Should the Government Control Talk Radio to Make it More "balanced"?
The debate on school reform has lead some individuals to believe the solution to low performing schools is to open up public education to competition through alternatives, such as, charter schools. Meanwhile, the Fourteenth Amendment requires schools to provide students with equal opportunities in education, and so, students with special needs must have those needs met by the school. Where those needs cannot be reasonably met, public schools must provide funds for an alternative education at an institution that can provide for those needs.
Some individuals may misconstrue this equal protection to extend beyond physical and psychological limitations to include theological needs. As religious freedoms are guaranteed to every American citizen, some people feel their children have the right to pursue an education based on their religious preferences while they believe forcing a secular curriculum on their children is a violation of the First Amendment. Since education is a requirement for those under a particular age, these individuals also feel government has a responsibility to fund the education of their choosing. This may well be true if it were not for the First Amendment disallowing government from supporting any or all religions.
Although religion can be a significant aspect of an individuals' growth and development, public schools cannot incorporate religious philosophy into their curriculum due to First Amendment protections. Moreover, the First Amendment was not only created to protect an individuals' right to practice religion, but designed to ensure the individual is able to choose his or her own religious beliefs free of government influence while government also has the responsibility to ensure that choice is actually free. Therefore, government cannot provide resources for organizations that teach a religious message.
The Constitution forbids government to support any or all religions, thus, all public funds directed toward supporting faith-based doctrines violate the Constitution. Moreover, charter schools, which have a faith-based mission, cannot be funded through government monies as doing so would create an improper relationship. If government would be influenced by a particular religion, it would disenfranchise all other religions while government involvement in a particular religion would give government officials the power to alter the message behind the religion.
Equal protection ensures all American citizens enjoy the same rights and freedoms the Constitution guarantees. For the First Amendment to fulfill its obligation, this means government must not favor one religion above another by funding any particular faith as it is impossible for government to equally support all faiths. Meanwhile, government influence over a religion is strictly forbidden due to the intrusive and controlling nature of government. Religion would be a powerful tool for government to instill social order. Such a relationship would distort the purity of faith and the responsibility of government to protect all its citizens without regard to personal differences.
Public charters schools with faith-based initiatives would likely be harmless to those attending the schools, specifically those who share the same faith as the school administers. It is the broader implications of such actions that are harmful as Law promotes consistency and the nature of Law would require a broader support of religious venues. The Constitution exists to protect people from the powerful, including government, so it is those who do not share the leaders' views of religion who need protection. Public charter schools with faith-based missions fail to protect individuals because they give government influence over religious doctrine and they force government to selectively and unequally support specific religious faiths.