Philadelphia Jewish School Among Defendants in Suit Filed on Aid-to-education

Two Jewish day schools here are among defendants in a suit filed by six organizations, including a Jewish one, asking a Federal court to bar state-financed help to nonpublic schools as a violation of the Federal Constitution. The two Jewish schools are the Akiba Hebrew Academy and the Beth Jacob Schools. The Pennsylvania Jewish Community Relations Conference is one of the plaintiffs. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, asserted that the law would “perpetuate and promote” racial segregation in schools and ultimately would result in two school systems, “a public school system predominantly black, poor and inferior, and a non-public schools system predominantly white, affluent and superior.”

Also listed as defendants were State Superintendent of Public Instruction David H. Kurtzman; Grace Sloan, state treasurer; two Catholic schools, Germantown Lutheran Academy and others. The suit asked that a three-judge Federal panel be convened to bar Mr. Kurtzman and Mrs. Sloan from approving any payments under the law. Spokesman for the plaintiff organizations said that the suit would be treated as a “precedent-setting action” and that it would be carried to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Non-public School Aid act, first of its kind in the United States, was approved last year. The original bill would have provided $4.2 million this year to non-public schools in Pennsylvania. This year, the State House of Representatives approved a measure increasing 1969 funds to $21 million and next year’s funds to $41 million.

(Washington Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel of America, in House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education testimony, has called upon Congress to restore the full funding of all Federal aid programs for education. The “partnership between the public and non-public schools can only meet the historic responsibility of this generation if Congress places a top national priority on educational funding,” he said. Agudath favors Federal aid for the secular programs of religious schools.)

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