Mr. FATTAH. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to enter into a colloquy with the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Tom Davis) and return to my question.
As I understand the language, and I read it, it says that any religiously affiliated school could get dollars under this program and it can be controlled and connected to a religious organization and it can promote its religious purpose; and then it goes on to say it could hire any number of people who follow their religious beliefs and that they deem necessary and that they can include religious references in its mission statement and other governing documents.
All I am trying to determine is whether or not that is completely wide open, or whether there is a list of some type that either already is approved or would be approved of which religiously affiliated entities could operate schools in the District.
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, to my knowledge there is no exclusion of any religion, or inclusion. The Secretary of Education is the one that would be able to come forward with a list and make the determination. As the gentleman knows, there have been a number of court decisions along this line, and we feel this meets the mandate of the courts, and it has to meet a certain level.
Mr. FATTAH. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, all of the lawsuits on this matter, or at least the vast majority, have been about the Federal prison system, in which the courts have been, I would say, very lenient in determining what is a religion, and all manner of groups with any number of, I think, what most of us would consider problematic beliefs have been determined to be religions for purposes under the definition by the Federal courts. So would that be the same in terms of how this would
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will yield further, we leave discretion with the Secretary of Education. Let me say there have been a number of title VII cases that do deal with education, and that would be the criteria that the Department would meet. But we did not try to micromanage the criteria. They also have to meet certain educational standards, and that would really be the controlling criteria, is meeting educational standards.
Mr. FATTAH. I read the list of the educational standards, all related to education, and I think the gentleman has done a good job on that. I am just concerned about this particular issue, and I guess so that the record can be clear, your position is that there is no restriction in the authorizing language as you have written it?
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I understand the gentleman's concern. Every school has to meet the nondiscrimination provisions that are currently in the law as well, if that gives the gentleman some level of comfort.
Mr. FATTAH. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman would yield for 10 seconds on that point. The gentleman says here in section 9, notwithstanding any other provision of the law, the school could employ, the participating school may employ anybody that they believe---- [Page: H7988]
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
There has been a discussion about who wants these vouchers. Is there anybody who wants them? I can tell you I just left a meeting in the Rayburn Building, just a few yards away, where there are a few dozen D.C. parents who want these vouchers, who are waiting, pleading, hoping that the vote is right today. One of them gave me this letter written by a little girl named Lapria Johnson. She is 8 years old. She was born as what they call a drug baby. Her mother took drugs while she was pregnant.
Lapria was born and her grandmother was told that she would never read.
This is a letter that she just wrote: ``My name is Lapria and I go to Holy Temple Christian Academy. The Washington Scholarship Fund is the only way I can read. I am 8 years old. I have a lot of problems I was born with. Public school said I could not read. I read and my math is great. My handwriting is not so good. But I have an A in reading and an A in math.''
I can tell you that her handwriting is better than mine and she is one that will benefit from this. There are kids all over like Lapria that will benefit from this if we will simply let them. We need to let them.
My name is Lapria and I go to Holy Temple Christian Academy. W.SF. is the only way I can read. I am 8 years old I have a lot of problems I was born with. public school said I would not read. I read and my, my math is great my handwriting is not so good but I have A in reading and A im math