Oklahoma school board approves nation’s first religious charter school News
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Oklahoma school board approves nation’s first religious charter school

The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted on Monday to accept the application for the establishment of the Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. The school will operate as a public charter school, paid for by taxpayer dollars.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated they will join Americans United, a group that fights to ensure the separation of church and state, to stop the establishment of the school. In announcing their action, the ACLU said, “Our public schools must be free from religious indoctrination and open to all students.”

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt praised the school board on their vote:

This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education. Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice. Our state showed that we will not stand for religious discrimination.

Reverend Clark Frailey, a member of the organization Pastors for Oklahoma Kids, expressed concern over the vote when he said, “The Oklahoma constitution has specifically in it in Article 1 Section 5 that we will have schools free from sectarian control. There is a historical precedent for why we don’t support religious public schools. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Within the US, religious identification continues to change. The percentage of white Christians dropped from 72 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2018. The percentage of those who are not affiliated with a religion continues to rise, currently sitting at about 27 percent of Americans.

In April, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit allowed charter schools to collect tax dollars designated for desegregation programs, showcasing an expansion of rights for public charter schools across the country.

Currently, Oklahoma has six charter schools that operate to provide online full-time public education  to varying grade levels.