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During the 1997-98 school year, visitors to Milwaukee's Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ might not have known that the students playing together actually attended two separate schools. The students wore the same uniforms, took classes in the same building, and even attended morning devotions together. Yet some of those students attended D. J. Young Academy, not Holy Redeemer. The difference? Holy Redeemer was officially a religious school, Young Academy was not.

D. J. Young Academy began in 1996 when a court injunction excluded "sectarian" schools from an expansion of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), the nation's first city-operated school-voucher system. The Pentecostal church decided to create a school similar to its Christian academy—then filled to capacity—but without the religious-themed textbooks. With parents' permission, the students still received an hour of religious instruction each day, but classroom curriculum remained the same as that of Milwaukee public schools.

On June 10, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that religious schools could participate in the program, expanding the nation's most extensive school-choice program even further (CT, Aug. 10, 1998, p. 28). An appeal is likely.

Jerry Fair, president of both Holy Redeemer schools, says the implications for D. J. Young Academy will not be overwhelming, but the distinction between it and Holy Redeemer Christian Academy will be even more blurred.

Both schools will now use A Beka Book textbooks published by Pensacola Christian College. D. J. Young Academy will no longer need to obtain specific permission from parents for morning devotions and other religious instruction. Parents will still have the opportunity to remove ...

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September 7, 1998

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