To the Editor:
Students should be allowed to take dual enrollment courses, such as college courses while still in high school, even if they attend a religious high school. All students should be able to have access to the opportunities dual enrollment can bring, such as college credit, knowledge which can be helpful for high school courses, and the experience of taking a college course and exploring their interests.
Taking college courses while in high school makes it easier, cheaper and faster to graduate college.
Currently, students at religious schools are not allowed to participate in dual enrollment, which should change because their parents are still required to pay taxes which benefit public schools.
Some people do not want religious school students to be able to have access to these free college courses because they think those who choose such a private school give up certain benefits of public schools, such as dual enrollment.
Parents can easily choose to send their children to a public school if they want to take advantage of this opportunity. However, while there is freedom to not attend a public school, parents do not have the freedom to cease paying taxes for public schools.
Their taxes also support the dual enrollment program. Why should they not be allowed to use something they pay taxes for?
Surely, people should get what they pay for. A 2015 article in the Burlington Free Press, quoted Hinesburg resident Paul Lamberson, who sent his children to private school: “He said since he pays education taxes like every other Vermonter, his children should be able to take advantage of dual enrollment.”
It does not make sense that those who don’t have children in public school still have to pay taxes for the public school which they have no part of. With other taxes, people get a benefit from the money they put in, such as with roads, police, and national defense. Therefore, it stands to reason that these families should reap some benefit from the money they put in, such as free college courses.
This argument has been considered for private school students, who have recently been allowed to take dual enrollment courses. However, students at religious schools are still not allowed to because of the separation of church and state.
The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Giving students at a religious school the opportunity to take college courses, is not catering to a certain religion. In fact, by singling out religious-school students and excluding only them from the program, the state of Vermont is unfairly discriminating against religious students. Separation of church and state means looking at everyone as equals regardless of religion, which the state of Vermont is currently not doing.
Students at religious schools should be able to have access to dual enrollment courses.
Holt is a student at Rice Memorial High School.