Skip to comments.School Choice as Social Justice (roots of anti-catholicism in public education)
Posted on 04/08/2013 4:40:10 AM PDT by NYer
I’ve always relished the family lore that had us related to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Alas, my genealogical research has yet to uncover a connection to this famous patriot, but my personal interest in Charles’ history has given me a front row seat into the anti-Catholic thread in the warp and woof of our country’s founding.
The general public has little appreciation for the effect this anti-Catholic history has had on the development of our politics, especially with regard to education. Indeed, even many Catholics are unaware that a majority of states have a bias on this matter written into their very constitutions. These “Baby Blaines” as they are sometimes called, have various wordings but share one thing in common – prohibitions against public funding of “sectarian” education, “sectarian” being a code word for “Catholic” once upon a time.
James G. Blaine, a congressman from Maine, introduced the original Blaine Amendment in 1875. History is not clear on whether Blaine himself was anti-Catholic or just trying to capitalize on the electoral culture of the time to advance his political aspirations. Perhaps the latter since he had Catholics among his family members. Fortunately, the amendment failed, but only by a whisker.
The reason it came so close to passing was due to the widespread sentiment against the Catholic immigrants arriving on U. S. shores during that period. Since public schools were effectively Protestant institutions supported by public dollars, Catholics understandably wanted an educational system of their own. This resulted in Catholics being seen as separating themselves from the common public good and suspicions were easily enflamed regarding loyalty to their new country. The miter-alligators-climbing-out-of-the-swamp cartoon is a classic illustration of this era’s fears about Catholics.
Following the failure of the Blaine Amendment at the national level, proponents focused on the states. Their success can be seen in the number of state constitutions that incorporate versions of the Blaine Amendment.
Fast forward to 2013 and school choice has once again come to the fore for many reasons, not least the academic and moral concerns parents have for their children. But many would-be reformers are running into the brick wall of state constitutions. In most cases, parental choice is a nonstarter until the restrictive language can be altered through a constitutional amendment.
Blaine: a failure with an odious legacy
Catholics have many reasons to join these efforts. Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis, confirms not only the natural duties and rights of parents regarding school choice, but also the obligation of government to facilitate it:
Parents who have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children must enjoy true liberty in their choice of schools. Consequently, the public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children.
This passage encompasses in summary form the whole issue of school choice and why it should be fostered. Rarely, however, is parental choice seen as the social justice issue that it is. Instead, what we hear is the old argument that parents who choose parochial or other private schools are separating themselves from the public – and by extension – the common good; an argument that even the Ku Klux Klan used to its advantage in the 1920s.
Those who venture into this battle, however, had better gird their loins, because the anti-Catholicism that permeated our country at its founding has today morphed into anti-religious sentiment in general.
Comments by opponents are sometimes unbelievable. My personal favorite is the commentator who rejected school choice because he didn’t want to support any school that taught that Jesus rode on a dinosaur. With remarks like this, it’s difficult to know whether to laugh or cry.
The common theme among opponents is the separation of church and state, but as these things go, misinformation is the strategy of choice. Fortunately the U.S. Supreme Court in Zelman, clarified how to set up a system of school choice that does not violate the establishment clause.
Dennis Fradley, an Alaskan who favors school choice, has done an excellent job responding to the critics. Anyone contemplating involvement in combating state Blaine amendments ought to read him first, no matter the state.
The main misconception shared by opponents is the idea that public schools are morally and academically neutral. They show zero recognition that teaching a child that Heather has two mommies or that the use of a condom is an example of responsible sexual practice is to take a particular stand on morality that is nowhere near neutral.
It all puts me in mind of Benedict XVI’s remark in Light of the World, “no one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.” Indeed.
Great article and true. If you hate the government indoctrination system called “public schooling”, you have American anti-Catholics to blame. The more history I learn the clearer it becomes that our country’s troubles today have their roots in the unAmerican attempts to control people originating long ago.
Would we be fighting against Same Sex Marriage today if the Edmunds-Tucker Act was never passed? Over and over again for expediencies sake we’ve called on government to control our fellow man. That alone is unAmerican and unConstitutional.
I have no doubt the Leftists will ultimately succeed in closing Catholic schools or at a minimum, cause the shrink to be so huge that only a few and then only for the very wealthy, will be left.
Catholic schools have been dwindling away for decades.
They have closed schools or merged girls schools with boys schools in efforts to save the Catholic Education option in cities.
As the bite of taxes has risen the money available to parents to spend on quality education has diminished.
But on the other hand The moral values taught by Catholic schools is not what it once was. Political correctness has infiltrated Catholic education as it has public education. Not to the same extent but it is there and growing.
Catholic schools for the most part pull their teaching staff from the same pool of teachers as the public schools. This means that the Catholic school teachers have been indoctrinated to the same Liberal ideals as teachers at the public schools. This fact dictates that some of this indoctrination will inevitably pass through to the Catholic student.
The Catholic parent must be ever vigilant over what is being taught to their children and make their desires known to the administration of their childrens school.
Would we be fighting against Same Sex Marriage today if the Edmunds-Tucker Act was never passed? Over and over again for expediencies sake weve called on government to control our fellow man. That alone is unAmerican and unConstitutional.
Pretty much says it all.
Most places originally had a voucher system with private schools receiving money from on how many parents selected the school for their children. As far as I can find, there were minimum requirements for what someone who completed school should know and not much in the way of limiting who could teach. It all came down to headcount and since the Irish, Italian, and other immigrants made up the majority in many large cities, the Catholic schools got the majority of the money from vouchers.
When the battle for government schools began, there were a lot of anti-Catholic cartoons around but this has always been one of my favorites. At the time it was widely understood that only "the rich" were going to pay for schools because only "the rich" owned property in the cities and property taxes would pay for schools. It was widely accepted that taxes on homeowners would never be significant because "everyone knows" businesses would always pay the majority of all property taxes.
Not only were all existing voucher systems bad according to the proponents of government schools, even letting the Catholic Church run it's own schools in parallel with the public school system was a threat.
Without the media cheering them on to attack the Catholic Church, though, those tens of thousands of different Churches respond to government schools attacking everything Christian with a rousing,
People who refuse to accept that Jesus Christ is not the father of confusion are free to do so, but I accept what Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught and is still taught by the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church Jesus Christ Himself founded.
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Plank #10 of the Communist Manifesto, in 1848.
Blaine Amendments were a nefarious American addition to the Frankenstein monster that is government schooling.
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