Page images

It should here be noted that the unvarying stress in all of the leading recent public pronouncements upon education is upon education as a national need and therefore as something to be rendered to all. It is never suggested in these statements that any racial or religious or economic or ethnic or income group, if educable, should be excluded.

It would be unthinkable, moreover, that an expanded American educational program would destroy certain values and traditions in American society without which that society would be no longer American. And all American educational and political leaders who have been proclaiming the new frontiers for our educational effort, have laid heavy and specific stress upon the need to maintain those values and traditions, indeed to revitalize them. Among the chief of these are the moral values of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Requiring equal stress, because of its close relationship to freedom is that tradition of harmony-in-diversity which we call intellectual and cultural pluralism. The general increase of scientific endeavor and knowledge would in the end have been achieved in vain if the price paid for it were the acceptance of a moral order whose sole standard was the will of the state and of a pervasive conformity to a state-imposed single culture.

While, as has been noted, no position is here taken respecting the need for federal aid to education, it is apparent that two principles should ideally govern an American educational program for the future:

1. It is in the national interest that every child have the opportunity for an education of excellence.

2. It is in the national interest that our moral heritage be preserved, along with our freedom to acquire education in diverse, nonstate institutions.

In simple terms this means that every American child should have equal opportunity, according to his talents, to acquire the best education possible but to acquire it in such school as he or his parents, in the exercise of their judgment, deem most desirable, provided such school meets reasonable state requirements of intellectual and physical competency. To achieve this objective, government need not be restricted to a single technique in selecting programs of aid to education—such as to extend aid through the institution only, or solely through parent or solely through pupil. Any such technique may be reasonable and the choice thereof should be determined by government's informed view as to how education will best be advanced.

But if aid through institutions is the selected means, then if governmental aid is to be given through some institutions (even if a majority) which are deemed competent to carry on the task of educating citizens, then it should be given through all institutions similarly competent— unless constitutional requirements plainly dictate to the contrary. This is necessary to emphasize, since it is being strongly intimated in some quarters that nonstate schools somehow do not perform a public service; that especially the church-related schools are in some way alien to America; and that all which is nonstate inherently has no standing to receive state support." This view, far more than clear constitutional objection, lies at the heart of much of the controversy over aid to education in church-related schools. But to expose this view by plainly stating it is at once to scotch it, since it is immediately apparent not only that it attacks the great American tradition of popular, church-related schooling, but that it also points the way to a totalitarian society. The campaign which it would inspire would begin with the forcing out of church-related education but its end could be a totally sovietized state. It is an irony of the present debate that this view should have made headway, because while it talks constitutionalism, it weakens constitutionalism and the related concept of a diverse and free society. What the debate now needs is fresh recollection of American traditions of cultural differentiation and private initiative, along with a far more exacting scrutiny of the American constitution—an organic document which over the generations has proved hospitable to enlarged concepts of social needs, while preserving individual freedom. Considering in a particular way both our public schools and our church-related schools, it would be a very great mistake to assume that the former need be any the less devoted to the expression of our traditional moral values than are the latter. Indeed our great public school system—built by men of all faiths—should receive the particular interest (as it does the financial support) of those who are dedicated to the church-related schools, since no citizen should shirk his duty to work for the common good in all areas of society. 7 See, e.g., Hearings on Public School Assistance Act of 1961 Before the Subcommittee on Education of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, 87th Cong., 1st Sess. 516, 527 (1961) (testimony of M. W. Little and Agnes Meyer); Hearings on the National Defense Education Act. Before the Joint Subcommittee on Education of the House ComOn the other hand, the church-related and other private schools should be far better appreciated by that large part of the public which has not had direct association with them.

mittee on Education and Labor, 87th Cong., 1st Sess. 238-39 (1961) (testimony of Dr. Edgar Fuller); Editorial, The New Republic, March 20, 1961.

2. Church-Related Schools and the Public Welfare

The church-related school, teaching largely the same curriculum as the public school for the general education of the citizen, is not an intruding latecomer on the American educational scene. It represents, rather, our original source of popular education and, far from being a distractive force deviating from the American educational tradition, it stands instead at the core of that tradition and as a force which emphasizes certain moral and spiritual values with which that tradition is identified.

The elementary schools in all the colonies had the teaching of religion as their chief aim and as their main component. And Massachusetts, in 1647, enacted what has been described as “the first system of public education in the colonies.” Known as the “Old Deluder” Act, it provided:

It being one chiefe project of ye ould deluder, Satan, to keepe men from the

knowledge of ye Scriptures . . . . It is therefore ordred, yt evry towneship in

this iurisdiction, aftr ye Lord hath increased ye number to 50 housholders, shall then forthwth appoint one wth in their towne to teach all such children....”

New York, a nontheocratic colony, adopted a similar law. Education in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and throughout the South, was emphatically religious.” One of the earliest tasks to which French and Spanish missionaries in America devoted themselves was the founding of schools. They were among the first in the land, and, while they offered training in secular subjects, they were religious in nature generally. The end of the colonial era and the coming of the Republic witnessed no change with respect to the strongly religious character of the American people, and it is not therefore surprising that hospitality to the religious upbringing of their children should have marked public attitudes toward education. The third article of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 directly linked religion with good government and the wellbeing of society, and thus stated a major purpose of education: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The document has been described as “second only in importance to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution as a guarantee of religious freedom.” The Northwest Ordinance was re-enacted August 7, 1789 by the first session of the First Congress,” the same Congress to which a few weeks later, on September 26, 1789, the Conference Committee report proposed the final draft of the first amendment. It was later praised in the highest terms by Webster” and by Lincoln.” The Southwest Ordinance, passed by the First Congress in 1790, applying to Tennessee and eventually to the entire Mississippi Territory, contained the same provision. Nor did the new education movement launched by Horace Mann in the 1830's seek the abolition of religion in the schools. To the contrary, it was definitely intended that the new schools should provide knowledge of religion along with traditional moral training. While Mann desired sectarianism kept out of the public school curriculum—what he called “special and peculiar instructions respecting theology”—he defined education to include moral and religious upbringing. He concluded his lecture in 1838 on “The Necessity of Education in a Republican Government” by stating: And, finally, by the term education I mean such a culture of our moral affections and religious sensibilities, as in the course of nature and Providence shall lead to a subjection and conformity of all our appetites, propensities, and sentiments to the Will of Heaven.” Similar expressions from American educational leaders are to be found in abundance over the remaining decades of the nineteenth century and, indeed, down to the present. There is no purpose here to suggest criticism of the reasons why public school education in America became to a considerable extent secular rather than religious, nor is it suggested that it is inevitably true that certain trends toward sterilizing the public schools of any minimal efforts to acquaint children with God or the Commandments or prayer will continue.” It is, on the other hand, merely pointed out that it cannot with any accuracy be said that the American tradition of education is somehow a tradition of irreligion. On the contrary, it is a stubborn fact of our history that that tradition is one of hospitality to religious values and to a religiously based moral training. Today, church-related schools of the United States are making a vast and patent contribution to the public welfare. Considering the largest of the groups of these—the schools under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church—the extensiveness of citizen education which it supplies is remarkable. The phrase of the preceding sentence—“citizen education which it supplies”—bears repeating, since, as will later be stressed herein, these schools supply not some form of special or eccentric training, of which society can take no notice, but education recognized by the state as meeting essential citizen needs. In 1960 there were enrolled in Catholic elementary schools 4,401,824 pupils.” In the same year Catholic secondary schools had an enrollment of 885,406 students. It is estimated that in 1961 Catholic elementary schools are providing education to approximately four-and-a-half million children and Catholic secondary schools to approximately one million children. In 1960 Catholic elementary and secondary schools were educating 12.6% of the total school population, and for 1961 the percentage is believed to be slightly higher. In a number of states and the District of Columbia Catholic schools are educating considerably higher percentages of the children in school—in Rhode Island 25.8%, Wisconsin 23.3%, Pennsylvania 21.9%, Massachusetts 21.9%, Illinois 21.3%, New Hampshire 21%, New Jersey 21%, New York 20.8%, Delaware 18%, Minnesota 16.9%, Vermont 15.6%, Ohio 15.4%, Maryland 15%, Missouri 14.8%, Connecticut 14.7%, Michigan 14.4%, Louisiana 14.3%, Nebraska 14.1%, District of Columbia 13.8%, Iowa 12.9%. Thus in nineteen states (and the District of Columbia) having a total school population of 21,868,683, and whose school population represents 51.9% of the total national school population, Catholic parochial schools are performing the public service of educating 18.6% of all children in elementary and secondary schools. While one child out of every ten American children in Hawaii receives in a Catholic school the complete education deemed adequate by the more super ct, April 28, 1961; Engel v. vitale, 10 N.Y.2d 114, 176 N.E.2d 579, is: N.Y.S.2d 659, cert. granted, 30 U.S.L. Week 3177 (U.S. Dec. 5, 1961) (No. 468).

8 The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts (1648) at 47 (1929). 9 See Dunn, What Happened to Religious Education? 16 (1958).

10 1 Stat. 549.

11 Quoted in 1 Am. Hist. Ass'n Rep. 56 (1896).

12 Speech in Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 16, 1859, in 1 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln 549 (ed. Nicolay-Hay 1894).

13 2 Life and Works of Horace Mann 144 (1891).

14 See Resnick v. Dade County Bö. of Pub. Instruction, No. 59C 4928 and No. 59C 8873, Cir. Ct. of 11th Judicial Cir., Fla., May, 1961; Murray v. Curlett, No. 64708, Balti15 The statistics for which no other reference is given in the following paragraphs are contained in, or computed from, the figures given in the General Summary of The Official

« PreviousContinue »