Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 10 (Parochial Schools)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Nine questions have been posted so far. Here is the final question:

Question 10: Do you support federal money being allocated to religious institutions for provision of social services or to parochial schools? What restrictions, if any, would you put on these funds, whether provided by grants or vouchers? Do you support legislation to strengthen the obligation of employers to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious practice?

Response from President Obama

The separation of church and state in this country is essential and has led our democracy and religious practices to thrive. Religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have the right to worship as they choose.

With respect to education, while I have the deepest respect for the life-changing work of so many parochial schools, school vouchers have been tried and studied for decades, and we know that they do not raise student achievement. I am also concerned that vouchers can drain resources that are needed in public schools where the vast majority of students will always be. For this reason I do not support vouchers.

Still, religious institutions have an important role to play in the provision of public services. I expanded the federal government’s faith-based initiative because it is important for government to partner with faith-based organizations. I have affirmed repeatedly the important role these organizations play in delivering social services. I am working closely with my cabinet and each of the thirteen agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships and my administration has made it a top priority for community groups to be an integral part of our country’s success. Through my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, we have partnered with faith-based and non-profit organizations on many issues of critical importance: fighting hunger at home and abroad; promoting responsible fatherhood; encouraging mentoring; facilitating interfaith service; and fighting unemployment, among many other issues. All of this work is accomplished in a way that upholds the Constitution-by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

Where it does not conflict with state laws, the policies that I will put forth would allow Title I and IDEA funds to follow students to parochial schools.

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