Education

Private religious school receives state voucher money despite teaching homosexuality is a sin

In the western part of the state, the “Citizen Times” reports that a conservative religious school that receives a third of Buncombe County’s opportunity scholarship money teaches students that homosexuality is a sin.

Temple Baptist School in West Asheville is also dismissive of the theory of evolution, the paper reports. It opts to evangelize about Young Earth creationism, which contends Earth is no more than 10,000 years old.

Here’s how Brian Washburn, the administrator at Temple Baptist, explained the school’s approach to those subjects.

“What we do is based on the Bible as our foundation,” Washburn told the “Citizen Times.” “So that’s going to influence our approach to teaching all of our subject areas.”

The “Citizen Times” reported that 95 of nearly 150 Temple Baptist students receive tuition assistance of up to $4,200 through the state’s voucher program during the 2018-19 school year.

Read the paper’s full report here.

Teaching children that homosexuality is a sin wouldn’t fly in a traditional public school, and neither would Young Earth creationism. But such lesson are OK at Temple Baptist and other private religious schools despite the fact that such schools benefit from thousands of dollars in public money.

Private schools accepted 9,651 scholarships last year totaling $37.7 million.

Critics complain that the voucher program drains money from traditional public schools. Meanwhile, supporters say vouchers give economically disadvantaged students educational opportunities they otherwise couldn’t afford.

Another chief complaint about North Carolina’s school voucher program is that the program provides money to private schools that may discriminate based on race, gender, sexuality and religious affiliation.

Kathryn Marker, director of grants, training and outreach at the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA), the agency that oversees the state’s voucher program, told Policy Watch in June that the program’s participation agreement forbids discrimination on the basis of “race, color or national origin.”

That agreement, however, does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Read the participation agreement here. Provision 5 forbids discrimination based on race, color or national origin.

The language in the agreement is similar to that in federal law:  “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program, or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

 

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