Christian Alternative Schools Are Getting Taxpayer Funding in Indiana October 14, 2015

Christian Alternative Schools Are Getting Taxpayer Funding in Indiana

The Crossing, a group of private schools in Indiana, has provided a lot of beneficial services for students across the state who had either dropped out of their more traditional schools or were expelled. Those kids were given a second chance and many graduates will attest to the incredible amount of support they received from Crossing-affiliated teachers.

Sounds great… until you realize the Crossing is a Christian organization that’s supported by a lot of taxpayer funding.

Shaina Cavazos, writing for Chalkbeat, sheds more light on the controversial group:

The Crossing isn’t really like other schools — even other alternative schools.

For one thing, the schools are religious but depend heavily on public funds through partnerships with school districts. Students say they like the mix of online learning, one-on-one teaching, job training and character-building lessons, which come infused with religious teachings.

But the religious connection appears to have cost the Crossing one big potential partner: Indianapolis Public Schools.

Despite the fact that other public schools in the area are comfortable working with the Crossing, IPS board member Kelly Bentley said its strong religious connection helped derail a partnership with the district.

“I’m in no way passing any kind of judgment on the organization or the work they’re trying to do, but it’s clearly a religious organization,” Bentley said. “And I don’t know how you separate that when they’re working in a public school setting.”

IPS, to its credit, says it will be developing a similar program that’s secular in nature.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of public money going to an educational program with a goal of spreading Christianity. How is that legal?

I raised that question to attorney Patrick Elliott of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and he brought up the very real possibility of the program violating the Establishment Clause.

We often complain about vouchers, where parents receive government aid to send their kids to the school of their choice, even if that ultimately means giving taxpayer money to private religious schools.

This is much worse. We’re talking about public schools that partner with a Christian program (and only a Christian program) for some of their most at-risk students.

No one’s saying the programs are useless, only that there are a lot of potential legal issues that should have been raised a long time ago.

FFRF will be looking into the program soon.

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