Local state representatives have proposed a property-tax increase, and the revenue generated would provide visible security in our schools. In view of recent events around the nations, this is a commendable proposal. Our children deserve the assurance that they can enjoy school in safety.
However, the money would be applied only to state-supported schools. Students who attend private or parochial schools would not receive comparable protection.
Aren’t all children’s lives equal, or are some more important? Is providing police protection for the local public elementary school, but not the parochial school across the street, sending a message to potential criminals that they can select the one that is unprotected? If Johnny attends a public junior high school and transfers to the local Catholic high school, he loses his police protection status.
Decision makers must address this question: Are we interested in protecting all our children or just those who attend state-supported schools? Some might say that the U.S. Constitution prohibits providing aid to a religious school. But children are children regardless of what building they are in or what sidewalk they use. Providing a safe environment for children must be the paramount concern. Religious agencies should and will take care of their religious training. But the health and safety of all children is our collective responsibility.
Lawmakers must show concern for all our children — whether citizens or immigrants, legal or undocumented — regardless of where they live, study, worship or play. We love them all.
Rev. Monsignor Vincent Kelly, pastor, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Fort Lauderdale