"'Public education' is not limited to what happens in government-owned buildings," writes Richard W. Garnett of South Bend, Indiana.
It is, instead, "the education of the public, with public support," and it takes place every day in private, religious and publicly operated schools. Public education funds belong to all of us; they are for our children, not only our public employees. The education that private and parochial schools provide serves the public interest of the community (at a lower cost to taxpayers) and offers options and opportunities to thousands of Indiana children. It is unfair and unwise to exclude this public service from public support.
The important idea of separation of church and state is about protecting religious freedom from government interference. It does not require discrimination against religious schools, and it does not mean that governments and religious institutions may not cooperate to provide valuable public goods, like health care, refugee services and, yes, education.