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On Public Support For Religious Schools

by Walter Feinberg - 2000

I explore arguments about the fairness of the present arrangement barring public support for religious instruction in separate schools. I show that the arrangement is based on a consensus formed during the 1920’s which established a strong conceptual separation between public and private where religious schooling is relegated to the private sphere.

I ask whether this conceptual separation forged in the 1920s is still viable. I explore different proposed reasons for altering this conception of the private/public divide when it comes to supporting religious schools, and show that there are reasons, both from the point of view of religion and from the point of view of the state, to be cautious about a radical change in the present configuration of support. One implication of this argument is that fairness is not a matter of public support for separate religious schools. Fairness depends on the quality of public education available for poor children. I conclude by suggesting that the terms for arguing the issue of public support for religious schools needs to be reoriented to take into account the future autonomy interests of the child

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 4, 2000, p. 841-856
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10506, Date Accessed: 9/21/2020 12:35:45 AM

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About the Author
  • Walter Feinberg
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    E-mail Author
    Walter Feinberg, a professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Illinois in Urbana, was born on August 22, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. Feinberg’s scholarship focuses on the relationship between democracy, work and education. His books include: Common Schools/Uncommon Identities: National Unity and Cultural Difference, 1998; On Higher Ground: Education and the Case for Affirmative Action, 1998; Japan and the Quest for a New American Identity: Work and Education in a Multicultural Age, 1993. Feinberg has been President of the American Educational Studies Association and The Philosophy of Education Society and has served as the Benton Scholar at the University of Chicago.
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