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State Rep. Travis Dunlap writes public education is “atheist-based” in email to constituent

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OKLAHOMA – A state representative is receiving criticism for declaring public education is “atheist-based” in an email Wednesday to one of his constituents.

Rep. Travis Dunlap, R- Bartlesville, comments came from a response to a resident suggesting he vote for House Bill 2949, according to the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.

The proposed bill would create the Education Savings Account Act.

  • The bill would utilize state taxpayer funds for parents to send their children if eligible to attend an accredited public or private schools, including religious schools.

 

  • The bill would also take state funding reserved for public schools and allow parents to apply them for fees and tuition or private or virtual schools.

 

  • The bill would also the purchasing renting or subscribing to a service providing textbooks, other learning materials or programs.

 

Dunlap indicated he is in favor of the bill, but several of his constituents have communicated with him in opposition to the bill, according to the article.

One of Dunlap’s constituents with three children currently attending Bartlesville Public Schools emailed him writing “even as a Christian woman, she does not want to see tax dollars used to fund religious education,” according to the Examiner-Enterprise.

Dunlap emailed her the following response:

“I only want to point out that I hear many parents who choose alternative education express the same frustration when they see what their tax dollars support at public school, which are atheist-based.” 

Dunlap’s response sent off a controversy from educators and parents when it went viral on social media, according to the Examiner-Enterprise .

Dunlap did not attend for the term to be an attack on educators, he told Examiner-Enterprise on Thursday.

In an interview, he said:

“I, in no way, wanted to insult teachers or people who are in the schools or comment, really, on anything that the schools were doing. It was merely an acknowledgment of what our society and culture has decided would be the basis for schools, which a more useful term would have been secular.

I probably could have communicated it better, and I did not mean to insult, certainly, any believer that is in the school system, working and doing what I believe is a ministry to kids.”

HB 2949 has been sent to the full House of Representatives for consideration.