The United States ranks among the lowest of Western democracies in governmental support for educational freedom, and particularly for the right of parents to select schools that correspond to their own religious convictions. This principle, explicitly included in the international human rights covenants, is supported through public funding of faith-based schools in dozens of countries, including almost all members of the European Union. Despite voucher, tax credit, or educational savings account programs in a number of states, educational freedom is by no means the norm in the United States as it is in most comparable nations.
Although the rate of religious practice is considerably higher in the United States than it is in Europe, we have been much slower to recognize in a practical way the religious-freedom right of parents to make decisions about the schools their children attend, and to do so without financial penalty. School choice, a luxury for most American families, is taken for granted by Danish or French or Swedish or Spanish families. In the Netherlands, for example, only about 30 percent of children attend what we would call “public” schools, while the majority attend Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, or Hindu schools that are fully funded by government. Continue Reading →