Missouri NEA President Charles E. Smith's Statement on Trinity Supreme Court Ruling

From the Missouri National Education Association
1810 E. Elm St., Jefferson City, MO 65101

For further information: 
Mark Jones 
(660) 537-1375
 mark.jones@mnea.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2017

(Jefferson City, MO) – Charles E. Smith, an English teacher on leave from the Center School District and President of Missouri National Education Association issued the following statement:

“Today the Supreme Court denied the efforts of school voucher proponents to undermine our state’s constitutional protections for public schools. Every student regardless of their zip code deserves a great public school. Vouchers undermine students by draining resources from public schools for the benefit of private and religious institutions. I’m hopeful lawmakers will take their cue from the court and focus on what works to provide students with the great public schools they deserve.”

Background:

In a narrowly written decision, the Supreme Court held in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer that Missouri could not refuse a playground grant to a church solely due to the fact that the church is a religious institution. In so holding, the court noted that the case involved express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to such a grant, and that the court was not “address[ing] religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.” The court’s refusal to rule broadly will surely be a disappointment to school voucher proponents who had sought to use the dispute over playground resurfacing grants to undermine state constitutional protections for public education. 

The 7-2 decision both leaves intact the Missouri constitutional provision at issue in the case insofar as it prohibits state funding of religious actions and leaves undisturbed the similar provisions of 38 other states. These “no aid” provisions were enacted to protect public schools and have been applied for decades to ensure that resources for those schools were not diverted to private religious institutions. The National Education Association filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that these state constitutional provisions should not be swept aside and that a state’s independent interpretation of their constitutional provisions regarding church-state separation should be respected. 


The 35,000-member MNEA represents teachers, education support professionals, college faculty, retired teachers and students studying to be teachers in school districts and on college campuses throughout the state. It is the Missouri affiliate of the 3.2 million-member NEA.

###


Add This
Decrease Text Size
Printer Friendly Version
Missouri NEA's 
edCommunities Live

Sat., Oct. 7, 2017
8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Doubletree Hotel at Westport 
1973 Craigshire, St. Louis


Free Event

Open to all educators

You do not need to be a member of MNEA to attend this event. Invite your friends and colleagues to MNEA's edCommunities LIVE Saturday, Oct. 7.