The First Amendment Case for Religious Charter Schools

In a recent formal letter, the attorney general of Oklahoma opined that state laws prohibiting the creation of religious charter schools violate the First Amendment. Charter schools are privately run but receive public funds, and thus find themselves in an ambiguous position between public and private educational institutions. Nicole Stelle Garnett argues that the attorney general is correct:

Forty-four states have charter-school laws. All, like Oklahoma, have required charter schools to be secular and most, like Oklahoma, also prohibit them from being operated by or affiliated with religious institutions. The constitutionality of these restrictions [is at issue], especially since the Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana two years ago, which clarified that while “a state need not subsidize private education; . . . once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

Opening the door to religious charter schools will result in the creation of new religious schools, adding valuable pluralism to the American educational landscape. Many parents will embrace them for their children, and education reformers should, as well. Of course, not all religious schools will become charter schools. Many may reasonably choose not to, especially in states with robust school-choice programs, which tend to give participating schools even more freedom than charter laws do. But the question whether religious organizations should operate charter schools is not the same as the question whether they should be permitted to do so. The first question turns on prudential judgment; the second turns on the meaning of the First Amendment.

Read more at City Journal

More about: Education, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, School choice

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7