Friday, November 18, 2005

Martin Duggan Gives Talk on Educational Freedom

Martin Duggan, former editorial page editor of the Saint Louis Globe-Democrat and host of the Emmy-award winning KETC Channel 9 discussion show Donnybrook, gave a talk on freedom of education in Missouri.

Public education originally meant public funding for all schools. Until the 1950s, private and parochial elementary and high school children had textbooks and transportation paid for by public funding, just like the public schools. An activist Supreme Court and agitation from groups—including most notably the Klan—eliminated this funding. Now state funds go to publicly-owned schools. The status quo is now supported by the teachers' unions and allied politicians, leading to great injustice, namely, the lack of parental control over education.

Martin said that parents have the primary right of educating children, which is very much under attack now.

In 1959, Martin's wife Mae Duggan founded Citizens for Educational Freedom (, the first organization in the United States dedicated to educational freedom. This organization promotes school vouchers, which will allow parents to send their children to any school. The organization was praised by President Ronald Reagan and by Milton Friedman.

Martin noted that today, November 18, is the feast day of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Saint Louisan and founder of the first free school west of the Mississippi River.

Martin made the analogy between the fight for educational freedom and the creed of the United States Marine Corps. He also quoted Churchill, in stating that we will never, never, never, give up.

Closing remarks were made by Victor Wendl. He noted that public schools are the only government entitlement that requires spending in government-owned institutions, unlike Medicare, Food Stamps, or even higher education. The spending on public schools is the largest part of the state budget, and is growing quickly. Victor stated that a major problem with promoting school vouchers is the view of many rural Missourians who are happy with the unity of their local institutions: in many small towns, everyone goes to the high school football game on Saturday, and then worship in the same Protestant church on Sunday morning. In these towns, there is a great fear that under a voucher system, children may leave the area to go to city Catholic schools, and then eventually Catholic schools will move in and start making converts, disrupting the social order. Victor also said that local school superintendents have great power and influence over state legislators.

Invocation and Benediction was given by Rev. Msgr. Jerome Sommer, new pastor at St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish (the Rock Church), who mentioned the great success at Cardinal Ritter College Prep, Central Catholic, and the Jesuit St. Matthew School, all in north Saint Louis. These schools educate urban children to a far higher standard than the un-accredited St. Louis public school system, at a far lower cost per child.

About Citizens for Educational Freedom:
Our membership consists of citizens and supporting groups of every race, color, creed, and party.

Our purpose is to promote the primary rights of parents to freedom of choice, justice and quality in education for all.

We support policies which will allocate a fair share of educational tax dollars for each child to take to the school their parents choose, while protecting parents and schools from undue government regulation and control.

Educational Freedom means:

  • Parental choice

  • Equal treatment under the law for all families

  • Fair Competition among schools

  • improved educational quality

  • Taxpayer savings

  • Religious liberty

Citizens for Educational Freedom
9333 Clayton Road
Saint Louis, MO 63124-1511

Phone: (314) 997-6361

Nationalism in our country has led to education being controlled and funded at ever-higher levels of government, and ends up promoting philosophies that are popular with the political elite. With the new Foundation Formula of funding in the State of Missouri, funds are no longer controlled at even the school board level, but are controlled by the State. The Federal Government is also spending much money and is adding additional layers of control. A recent Federal District Court ruling even says that parents have no say in the education of their children.

The educational cost per child is more than $11,000 per year in the City of Saint Louis. These schools are not accredited, are dangerous, and provide some of the worst education in the world.

By contrast, the Catholic educational system, although a part of an international heirarchical organization, is funded locally by parents at the level of the individual school. Some of these Catholic schools are bad and are closed, while others flourish. These schools are inexpensive, and the level of education is second only to the most expensive of private schools.

The United States has the best university system in the world, while our public primary and secondary education is worse than even many desperately poor African countries. Money has never been a solution to fixing this problem. This came about because of the monopoly in early education: higher education does not have a monopoly, so each school must be careful to provide a good education, otherwise it will fail. Primary and secondary education, however, is not allowed to fail, no matter how bad it gets; it just gets more funding. Even atheists, long-time proponents of public education, are getting disgusted by low quality and political meddling, and are setting up their own private schools.

I am convinced that every type of education and educational philosophy has at its core a religious element to it—or the philosophical equivalent to the basic beliefs of religion.

Originally, schools were funded without regard to religion, so we had mainly Protestant schools and Catholic schools, with a prominent number of "progressive" or atheist schools in the mix, all funded by the taxpayer. School consolidation and lawsuits led to the adoption of the philosophy of Deism, where the abstract God of the Enlightenment is invoked; it is this conception of God that is on our money and in our Pledge of Allegiance. Lawsuits by atheists led to wholesale adoption of the "progressive" philosophy of education. Very quickly the Marxist roots of this type of education lost support due to the horrors of Communism, while a new Environmentalist world-view, which is a form of pantheism, became popular.

Our current public school philosophy tends to atheism or indifferentism, and now is becoming pantheistic or syncretic. Is it a surprise that large numbers of our youth say that they are "spiritual but not religious"? Where did they get this idea? Schools that attempt a philosophy of pluralism necessarily falls into the trap of promoting or assuming one of these philosophies which is incompatable with Christianity. Religious liberty demands parental freedom of school choice.

Never surrender.

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