooks that do not teach modern science, math, or history.

Then another comment arrived, this one from a man who is writing a book about education in Arizona.

I post this quote from a work in progress for the nice lady who wrote about Diane’s piece and asked whether there are good religious schools. Diane used a quote from me in the blog today.

Here are the Organizations already providing “scholarships” on the “tax credit” dime here in AZ. I am a proud Catholic School Graduate and I have grandchildren in Catholic Schools in New Hampshire.

Those choices were my parents and my children’s RELIGIOUS choice. They wanted their children indoctrinated into the Catholic Faith.

Catholic schools have their history in anti-Catholic sentiments going back to the KNOW NOTHING PARTY and anti-immigrant attitudes in the 1840s. There was a time when it was a “mortal sin” for Catholics to attend public school if a Catholic School was available..

We in AZ live in a state that allows a “Christian Scholarship” fund that doesn’t include any Catholic, or for that matter Mormon schools, that is a RED FLAG.

I ask the following.

How is it that the Senate president of the Arizona State Senate, can simultaneously be the executive director of a $17,064,168 organization, The Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization Inc., while having control over all of the bills that come up for voting in the Senate including those that benefit his organization?

o This while collecting a salary and other compensation of $145,705 per annum in 2014-2015 for directing the ACSTO.
 Source IRS Form 990 FY 2013: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/860/931/2014-860931047-0b056c5d-9.pdf

o Again the question is asked, “Politically would this be considered “permissible” if the organization was dedicated to promoting Catholic Schools and run by the Senate President who happened to be the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix?

o Researching the Organization in question one finds a list of the “participating schools”. That list which is provided below is devoid of any Catholic or Mormon Schools. Do they not fit the organization’s definition of Christian Schools? Would having a Muslim or Hindu Tax Credit group be okay with the legislature? How about an ATHEIST School?

 Bethany Christian School
 Christian Academy of Prescott
 Flagstaff Community Christian School
 Joy Christian School
 North Valley Christian Academy
 Northwest Christian School
 Paradise Valley Christian Prep
 Scottsdale Christian Academy
 Trinity Christian School (Prescott)

I am sure these are good programs but I have met some of their leadership and a lot of them ascribe to the philosophy that the world is 6000 years old.

• Catholic Education Arizona is an IRS 501(c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization and has never accepted gifts designated for individuals. Per state law, a school tuition organization cannot award, restrict or reserve scholarships solely on the basis of donor recommendation. A taxpayer may not claim a tax credit if the taxpayer agrees to swap donations with another taxpayer to benefit either taxpayer’s own dependent. This new law changes that.

o The rules for donating to a Catholic Educational Program speak volumes to the previous complaint regarding what is a Christian School. It required separate rules to “allow” the donations to go to Catholic Schools. The restrictions make it impossible for one to donate for their own child’s (or grandchildren’s) tuition.

 This is a taxpayer funded way to provide the scholarships that Catholics used to provide in their donations to the church of their choice.

 The leadership at this charity received compensation of $131,115 in 2013-2014. This was on revenue of $16,269,022.
 Source: IRS FORM 990 See: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/860/937/2014-860937587-0b8e0571-9.pdf

“Freedom to choose” for religious purposes has always been an option in this country. Catholics chose to create Catholic Schools. Jewish parents chose schools based at their Synagogues. There are Hindu Schools and Muslim Schools. These faiths funded this choice with sacrifice and tuitions that were subsidized by their church, synagogue or mosque, not by diverting funds meant to support the public schools to their religion.

• Jewish Tuition Organization is another 501 C specifically to provide Scholarship or Grants to Attend Jewish Primary and Secondary Schools. http://www.jtophoenix.org/take-the-credit/

o The Executive Director at the Jewish Tuition Organization has a salary of $70.000 as of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year. This is on Revenue of $2,922,316.

o Form 990 FY 2013 JTO: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/860/970/2014-860970081-0b26cdec-9.pdf