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Supporters, Critics of State Aid to Private Schools Differ on Next Steps

January 19, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Supporters of state aid to parochial schools have urged Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller to seek constitutional means to render such support while opponents insisted that any action in that direction would be a deliberate circumvention of recent court decisions. The latest clash over parochiaid followed last week’s ruling by a federal district court in New York which struck down a state law providing $33 million in public funds for secular educational services in church-related schools.

Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky, national director of Torah Umesorah, called the court decision “a serious but not unexpected blow to the schools of New York State.” He urged Rockefeller “to assert your leadership in this area and immediately initiate new legislation to comply with the court’s mandate either through providing tuition aid directly to private schools, or by providing state income tax deductions for parents with children in day schools, or by increasing allotments for transportation, textbooks and administrative costs.”

But the presidents of the New York, Long Island, and Westchester chapters of the American Jewish Committee warned. in a letter to the Governor, that efforts in the New York State legislature to provide funds to non-public schools and thus by-pass this week’s court decision outlawing such aid would be “improper.”


They said that “Any proposed new legislation would constitute deliberate and reprehensible avoidance of the clear intent” of the court’s decision. The AJ Committee, however, reaffirmed its support in principle of dual enrollment in which religious school pupils could attend public school on a part-time basis for non-religious instruction.

The ruling of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York was in a suit brought by the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL), a coalition of religious, educational, labor and civil rights organizations. PEARL counsel Leo Pfeffer argued successfully that the New York State law was identical to laws in Pennsylvania, Rhodes Island and Connection that were ruled unconstitutional by a US Supreme Court decision last June 28.

Following the federal court’s ruling, Rockefeller issued a statement in Albany “reaffirming my conviction of the need for financial assistance within constitutional limits” and added, “I believe that an appropriate method can be found.”

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