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  #1    
Old April 4th, 2013, 07:14 PM
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A pair of proposals rapidly moving through the Tennessee General Assembly could potentially divert tax dollars currently allocated to public schools to Islamic private schools, and two Rutherford County senators are raising concerns about the legislation.

“This is an issue we must address,” state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) said. “I don’t know whether we can simply amend the bill in such a way that will fix the issue at this point.”

State Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Tracy each expressed their concerns Friday over Senate Bill 0196, commonly called the “School Voucher Bill” and sponsored by fellow Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville), which would give parents of children attending failing public schools a voucher with which to enroll in a private school.

State monies that would otherwise be spent on educating the student in public schools would then be diverted to qualifying private schools to pay private tuition for the student, in whole or in part.

Islamic schools throughout the state, including Nashville and Memphis where several of Tennessee’s lowest performing schools are located, would qualify to receive such students under the state-funded voucher program.

One such Islamic school, the Nashville International Academy, states that its vision is “to create a positive learning environment where students are committed to the teachings of the Quran and example of Prophet Muhammad.”

The school is located on Charlotte Pike and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which qualifies it as a Category III private school through Tennessee statutes.

Other such schools include the Clara Muhammad School, a division of the Nation of Islam that operates a school in Nashville among its 74 other locations, and the Anoor Academy of Knoxville.

The voucher bill, which is a high-priority initiative by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, includes Category I, II, and III private schools as beneficiaries of state dollars through the proposed program.

All SACS-accredited institutions qualify as Category III schools under current state law, and Pleasant View School, an Islamic school in Memphis, has already made application for accreditation and expects approval in June, Assistant Principal Calvin Shaw said.

A competing bill, House Bill 190, would expand Haslam’s voucher proposal statewide instead of limiting the program to the worst performing school districts.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has previously expressed interest in chartering its own Islamic school as well.

Tracy, a member of the Senate Education Committee, expressed “considerable concern” with directing tax dollars to Islamic schools, but he said disallowing Category III schools would also disqualify private schools, such as Montgomery Bell Academy, Ensworth and Harpeth Hall, all of which qualify for the program through SACS accreditation as well.

Ketron, who sponsored anti-Shariah Law legislation in 2009, said the voucher bills have advanced too quickly in the legislature this year and more consideration is needed on the measure.

“This issue gives me pause in voting for the governor’s voucher proposal,” he said. “These issues warrant further assessment.”

“What’s the rush? Do we need to send these proposals to summer study (committee)?” he questioned.

HB190 comes before the Senate Government Operations Committee and House Finance Subcommittee next week, with special interest groups such as StudentsFirst of Tennessee advocating for its passage with the hiring of multiple lobbyists and several media buys in key markets across the state.

“Though we have cleared some big obstacles, there are still more hurdles to go,” according to a recent StudentsFirst e-mail plea. “We are not across the finish line yet, but with your continued help we will get there.”
Lousiana 2.0, really. Same issue here and with their plans - The politicians realized that it wasn't just schools based on the religions they liked that could be getting the money, it would be any of them - Even the ones that they dislike.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 08:01 PM
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Wow! This sounds so familiar.

A few years back here in Ontario, a Progressive Conservative leader running for premier had devised a similar idea. If you're not aware, in addition to Public schools we also have publicly funded Catholic school due to our constitution. When we file our taxes we basically get to select which school board we would like our funds to go to - generally speaking, you pick where your kids are enrolled.

Anyway, he decided this clearly wasn't fair. He proposed a third option so that parents who have their children in private religious schools of other faiths would see some public funding.

He was fairly popular and it was expected that'd he win the election easily. But when he proposed this idea on the campaign trail, the polls turned big time. Not only did he lose, but he also didn't even secure his own seat (for those familiar with the parliamentary system).

Apparently, the story goes that the other main political parties (Liberal and New Democrats) proceeded to campaign in areas that were seen to be a shoe-in for the PCs and stress that this proposal would divert public funds to Islamic schools. *gasp* The horror of it.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Private schools are unfair and should be eliminated altogether. The quality of your education should not be determined by how much wealth your parents possess, nor should parents be allowed to decide what facts kids should and should not get to be exposed to. The truth is the truth and facts only lie when you can't see all of them. The money that goes toward this crap should be diverted to fixing our public school systems, which are pretty awful in most inner city areas.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 06:52 PM
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I don't think there's anything wrong with private schools. Mostly because they're private, but even if, why should we force everybody to have the same education? But they should not have public funding, especially if that funding is no-strings-attached.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by twocows View Post
The quality of your education should not be determined by how much wealth your parents possess, nor should parents be allowed to decide what facts kids should and should not get to be exposed to.
If they receive public funding wouldn't they have to follow the same curriculum as the public schools? I think that'd be an argument for diverting funding to them. Otherwise, no deal for me.

The benefit of private schools isn't selective facts, but that some are specialized. Beyond just religious schools, there are art schools for instance. At least where I live the government is expanded into art-centric schools and other kinds of tailored schools (we're looking at "afro-centric" ones, for example). If you don't live in area where a public art school is provided, why shouldn't you be able to go to a private school?
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Old April 5th, 2013, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by TRIFORCE89 View Post
If they receive public funding wouldn't they have to follow the same curriculum as the public schools? I think that'd be an argument for diverting funding to them. Otherwise, no deal for me.

The benefit of private schools isn't selective facts, but that some are specialized. Beyond just religious schools, there are art schools for instance. At least where I live the government is expanded into art-centric schools and other kinds of tailored schools (we're looking at "afro-centric" ones, for example). If you don't live in area where a public art school is provided, why shouldn't you be able to go to a private school?
To an extent, private schools do adhere to some state-mandated stuff, I believe. However, it's not to the same degree as public schools. They're also allowed to teach whatever else they want, regardless of whether it has any basis in scientific fact (teaching about religion is fine; indoctrination doesn't belong in schools, though). My biggest complaint is still that the states are spending money on letting rich kids get a better education rather than improving the quality of education among inner-city communities.

I don't see why you can't have at least some specialization among public schools. Our public school prided itself on its music program, among other things. That said, too much specialization is bad; a bit of variety's important.
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Old April 6th, 2013, 11:16 PM
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Don't get me wrong, I dislike all religion equally. Anything that teaches that the world was created quickly and by magical creatures/deities that is taken seriously halts progress. But I happen to like the voucher system. It's like an order to abandon ship, this ship being a shoddy school that doesn't get the job done. If i'd had this opportunity growing up, I probably wouldn't have dropped out and gotten my G.E.D. That being said, I wouldn't have adhered to the religious aspects of a private school, and not all private schools are religion-based. Take George Carlin for example, He was raised Irish-Catholic, but it never stuck with him. Indoctrination is dependent on the receiver, if you're weak-minded, or you're missing vital parts of your life, you can be lead to believe that the earth was created in seven days, and you'll be sent to a place of immortal torture for eating the wrong meat on the wrong day.
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Old April 7th, 2013, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by AXELXu7 View Post
Don't get me wrong, I dislike all religion equally. Anything that teaches that the world was created quickly and by magical creatures/deities that is taken seriously halts progress. But I happen to like the voucher system. It's like an order to abandon ship, this ship being a shoddy school that doesn't get the job done. If i'd had this opportunity growing up, I probably wouldn't have dropped out and gotten my G.E.D. That being said, I wouldn't have adhered to the religious aspects of a private school, and not all private schools are religion-based. Take George Carlin for example, He was raised Irish-Catholic, but it never stuck with him. Indoctrination is dependent on the receiver, if you're weak-minded, or you're missing vital parts of your life, you can be lead to believe that the earth was created in seven days, and you'll be sent to a place of immortal torture for eating the wrong meat on the wrong day.
Clearly you would have had no problem in a Catholic school then since both evolution and the big bang theory are fine under the faith. I went to Catholic school (although still a public school where I live), and while Genesis and such is taught - it is taught during religion class. Bible studies. Then during science class, you learn science. You learn that stuff. And the birds and the bees, as it were. And all that. No seven days nonsense.

I went to Catholic school and I think the experience would have been largely the same as a public school except for having a mass in the gym around Christmas and Easter.

No nuns around either.
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Old April 7th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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Three words: but you're Canadian! The debate for creationism vs. evolution is one they have in the states but not here. Kind of like how our conservative party recognizes samesex marriage and how abortion has been put off of national debate. I suppose old debates have resurfaced or it was never resolved in the first place.


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Old April 7th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by BlahISuck View Post
Three words: but you're Canadian! The debate for creationism vs. evolution is one they have in the states but not here. Kind of like how our conservative party recognizes samesex marriage and how abortion has been put off of national debate. I suppose old debates have resurfaced or it was never resolved in the first place.
True. So glad I live here XD

But, I was mostly responding to his comment: "Take George Carlin for example, He was raised Irish-Catholic, but it never stuck with him. Indoctrination is dependent on the receiver, if you're weak-minded, or you're missing vital parts of your life, you can be lead to believe that the earth was created in seven days"

The seven days nonsense. The Catholic Church is fine with the big bang theory and evolution. Heck, the big bang theory was first proposed by a Catholic priest / Jesuit.

Misrepresentation :p
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Old April 7th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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It surprises me that there are Islamic schools in the US. I thought those only existed in a land of religious tolerance (cough, ahem. Canada. ahem.). =} But the Nation of Islam is a black organization, so its teachings are probably rooted in Western values anyways. Like Triforce said, it might turn out to be pretty normal.
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