Legislators debating a proposed state rule to limit the use of public funds for religious instruction at Arkansas pre-schools couldn’t find agreement on Monday.
At a legislative hearing, state lawmakers heard objections and constitutional arguments for the rule, which has been a subject of discussion for months.
John Lyon with the Arkansas News Bureau reports:
The proposed rule would prohibit preschools that receive funding from the Arkansas Better Chance early childhood education program from holding religious activities during the “ABC day,” which is defined as seven hours beginning with the first ABC activity of the day.
The rule also would require any preschool that receives ABC funding to maintain a separate bank account for state funding and not commingle that money with money from private sources. State funds could not be used to fund any religious activities at the schools, regardless of the time of day.
State education officials drafted the rule after receiving a complaint that Growing God’s Kingdom preschool in West Fork, an ABC-funded school owned by Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, was using state funds to promote religion in violation of the First Amendment.
The state Board of Education approved the rule in July, subject to legislative review.
Harris spoke against the rule in Monday’s committee hearing. Read more of his comments as well as input from other legislators at this link.