Repealing the Blaine Amendment

Yakov Weiss
The Blaine Amendment was an amendment named after Rep. James Blaine who wished to enshrine a law in the US Constitution that would ban all government funding to parochial schools. This law was passed from an anti-Catholic standpoint by many states, New York being one of them. This law was and remains unjust from its premise to its implementation.

The Blaine amendment is an anti-religious legislation, so why does it still stand? Until Senator David Storobin sponsored its repeal, nobody in New York State wanted to tackle it. It is a convenient excuse for countless Democratic party politicians who take money from the UFT (the teachers’ union) knowing full well that parents are struggling to pay tuition.

Despite the presence of numerous Catholic and Jewish legislators – who like to wish us a Shana Tova in our newspapers and then do nothing for the community – none have done anything meaningful to change the status quo. Sen. Storobin is not beholden to the UFT’s interests because he’s a Republican. He not only understands our concerns and issues, but is also not beholden to the union donations. Once the Blaine Amendment is repealed, parents would be able to see real relief. Ideally this aid would take the form of school vouchers, where parents would choose where they can send their children, allowing them to pick the best education for their children and not to be boxed into the failing public schools.

Tuition relief through vouchers and yeshiva funding is the single most important issue facing the Orthodox community today. It is no longer sustainable to rely on the parents and the donors to pay for rising costs. With the collapse of the economy, many yeshivas are no longer able to make payroll as unemployed parents and financially-strapped donors are unable to come up with the needed funds to continue operating.

Despite the anti-religious rhetoric from the UFT and the Democratic party politicians who are beholden to them, if all the children that go to yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private schools were enrolled in public schools, these would collapse due to overcrowding and underfunding. The plan proposed by Sen. Storobin, which would give a $9,000 education voucher to parents who choose not to send their child to a public school, would not only help families that send their children to private schools, but would relieve overcrowding and under-financing of public schools that currently spend over $18,000 per student.

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