Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Win for civil rights, loss for GWB

The U.S. House rejected efforts to remove civil rights protections from Head Start, the popular federal program aimed at helping impoverished children gain a sound education.

“Today’s action is a victory for our nation’s commitment to protecting civil rights and advancing early childhood education,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “The attempt to re-write Head Start rules to allow for ‘faith-based’ providers to discriminate in hiring based on religion was a mean-spirited affront to a fine program.”
In March, the House Education and Labor Committee turned away an amendment that would have given faith-based Head Start providers the right to discriminate in hiring based on religion. This evening, Republican water carriers for the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried again to amend the Head Start re authorization bill through a procedure known as a “motion to recommit.” The motion was soundly defeated on a 222-195 vote.

For more than 34 years, Head Start has contained civil rights protections that allowed religious groups to provide Head Start programs, but they were not allowed to discriminate in employment with our tax dollars.

Religious Right backers of the faith-based agenda have been pressuring Congress to overhaul Head Start to allow for religious-based discrimination.

“Taxpayer-supported Head Start employees and volunteers should not be selected, hired or fired based on their religious leanings. To allow a Southern Baptist Church to turn away a Jewish volunteer tutor would be inexcusable,” said Rev. Lynn.
The Bush administration continues to push the so-called “faith-based” initiative, which includes allowing religious social service providers to discriminate in hiring in federally funded programs. The Head Start re authorization appeared at first to be their best chance of getting something through Congress. But the dream continues to be out of Bush's reach.


Tengrain said...

Woot! Woot! We did it! Yay!

BAC said...

This is a huge victory. I can't wait to see you this weekend ... we will have to celebrate!