NEW YORK (Feb. 10)
Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller’s opposition to the Speno-Lerner Parent-Aid bill has been hailed by Leo Pfeffer, chief attorney for the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL). Pfeffer, who is also chief counsel to the American Jewish Congress, called the Governor’s comments “a statesmanlike recognition that public support must not go to non-public schools if the public schools are not to become merely a dumping ground for the disadvantaged including racial minorities, the poor and the children no other school wants.” Rockefeller said in Albany on Monday that the Parent-Aid bill, which would provide tuition grants to parents of private-school pupils, would be “the first step to undermine, if not destroy, the public school system of our country, not just the state,” and would be fatal to the school-integration movement. The Governor restated, however, that he favored repeal of the Blaine Amendment, which bars all aid to private schools.
Pfeffer said Rockefeller’s rejection of Speno-Lerner was “a strong reaffirmation of the Governor’s long-time commitment to integration” and a recognition that the bill’s tuition grants would be “a fatal step en route to full funding of such schools.” The chief counsel reserved comment on Rockefeller’s support of Blaine repeal. The Association of Reform Rabbis of Greater New York and Vicinity issued a statement today reaffirming its “complete opposition” to any public aid to private schools. “Any attempt aimed at giving public funds to non-public schools can only result in the further deterioration of the public school system,” the association declared. It urged its congregations, the members of the State Legislature and all New Yorkers to “reject any and all efforts that are made to subvert or circumvent” the current ban on such aid. The association’s statement made no specific references to Gov. Rockefeller’s Monday remarks.