NEW YORK (Feb. 14)
A call for large-scale federal aid for public education was combined with strong opposition to major features of the pending federal aid to education bill in a joint statement made public this weekend by six major national Jewish organizations. The stand was taken by the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., National Council of Jewish Women, Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the United Synagogue of America.
In their statement, the organizations welcomed the assistance to public education in impoverished areas that the Administration bill would provide, and expressed the hope that “more nearly adequate” aid would be forthcoming in the future. But they objected to the measure’s inclusion of benefits to non-public, including religiously controlled, schools and its specification requiring that such schools and other non-public institutions and agencies be made participants in the planning and operation of various programs and services.
These provisions endanger the future of public education, and violate the constitutional prohibition of the use of public funds to support religious institutions and enterprises, the statement asserted, calling for the following changes in the bill:
1. Provision for judicial review in the federal courts of the constitutionality of its provisions and its administration, by any public school board; 2. The placing of exclusive control of the administration of federal grants or programs and of the distribution of materials under the bill in the hands of wholly public agencies.
3. Omission of provisions for direct or indirect grants for the acquisition of textbooks and other instructional materials for loan to pupils and teachers in religiously controlled schools; 4. Removal of mandatory requirements for participation by religious and other non-public agencies in control or direction of programs for which funds are allocated, such as the supplementary educational centers provided by the legislation; and 5. Elimination of any requirement that public schools participate in any dual enrollment or shared-time program as a condition of receiving a federal grant.
(In Boston, today, Howard M. Squadron, chairman of the commission on law and social action of the American Jewish Congress, reiterated before the organization’s national governing council today statements he had made at a hearing in Washington to the effect tint federal funds to aid education and fight poverty should go “only to those public facilities and public institutions open to all citizens.”)