Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

INTRODUCTION

The past decade has witnessed significant developments in the area of State and Federal aid to children attending nonpublic (private) schools.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 mandated educational benefits for eligible children enrolled in nonpublic schools. ESEA requires State departments of education to assure the U.S. Office of Education (USOE) that they will provide these benefits to nonpublic school children on a basis equitable or comparable with benefits provided to public school children. Each State must notify USOE if there are legal prohibitions against furnishing such aid.

In recent years, a number of States enacted laws providing aid to private and parochial schools, or to the parents who pay tuition to these schools, or to the children who are enrolled in them. In some States, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New York, these laws provided direct financial assistance to private schools. The U.S. Supreme Court found these laws unconstitutional on the grounds that they violated the clause in the First Amendment concerning the establishment of a religion.

Other States later passed laws aiding private schools, or aiding parents by way of tuition reimbursements or tax benefits. However, these laws were also declared unconstitutional.

In 1947 and 1968, State laws which provided benefits to both public and nonpublic school children, such as bus transportation and the loan of textbooks, were ruled constitutional. In 1971 and 1973, both State and Federal laws calling for direct public aid to private postsecondary institutions were upheld. These rulings were made at the same time that direct aid at the elementary and secondary levels was denied.

Another interesting Supreme Court decision came out of Wheeler v. Barrera in 1974. The State was told, if it wished to continue to participate in the program, that it was not to break its own laws in serving nonpublic school children under title I of ESEA but must find a way to serve these children on a basis comparable, but not necessarily identical, to services provided public school children.

The flurry of State laws in the past decade to aid nonpublic schools probably resulted from the almost spectacular decline since 1965 in enrollments in Roman Catholic schools. According to a study by USOE's National Center for Educational Statistics, these schools lost more than 19 percent of their enrollments in the ten-year

period ending in 1971. In 1972, the President's Panel on Nonpublic Education projected the cost to taxpayers for transfering all nonpublic school children to public schools would run into billions of dollars. The panel said that seven States would be called upon to absorb 70 percent of such transfer costs. These States were New York, Pennyslvania, Illinois, New Jersey, California, Ohio, and Michigan. All except Michigan have been the most active in passing legislation providing public aid to private schools.

Tax-credits legislation was passed in a number of States, and the White House presented a tax-credits plan to the House Ways and Means Committee on April 30, 1973. However, this plan was set aside when the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a New York tax-benefits law in June of the same year.

Another major event in the 1960's affecting nonpublic schools was passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent Federal laws relating to school busing. According to the study of the National Center for Educational Statistics, nonreligious affiliated school enrollment rose almost 91 percent and enrollments in otherthan-Catholic religious affiliated schools rose 47 percent during the same period that Catholic school enrollment declined. Indeed, in the Southeast region of the nation, nonpublic school enrollments rose almost 32 percent, the only region of the country, according to the study, that showed an increase.

State aid laws, court rulings, and Federal education laws have had considerable impact on State departments of education in their relations with private schools. Ten States have designated full-time coordinators or directors for nonpublic schools with functions ranging from approval of private schools (North Carolina, Maryland, and New Mexico) to the administration of State aid to private schools (New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey). California, Washington, Rhode Island, and Nebraska have designated full-time employees for matters relating to private schools. Almost every State department of education designated a liaison officer to work with USOE on communications relating to private school participation in Federal education laws.

In 1958, a handbook entitled The State and Nonpublic Schools, by Dr. Fred F. Beach and Dr. Robert F. Will, was published as part of a series of studies treating the States' responsibilities for the education of their citizens. In this volume, Bascomb Associates, Inc., of Silver Spring, Maryland, has updated the Beach and Will study, primarily by compiling, by State, direct quotations and summaries of constitutional and statutory citations, using a format similar to that of the 1958 publication.

Much of the historical treatment and the comprehensive analysis of Beach and Will are not repeated in this new publication but some of their work is quoted to bring the new material into proper

perspective. This publication centers more specifically on nonpublic elementary and secondary schools because so many State laws in recent years have involved these schools. The author has added a table to reflect various State laws that regulate in some manner the activities of nonpublic schools. A chapter has been added regarding the States' responsibilities to nonpublic school children and teachers under Federal education laws.

Dwight R. Crum, Director
Nonpublic Educational Services
Immediate Officer of the Commissioner
U.S. Office of Education

Chapter I. A BRIEF LOOK AT NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS IN AMERICA

Finally, nothing we have said can be construed to disparage the role of church-related elementary and secondary schools in our national life. Their contribution has been and is enormous. (Lemon-DiCenso Cases, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)]

One in 10 of the elementary and secondary school children in this Nation attends a nonpublic school. There are about 17,000 nonpublic schools at this level which enroll more than 5,000,000 students. Clearly these schools play an important role in American education, as do the private colleges and universities. At the birth of the Nation these schools and colleges were the major source of formal education and continued to be for many years. Although nonpublic schools now represent an alternative to the established system of public education, their contribution is still considered by many to be vital.

On April 14, 1972, the President's Panel on Nonpublic Education made its final report to the President summarizing its findings on the status of nonpublic education.1 Some observations about nonpublic schools made by the Panel follow:

At a news conference in October 1974, President Gerald Ford said in response to a question on aid to private schools:

... competition in education between private and public is good for the student. There is no reason why there should be a monopoly in education just on the public side. And private education has contributed over a long period of time at the primary, secondary, and graduate levels significantly to a better educated America ....

We believe nonpublic schools, in their variety and diversity, offer important alternatives to state-run schools. It is conceivable that in years to come a larger degree of diversity will become characteristic of the public school system. But until public schools offer wider alteratives, it is not only legal but right that nonpublic options be available. Whether these nonpublic schools be rich or poor, traditional or experimental, boarding or day, church-related or not, they have been and are, and should continue to be important parts of the varied American educational scene.

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), in a study by Diane Gertler and Linda B. Barker, reported on enrollments and school characteristics of nonpublic schools for the 1970–1971 school year.2 They found that nonpublic school enrollments peaked in the mid-1960's and have continuously declined since then. The decline was almost solely attributed to the more than 19 percent drop in Roman Catholic school enrollment, since all other types of schools showed enrollment growth. Gertler and Barker found that New England public schools had to absorb a greater proportion of lost nonpublic school enrollment than the public schools of other regions. Only in the Southeast did public schools lose enrollment to nonpublic schools during the period of the study.

The Panel presented an entire chapter on the theme of nonpublic schools as a national asset. Among the items was a 1969 Gallup survey on how the public views nonpublic schools. A vast majority of the respondents believed nonpublic and parochial schools should be included along with public schools in the building of new cities.

Moreover, in one of its landmark decisions against government aid to nonpublic schools, the U.S. Supreme Court sought not to challenge the importance of these schools:

The Gertler and Barker study also found that Roman Catholic schools outnumber all other types of nonpublic schools combined. Lutheran schools were the next most numerous church-affiliated schools, followed by Seventh-Day Adventist schools. The relative number of church-related schools varies considerably among the regions of the country. Catholic schools outnumber any other single type of school in all regions, but their lowest representation is in the

1 Nonpublic Education and the Public Good, Final Report, The President's

Panel on Nonpublic Education (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1972).

2

Diane B. Gertler and Linda A. Barker, Statistics of Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1970–71, (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Publication No. (OE)74-11420, 1973).

Southeast. About 80 percent of nonpublic elementary and secondary school enrollment is Roman Catholic; just under 11 percent is other church-affiliated; and 9 percent is independent of church affiliation.

Table 1 (taken from the NCES study) shows enrollment and
percentage distribution of enrollments in nonpublic schools by
affiliation, region, and State.

Table 1.-Enrollment in nonpublic schools and percentage distribution of enrollment, by affiliation and by region and State: United States, 1970–71

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

SOURCE: Diane B. Gertler and Linda A. Barker, Statistics of Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1970–71, (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare,
Office of Education, Publication No. (OE) 74-114200, 1973).

« ForrigeFortsett »