ALBANY, N.Y (Mar. 2)
The New York Board of Regents has voted 11-2 to support repeal of the controversial Blaine Amendment, which prohibits state aid to parochial schools. The Regents, which voted 10-5 on the same issue three years ago, aligned themselves with the repeal bill approved last month by the State Assembly, which would provide New Yorkers with the constitutional right to fight private-school aid in court. The Senate version of the bill would make such suits possible by means of a separate, non-constitutional law. Repeal of Blaine still requires action by the next legislature and then approval by the voters in a referendum.
In New York, the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL) predicted that repeal of Blaine could cost the state’s taxpayers a billion dollars a year in support of religious schools. That sum, it said, would be the price of “parity”–the same expenditure per pupil in parochial schools as is spent in public schools. William Haddad, executive co-chairman of PEARL, said that such “party” was the “real goal” of many who advocate Blaine’s repeal. He warned of “the dangers to religious freedom and to public education” if the bill is upheld by the next legislature. The New York Chapter of the AJ Committee urged the legislature not to consider any private-school-aid bills pending the results of the referendum.