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Blaine Amendment Repeal and Pending ‘parent-aid’ Bill Praised and Assailed

The “Parent-Aid” bill, which proposes that financial aid be given directly to the parents of parochial school children, was praised today by the Orthodox Agudath Israel of America. At the same time, however, the bill, introduced into the education committees of both branches of the New York State legislature last week, was attacked by the AJ Congress as “an attempt to evade the state constitution and an affront to the wishes of the citizens of the state.” Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Executive President of Agudath Israel, said that the bill was a method “of providing immediate assistance to financially-harassed non-public school parents” without waiting until the controversial Blaine Amendment is repealed. His organization supports repeal of the Blaine Amendment, which prohibits state aid to religiously affiliated schools.

The “Parent-Aid” bill, sponsored by 16 state legislators, would reimburse parents of parochial school children for tuition costs between the amounts of $50 and $250 per child, depending on family income. The AJ Congress spokesman declared that his group would mount an active campaign against the bill’s adoption if passage seemed likely. The spokesman said that the intent of the bill is “equally as dangerous as the repeal of the Blaine Amendment.”

The Jewish Labor Committee, which also condemns the “Parent-Aid” bill, criticized today the proposal to repeal the Blaine Amendment, being acted on today by the Senate. David I, Ashe, chairman of the Committee, said that repeal of the Amendment would provide an easy “escape route” from the public schools for middle class children. “It would further segregate and polarize our society.” PEARL, a coalition of civic and religious groups for Public Education and Religious Liberty, held a news conference today at which several Jewish groups, including the AJ Congress, the Jewish Labor Committee, the AJ Committee, and the B’nai B’rith expressed opposition to the repeal of the Amendment. Its repeal requires approval of both branches of the state legislature in both this session and the next one, and then approval in a referendum of the state’s voters.

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