Court Upholds Government Subsidy for AmeriCorps Teachers in Catholic Schools

March 9, 2005

Source: The Washington Post

On March 9, 2005 The Washington Post reported, "the federal AmeriCorps program may subsidize volunteer teachers in Roman Catholic schools without running afoul of the law, a U.S. appeals court said yesterday, overturning a lower court's ruling that found the practice unconstitutional. The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt a setback to the American Jewish Congress. The nonprofit group had argued that AmeriCorps crossed the line between church and state by financially rewarding some participants in its Education Awards Program who taught religion as well as secular subjects in Catholic schools. The national service program, overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service, provides participants with $4,725 in financial aid for college tuition and student loan repayment if they complete at least 1,700 hours in an approved AmeriCorps service position. The appeals court noted that participants are chosen without regard to religion, that those who teach religion in addition to secular subjects do so as a matter of choice, and that hours spent in religious instruction do not count toward qualifying for financial aid."