How the Supreme Court’s religious school ruling could impact New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing public money to pay for tuition assistance at religious schools could eventually have an impact in New Mexico.

Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, is critical of the ruling.

“This is an unfortunate erosion of a basic foundational belief in our country that there’s a separation of church and state,””said Bernstein. “That erosion of a foundational belief will also erode public education for the public good which I believe is essential for a healthy democracy.”

Bernstein said right now nothing will change in New Mexico because the state doesn’t allow public funding for private schools.

“I think it would take changes in state law to allow something like this to happen in our state,” she said. “I don’t think that needs to happen immediately, but I think this sets that process in place.”

Senate Minority Whip Craig Brant, R–Rio Rancho, thinks parents should get tuition assistance from the state if they choose to send their child to a private school, including religious ones.

“Our children are not failing school. Our schools are failing our children. Our parents need to have that ability to choose what’s the best place for their children to get an education,” he said.

He introduced a bill that failed last legislative session that would have allowed public funding for private schools, and he plans to bring it back again this next session.

“The effect of this ruling if we did pay for private schooling, allowed some of our taxpayer dollars to be spent for private schooling, would be that any school whether they’re sectarian or not, whether they’re a religious school or not, would be able to receive that funding.”