Why Does Freemasonry Support Public Schools?

Annually the California Grand Lodge and its constituent Masonic lodges all through the state proclaim one month to be “Public Faculties Month.” A proclamation is routinely delivered by the sitting Grand Grasp, learn aloud in every constituent lodge throughout a number of month-to-month acknowledged conferences. Its function has all the time been to encourage lodges to plan a program publicly supporting Public Faculties in a manner that reveals for all to see the depth of Freemasonry’s dedication.

Till 2011, every constituent lodge was typically left to determine for itself what to do with out the advantage of additionally embracing a statewide Masonic challenge through which it might grow to be concerned. That effort has been a moderately haphazard implementation of a sequence of various actions by completely different lodges working independently of one another. The applications ranged from elaborate and energetic interplay with chosen Public Faculties to nothing in any respect.

There are a lot of numerous explanation why sure lodges have achieved little or nothing. In some lodges the members haven’t been notably energetic exterior of lodge ritual or lodge social occasions. In different lodges the previous management merely didn’t present satisfactory imaginative and prescient. And in but different lodges monetary sources had been insufficient to do rather more than wrestle to help the naked minimal of actions.

However all of that modified in 2011 for California Masons and their lodges. Grand Grasp William J. Bray III led the way in which to implementing a statewide Masonic dedication to the state’s public colleges. Though it was his management that offered the power for implementing the applications, the plan got here from strange Masons who work within the trenches of Freemasonry all through the state.

The latest Grand Lodge Strategic Plan is the product of a survey taken by its Govt Committee and workers delivered to each member of a constituent lodge. Woven into the material of that plan was the overwhelmingly hottest response: Masonry ought to grow to be a power for profoundly invigorating our Public Faculties. Masons up and down the state concluded that it was vital to avoid wasting public training, make it higher than ever earlier than, and show to our communities that Masons imagine {that a} profitable system of free public training is important to the continuation of a free society.

To higher perceive why such a various group of women and men from differing political, spiritual and cultural backgrounds stand linked arm-in-arm in help of public colleges, it’s instructive to first learn the way and why public colleges got here to dominate America’s instructional system. Quite a lot of credit score for that goes to Horace Mann – the “Father of the Frequent College Motion” – who additionally occurred to be a Mason. It will be a mistake, nonetheless, to conclude that Mann’s dedication to the general public college trigger was attributable to his being a Mason. It will even be a mistake to deduce that Freemasonry helps Public Faculties just because Horace Mann was a Mason. The reality of the matter is that Masonry embraces values that Mann discovered interesting sufficient to be initiated into the Craft. Freemasonry and Mann shared the identical reverence for advantage, morality and the development of an enlightened public.

Right now, Public Faculties are the first supply for educating our youngsters from kindergarten by way of highschool. That was not all the time so, for from the start of this nation till the current day advancing the reason for Public College training has been strongly opposed by mother and father with highly effective political backing who’ve steadfastly resisted turning their kids over to lecturers for his or her ethical training. Even in America’s early years some kids had been home-schooled. If their mother and father had been rich sufficient others had been taught by personal tutors. Nevertheless, quickly after the American Revolution was concluded, Thomas Jefferson initiated a nationwide dialogue that gained such large momentum that Public Faculties ultimately turned the norm moderately than the exception.

Jefferson argued {that a} free and impartial society could be stronger if all of its residents acquired equal entry to information – information which every might then apply of their each day lives. On the finish of the Revolution the nation discovered itself with none instructional system and the folks had been left to fend for themselves. To treatment the matter, Jefferson – who at numerous occasions argued with equal vigor for small and enormous authorities – urged that tax {dollars} be used to fund a nationwide instructional system. His suggestion was ignored on the time and his thought languished for almost a century.

By the 1840’s just a few Public Faculties had popped up across the nation financially supported by communities that would afford them. At about this time Horace Mann started his personal campaign, selecting up the place Jefferson had left off. Mann’s life story can’t be advised right here, however suffice to state that if he had not acted with energetic, single-minded dedication to what he believed was essential, Massachusetts wouldn’t have handed the primary obligatory training legal guidelines in 1852. New York adopted the next 12 months and by 1918 all American kids had been required to no less than attend elementary college. What adopted was the nothing lower than the profitable pursuit of one thing shared in frequent by Freemasonry and America’s Founding Fathers: equality.

On the flip of the twentieth century colleges within the South, in addition to many within the north had been segregated. In 1896, in a case entitled Plessy v. Ferguson, america Supreme Court docket dominated that segregation was authorized – a choice that will be overturned a long time later within the 1954 Supreme Court docket choice in Brown v. The Board of Training of Topeka Kansas. What was at problem in 1954 and determined as soon as and all the time was the perfect that every one males are created equal beneath the eyes of the Supreme Architect of the Universe – no less than with regards to the query of equal entry to training. It actually comes as no shock that the Chief Justice in 1954 was Earl Warren who, like Horace Mann, was a Mason. From that 12 months ahead all Public Faculties have been open to kids of all ethnic backgrounds.

Between 1896 and 1954, Masons all through America led the cost for the development of enlightenment with its clarion name for the help of Public Faculties. It’s neither ironic nor wholly stunning that the primary time the Historic & Accepted Scottish Ceremony for the Southern Jurisdiction of america, whose see is at Charleston, North Carolina, ventured out into the world of group service was to additional the reason for Public Faculties. A lot gratitude is owed to the Grand Commander on the time, George F. Moore, for his uncompromising management in that enterprise.

Earlier than being elected Grand Commander in 1914 by the Supreme Council, Moore – a prolific author – auditioned his Masonic place in favor of Public Faculties in such publications as The New Age – a predecessor to at the moment’s Scottish Ceremony Journal. His makes an attempt, made earlier than the onset of World Conflict I, had been properly acquired all over the place – together with in New York which was prompted by males equivalent to Moore, in addition to organizations such because the Scottish Ceremony to go it is obligatory training legal guidelines in 1918. Within the years after Moore had handed his elected place as Grand Commander on to John Cowles, the Scottish Ceremony turned identified all through America as the nice promoter of nationwide literacy by way of the auspices of Public Faculties.

California Masons had been no much less energetic of their help of Public Faculties. In 1920 Charles A. Adams, Grand Grasp of Masons in California made Public Faculties a Masonic challenge for the primary time. The calls for for manpower made upon the populace by World Conflict I led to the flight of 1000’s of lecturers from their school rooms. Extra vital jobs awaited them: fight abroad, attending to farmlands to develop the meals essential to maintain a struggling nation, and manufacturing factories that needed to fulfill ever rising calls for for the manufacturing and supply of battle materiel. Grand Grasp Adams witnessed the accompanying fallout with nice alarm. Roughly 600 colleges had been closed all through California – a rare quantity for that point.

Though Freemasonry has persistently shunned participating in or taking sides on this planet of public politics, Grand Grasp Adams prudently weighed the benefits and downsides of doing so on behalf of Public Faculties. At its core, Masonry had all the time inculcated in its members the significance of pursuing information. Its ritual sought to impress upon candidates for Masonic levels the significance of finding out the liberal arts and sciences, equivalent to grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. And the very thought concerning the institution of Public Faculties all through the nation seemingly originated with our first President – and one in every of Freemasonry’s most outstanding members. In a letter to his Vice President, John Adams, George Washington wrote:

“Clever and even handed modes of training, patronized and supported by communities, will draw collectively the sons of the wealthy and the poor, amongst whom it makes no distinction; it’ll domesticate pure genius, elevate the soul, excite laudable emulation to excel in information, piety, and benevolence; and eventually it’ll reward its patrons and benefactors by shedding its benign affect on the general public thoughts.”

There was further Masonic priority for Grand Grasp Adams to attract upon earlier than deciding what to do. De Witt Clinton, who served as Grand Grasp of Masons in New York, in addition to Governor of that state, embraced the reason for Public Faculties so emphatically that he’s identified at the moment because the “Father of New York Public Faculties.” Whereas serving as Grand Grasp of Masons in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin brazenly endorsed the adoption of Public Faculties in that state.

With that historical past and precedent to help him, Grand Grasp Adams decided that California Masons ought to take a public stance in help of strengthening the Public Faculties system on this state. He knew that Masonry had a long-standing perception that public training was important to sustaining a free society. Certainly, Masonic virtues promoted an idea that went far past encouraging the mere accumulation of information: equal entry to information promotes freedom and strengthens the center class with out which democratic rules elementary to this Republic will wither away and ultimately disappear. On these grounds it was simple for Grand Grasp Adams on August 30, 1920 to problem the primary Masonic Public Faculties Week Proclamation.

The historical past of Masonry’s help of Public Faculties didn’t finish there. That help has continued since then in each Masonic jurisdiction, however was maybe most profoundly demonstrated by the persevering with nationwide work by the Scottish Ceremony. For instance, seizing upon the examples set by Grand Commanders Moore and Cowles – that freedom is probably the most important blessing any man can take pleasure in – Brook Hays, a Thirty-Third diploma Scottish Ceremony Mason and Arkansas congressman actually sacrificed his political profession for Public Faculties.

A lay-preacher and former president of the Southern Baptist Conference, Hays additionally took a stand towards a lot of his Southern Baptist cronies by main the general public cost towards Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who opposed offering public training equally to all races. Owing to Hays’ braveness and persistence, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Arkansas Nationwide Guard to enter motion. By his command they superior into that state and restored obedience to the brand new regulation of the land – Brown v. The Board of Training of Topeka, Kansas – and thereby perpetually linked all of America and Freemasonry to a dedication to a free public training for all folks.

In 1985 when Fred Kleinknecht was elected to function Grand Commander of the Scottish Ceremony, Public Faculties had been beneath assault by numerous spiritual organizations bent upon wresting management of training from the arms of a secular public. Two Masonic values had been beneath assault: the liberty of faith and the appropriate of all folks to a free public training. Kleinknecht was decided to proceed the work of his predecessor, Henry Clausen, to maintain faith separate from the state – the one and solely sure technique to stop the tyranny of theocratic doctrine. Grand Commander Kleinknecht would perpetually be dogged throughout his tenure by spiritual fundamentalists who ultimately turned their ire straight towards Masonry – an ire that to today has not completely abated.

It did not assist Kleinknecht’s place within the eyes of his persistent detractors that Clausen had beforehand taken a agency public stance towards prayer in Public Faculties whereas serving as Grand Commander. To these fervently urgent for inclusion of prayer in Public Faculties, Clausen’s stance was seen as emblematic of all that’s mistaken with Masonry. The outcome has been a steady and unrelenting effort to discredit the Craft and its members. It’s no shock that the assault by some highly effective forces upon Public Faculties has additionally elevated and poses a menace to a bedrock of human freedom.

Right now our Public Faculties are operated on the state degree by departments of training, and domestically by college districts, in addition to publicly elected or appointed officers. By one estimate there are roughly 15,000 such college districts working all through the nation. Most are supervised and run by particular person counties. As a result of there’s little federal oversight, curricula differs from state to state – a indisputable fact that has prompted some to opine that larger coordination or centralization would even out the present disparities among the many states in scholar efficiency.

Whereas literacy charges amongst college students in any respect ranges in elementary college are maybe an important problem for Masons to focus upon, it’s equally vital to grasp why some outspoken critics of Public Faculties blame poor efficiency upon the system and its lecturers, however give little credit score to both when college students carry out properly. The maxim “comply with the cash” is especially related.

First, Public Faculties are funded by tax monies paid by taxpaying residents. Nobody likes paying taxes and when they’re requested to pay greater than they’ve up to now, many individuals level fingers of blame at supposed inefficiencies inside the system.

Property taxes pay for many of the price of Public Faculties. Though some monies move into the system from mother and father, personal fundraising, in addition to federal, state and native governments, it stays these taxes which comprise the lion’s share of funding. In California, a so-called “taxpayer revolt” and well-financed political marketing campaign led to the passage of one thing known as “The Individuals’s Initiative to Restrict Property Taxation.” Whereas the advantages and hurt of that regulation can perpetually be debated, one truth about Public Faculties is past debate: for the reason that 1960’s when California colleges had been extremely ranked among the many nation’s Public Faculties, there was a gradual decline since The Individuals’s Initiative was made regulation. Right now the state’s Public College college students now rank forty eighth out of fifty states in lots of surveys about scholar achievement.

For Masonry the problem isn’t about endorsing or opposing larger taxes, and even to undertake a place in that emotionally-charged debate. Moderately, the problem is to totally comprehend the forces at work for and towards Public Faculties. Our dialogue isn’t about whether or not to help Public Faculties – it’s about how greatest Masonry can accomplish that. Consequently it’s important for Masons to have interaction in a dispassionate dialogue about Public Faculties with out getting drawn into the politics that by no means appear distant. Maybe the discussion board our Craft supplies, devoid of political ambition, is the very best discussion board inside which that dialogue can happen.

On April 1, 2011, the California Grand Lodge will “kick-off” its strategic plan to make a profound distinction in public training. Celebrations up and down the state will happen at numerous Public College websites supposed to speak clearly and really publicly that Masonry intends to work for the development of Public Faculties. It intends to take action as a result of a productive, educated center class is prime to the perpetuation of a free society. Enlightened folks won’t simply relinquish the freedoms first established by the Founding Fathers.

There may be vital work remaining to be achieved by California Masons. A kick-off celebration with out one thing of substance to comply with is little greater than a present – not an effort to make a profound distinction. Public college advisory councils drawing upon the skills and sources of Masons inside their geographical boundaries consisting of a mixture of age teams to debate and determine upon methods to implement the Grand Lodge’s strategic plan maintain out a lot promise for fulfillment. Masonry is at its greatest when it coordinates its lodges right into a power for good. The advisory councils might be such a power.

Equally vital, public college advisory councils present a possibility to California Masons that may not in any other case exist: the chance to have interaction members who’re looking for one thing significant with which to make a private dedication. As they progress by way of the assorted levels of initiation, from the First to the Third Diploma, Masons anticipate studying about how they could be a a part of one thing that adjustments society – and adjustments it positively. Our fraternal help of Public Faculties gives the Craft an exquisite, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime likelihood to place Masons to work to implement Masonic values devoted to the hope that freedom will all the time prevail and that the pursuit of information will perpetually be accessible to the wealthy and the poor, the excessive and the low – to all no matter station in life.

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