MARCH 20, 1951
NEW YORK, Monday—I have just been sent a reprint of an article by Robert C. Hartnett, S.J., published in "America," the national Catholic weekly review. It is an answer evidently to an article by Gordon C. Lee, published in the National Education Association Journal for January, 1951.
I did not see Mr. Lee's article as I do not ordinarily see the NEA Journal, but the reprint before me quotes from it and claims that in many cases the statements are incorrect. As I read this article by Father Hartnett I should judge that some of his statements are probably incorrect, too.
The argument of the "America" article, however, is summed up apparently in this plea: "This policy of penalizing them (Catholic schools) for exercising their educational and religious freedom is quite unnecessary. In the Netherlands, for example, the state succeeds in having all its legitimate purposes achieved by treating denominational and state schools on a par as far as public support is concerned."
Would not this mean that all private schools should then be subsidized by the state and treated on a par?
Father Hartnett goes on to say, however, that he does not expect such treatment in the United States.
"Our state constitutions prohibit the use of public funds for sectarian education," he writes. "All we can claim, however, under our constitutional system is 'auxiliary services.' We claim them because they are constitutional, because they are no more than just and because this is the root of our controversy with the NEA. They symbolize our contention that parochial schools are an 'integral part of the American educational endeavor."'
This also would seem to me to mean, however, that all private schools had a right to the same "auxiliary services." I wonder whether Father Hartnett would agree to taking most of these services out of the school systems.
It seems to me that health services, if properly administered, should not be in the schools at all. They should be under Public Health. They should begin with prenatal care and continue all the years of a child's growth. Also, it seems evident that real health examinations and care can be given only in a hospital. Where no hospitals are available, regional clinics where a variety of medical skills and equipment are available, should be set up. This seems to me every child's right.
Secondly, transportation is something that should come out of the regular tax budget in either a rural or an urban community. If children are to be transported to and from school they should be transported from the safety point of view by the community. And this should include all children.
In the case of school lunches, these usually are provided by the PTA's or an outside welfare organization with the help of surplus foods from the Department of Agriculture. It seems to me this provision is a welfare activity and not a school activity. Where a lunch system is organized within the school on a cafeteria basis, it is usually paid for by the children. If some children need help it should be provided on a welfare basis and not as a school activity.
Free books, on the other hand, are a school activity and should not be given to any but public schools.
If this program were followed the whole argument of "auxiliary services" could perhaps be solved. This tension between what should be given to public schools or any other schools could be removed from our midst.