Once again, a Republican running for office is attempting to break down the wall of separation between church and state.
The Republican party's nominee governor of Virginia is current Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli recently released his 12-point education plan which noted that the state of Virginia should amend its current state constitution to allow public funding for religious schools. Like other states, public taxpayer money isn't legally allowed to be sent to a private religious school because of the secular nature of the constitution. Like most in his party, Cuccinelli is a strong believer that religion is a must in the education of a child and that American taxpayers should be responsible for the funding.
"12. Constitutional Amendments
Virginia has provisions in its constitution that explicitly bar government aid to “sectarian” schools or institutions, including the so-called Blaine Amendment. The Blaine Amendment was passed as a result of anti-Catholic bigotry in American politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which made clear that the federal Constitution permits aid through school choice programs, Virginia’s Blaine Amendment restricts the ability to enact broad-based school choice programs. A state constitutional amendment is needed that is narrowly drafted to allow for school choice programs that do not restrict parents’ choices about what is best for each of their children."
Cuccinelli's education plan is nothing new to the Republican party as the religious right has gained a strong hold in the GOP over the last few years. While conservative Christians have pulled the Republican party further to the political right, they have done damage to their brand on a national level as they have been seen as out of touch or extreme by many political moderates.
Another big issue that Republicans have had to fight off is the stigma of being linked to big business and organizations that protect the best interest of corporations. According to ProgressVA, Cuccinelli's education plan is nearly a direct copy of what was offered by the American Legislative Exchange Council, otherwise known as "ALEC."
"Parent Trigger legislation that Ken Cuccinelli is proposing is drawn directly from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The name he's given, "Parent Empowerment and Choice Act" is the same name as the ALEC model. Additionally, as is discussed in our ALEC V. Kids report, the ALEC model is based on a California law that was proposed by a private charter operator. ALEC actually revised that law to give parents fewer choices, essentially steering them into privatizing public schools."
The push of religion by conservatives has become a common theme and legislation offered by ALEC and Cuccinelli is something that Americans should continue to expect especially as the mid term elections move closer.