Arguments Against a Language-Specific Charter School
The L.A. Times reports on the disagreement that is holding up a proposed Hebrew-language charter school in California. The school promises to teach languages (Hebrew and a few others), not religion, but some people still think it would violate separation of church and state. Here’s a quote by an opponent of the proposed charter from a previous article:
“By requiring the students study Hebrew, I think you’re effectively limiting (who would apply),” said Dennis King, a former Hart school board member of 20 years. “So it’s sort of an ethnic school. It’s a school that appeals to a particular culture. . . . I suspect 95% of the kids will be Jewish.”
I hope this way of thinking doesn’t become prevalent in Missouri, because I’m happy about the growth of language-immersion charters here and I’m afraid the argument could be used against them as well. The St. Louis Language Immersion Schools have suggested the possibility of opening new schools in the future. Would they be barred from opening a Japanese school because many students would be Buddhists, or an Arabic school because many Muslims would apply?
As long as the school does not promote religion, there’s nothing wrong with teaching a language that’s associated with a religious group. Public schools do it all the time; Ladue teaches Hebrew, and Bunche teaches Arabic. If public schools can teach these languages for an hour or two a day, charters should be able to focus on the same languages and teach them in more depth.