By Yossi Prager
Since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last week, the media discussion has centered on the possible impact of a new justice on a series of polarizing judicial questions. Unfortunately, today the focus always seems to be on the polarizing. However, some issues that at first appear polarizing become less so when examined with a nuanced lens. Take, for example, the Jewish community’s perspective on government funding for parochial schools, on which there a growing consensus among Jewish communal organizations. And, given sufficient will, our Jewish community could help to dramatically increase funding for Jewish day schools in consensus-building ways, helping to make Jewish education affordable and contributing to a new generation of young Jews who energize and serve American Jewish communities.
Say “school choice,” or “government funding for parochial schools” and people think about state support for religious education, a clear constitutional violation. Or they think about voucher programs, which have been upheld by the Supreme Court but remain politically divisive because of a fear of harm to public schools. However, U.S. day schools today already receive several hundred million dollars annually in government funding for a range of non-religious purposes and in 17 states benefit from incentives created by state tax-credit programs.
Yossi Prager is Executive Director – North America for The AVI CHAI Foundation.