California Shouldn’t Keep Special-Education Funds from Its Religious Citizens

In a California federal court, three Jewish families and two Jewish day schools are suing state and local educational authorities over a state law that bars funds earmarked for education for the disabled from being directed to religious private schools. Michael A. Helfand believes they have a strong case:

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA), states receive federal funds to support students with disabilities. To remain eligible for those funds, states must establish rules to ensure that every special-needs child receives a free and publicly funded education. Most of the time, states satisfy this obligation through the public school system, serving children with varying learning needs.

The problem, however, is that public schools sometimes lack the resources, infrastructure, and expertise to meet the needs of some special-needs children. In California, under such circumstances, school districts partner with state-certified private schools. The process for certification is relatively intuitive, with nearly all the requirements related to the ability of the school to serve special-needs children. But one stands out: a school must be both nonpublic and nonsectarian.

[According to recent Supreme Court decisions], failure to treat religious institutions neutrally constitutes a form of religious discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment. . . . Violating the First Amendment’s prohibition against religious discrimination is bad enough. To deploy such discrimination to prevent willing institutions from supporting the most vulnerable is unfathomable.

Read more at City Journal

More about: California, Day schools, First Amendment, Jewish education

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy