The North Dakota House of Representatives voted on HCR 3037. The measure would allowed the voters of North Dakota to decide whether to remove prejudicial language rooted in anti-Catholicism from the state’s constitution.
The measure failed by a tied 47 – 47 vote.
Contrary to some claims made by opponents, approval of the measure would not have mandated funding for religious schools. Nor is removal of the language necessary before the legislature could support parental choice. It merely would have removed the prejudicial language and returned the issue to the people.
The North Dakota Catholic Conference provided written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in support of HCR 3037.
Noting its anti-Catholic origins, its current prejudicial interpretation, and the fact that the provision was imposed upon the people of North Dakota as a condition for statehood, the conference stated: “HCR 3037 would give North Dakota voters an opportunity to remove a shameful blemish from our state’s constitution and give the people of North Dakota the right to decide for themselves questions related to public education and nonpublic schools.”
Read the full testimony here: http://ndcatholic.org/2013testimony/hcr3037house/index.html
Many North Dakotans may not know it, but the state constitution contains a provision rooted in ugly anti-Catholic bigotry.
Anti-Catholic (or in some cases anti-Irish) politicians in the 19th century sought to curb Catholic influence by insisting that new states adopt provisions banning support for “sectarian” schools. As Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer once pointed out, “sectarian” was widely understood at the time to only mean Catholic. It did not mean non-secular. In most cases, adoption of these provisions, known as “Blaine Amendments,” were imposed as a requirement for statehood.
The U.S. Supreme Court has called these provisions a legal doctrine “born of bigotry” that “should be buried now.”
HCR 3037 takes up that call and would remove this shameful stain in our state constitution.
The constitutional amendment, if adopted, would not provide funding for religious-affiliated schools. It would merely remove this vestige of prejudice and allow the people of North Dakota to decide what is in the best interests of our children.
The resolution is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.
The state House of Representatives has defeated HB 1466 by a vote of 31-63.
House Bill 1466 faced a powerful government school lobby resistant to any change in how the state provides public education. We express our appreciation to those representatives who supported HB 1466 and recognized that public education and the parental right to choose should not be mutually exclusive.
House Bill 1466 would address a fundamental injustice in our educational system. Like most states, North Dakota provides an education to its children. If, however, parents exercise their legal right to choose a non-government-owned school for their child’s education they are forced to pay the entire cost of education, even though they pay taxes like every other parent.
House Bill 1466 would restore fairness to our state’s educational system by providing some assistance to parents who choose an accredited nonpublic school for their children.
Contact your Representatives and ask them to vote YES on HB 1466.
Contact by email or phone: 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447) or 701-328-3373 (local).
Send this alert to friends, grandparents, and other relatives, especially if they live in an area without a nonpublic school. Representatives from those areas need to hear that all North Dakotans support fairness in education.
The House Education Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to House Bill 1466 this afternoon. The bill would provide some financial assistance to parents who choose an approved nonpublic school for their children’s education.
The committee action is significant. This is the first time in recent history that a committee has given its approval to a parental choice bill.
The bill now goes to the Education and Environment Division of the House Appropriations Committee for further review.
North Dakota has never provided financial assistance to parents who choose nonpublic schools for their children. House Bill 1466 would change that by requiring the state to pay a portion of the costs of educating nonpublic school students.
The North Dakota Catholic Conference joined legislators, parents, students, and school administrators in support of the bill.
The House Education Committee is considering the bill.
The North Dakota Legislative Assembly has declared January 27 through February 2 School Choice Week. Governor Dalrymple will make a similar proclamation on February 1.
School choice is not just about schools. It is about recognizing that educational choice respects the unique dignity of every child and empowers parents in their role as primary educators of their children.