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THE FEDERAL CONTROL OF STATE AID 

A reproduction of an article appearing originally in The Houston Post of March 31, 1966 recently came to my desk. It is one of a series of articles discussing the question of federal aid and federal control. It vividly describes how federal and state aid to public schools has been followed by rigid controls from which there is no escape. 

The article discusses what has happened in the Aldine school district, one of 22 school districts within a county. This particular school district has 15,500 students, is receiving $3.4 million from the state while raising $1.4 million in local taxes.

For this $3.4 million what does the state control? 

Here is a partial list: 

It tells Aldine how many college credit hours its teachers must have. It dictates the number of hours in the particular field a teacher instructs. It says how many and what kind of hours the librarian must have. It tells the district how many students a teacher can teach…. 

An auditor can walk into the Aldine Administration Building any day and audit the record of any or all teachers. 

It can do the same on students. Districts must keep accurate attendance records for one of three state sources of aid is based upon average daily attendance. 

In the field of transportation the state does this: 

It will not allow Aldine to buy its own buses. They have to be ordered through the State Board of Control. The district can specify the size of the bus, hut not the manufacturer. 

Then the state tells the district where it may pick up students — none within two miles of the school they are to attend if the district wants to get paid. 

It says how many students can ride a bus. 

It individually approves each and every bus route. 

It can have an auditor walk in, demand the map of bus routes and go out and drive over them to see if district transportation reports are true. 

The state says how many teachers of which it will pay the minimum state required salaries. It says how many principals a district may have, and how many assistant principals, counselors etc. 

The state pays salaries for specific positions, and if a person is used for something else the salary can be eliminated. 

The state, to a degree, picks the books Aldine can use. 

Its textbook committee reviews texts from all over the country, decides on five and then submits these five to Aldine for its textbook committee to pick from. The district can pick one book in each subject, or a combination of one or more (as long as the number in combination equals what a single selection would have.) 

The state grants or withholds accreditation from a district like Aldine. It can suspend this accreditation, or threaten to, if a serious effort is not made to, meet standards it has set up. 

The Texas Education Agency — the state’s public school district regulatory and financial agent — sets up course requirements. It specifies just how many minutes a day or week a student must spend in such things as health, science, history and American government. 

There is a minimum standard set up for buildings, libraries, teaching supplies and other things.

The superintendent of this district is quoted as saying:

School districts today are not the same as they were fifteen years ago and I suspect that they are not what they will be 10 years from now. 

State control goes into every area of a school district. It includes the whole ball of wax.

The article goes on to say

(The school district superintendent) is not critical of the state controls although he says the massive volume of record keeping and red tape gets irritating at times. The state’s objective, however limiting it is towards local control, is to increase educational standards…. The state, in general, tries to help districts do things they would do for themselves if they had had the money.. . . Because of this, most school administrators take an understanding viewpoint of the situation.

Those who dream of state aid to Christian schools without the clutching fingers of state control are engaging in wishful thinking. This article too clearly demonstrates what happens when money comes to a school from the state or federal government. 

If it be objected that this article speaks of a public school system, then let it be remembered that even the public school districts were once independent organizations. Besides, many school districts long resisted the enticements of state aid, but have only recently succumbed to these allurements. What has happened in these public schools can and will happen to the Christian schools which are tempted to accept government largesse. 

A note of warning is therefore in order. It may become increasingly difficult to support our own schools. It may be unjust to be forced to pay local taxes to support the public school systems as well as to support our own schools. But we shall have to do it or lose our schools. 

ECUMENICAL NEWS ITEMS 

Since ecumenism is so much in the headlines of the ecclesiastical press these days, a month’s reading of various religious periodicals produces an abundance of notes on ecumenical progress. We offer the following as a sampling of what a single month has brought. It is illustrative of how rapidly the tides of ecumenism are moving and into what areas they are penetrating. 

-Another denomination has joined the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) which already embraces nine denominations: The United Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The Presbyterian Church U.S. (which is engaged in its own merger talks with the Reformed Church of America), the Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ. This denomination is the 500,000-member Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. 

-This denomination is itself holding merger talks with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. 

-The National Council of Churches reveals again that it has become an instrument for the distribution of government funds. In the recent reports of funds being channeled through various organizations by the Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA, the government’s spying bureau) it is revealed that the National Council of Churches also received funds from the CIA, although the amounts were small. 

-While for many years the Masonic Lodge and the Knights of Columbus were the bitterest of enemies, leaders from both recently met and joined in a “cooperative pledge” in which they expressed agreement on basic beliefs in the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God; and in which they agreed to labor together for social and moral reform. The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic Lodge and the extent of the bitterness between them is evident from the fact that membership in the Masonic Lodge by a Roman Catholic means excommunication from the church. But it is now hoped that Canon Law will be changed so that the two lodges will be able to work more closely together; and perhaps even merge. 

-The National Council of Churches continues to meddle in political affairs; this time passing a resolution which urges the government to change its draft laws so that anyone conscientiously opposing a particular war for any reason be exempt from the draft. This is only one policy statement which the NCC has made advising the government of its opinion on the Viet Nam War. 

-A professor of New Testament Exegetical theology at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, has accepted an appointment for one year to teach at the Jesuitoperated University of San Francisco. This exchange of professors in church-operated colleges, universities and seminaries is becoming increasingly common. 

-In 1965 the Roman Catholic Church agreed to a proposal from the World Council of Churches to set up a “Joint Working Group” which would discuss the possibilities of dialogue and collaboration between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church. The committee has issued its first report and listed the main areas of possible cooperation between these two organizations. It has also proposed a “Joint Theological Commission” to study various problems now dividing Protestants and Roman Catholics. 

-Interreligious services are becoming increasingly popular. Rev. H. C. Hoeksema reported in the editorial column of our paper an interreligious service held in Grand Rapids at which Dr. John Kromminga of Calvin Seminary participated. These services are being held throughout the country and the world embracing every denomination. 

-From the RES Newsletter we quote the following

Reformed and Presbyterian Churches are sitting at over 30 church union conference tables with more than 90 partners in the quest for unity. The figure includes only formal union negotiations between Churches; it omits discussions like those between Lutheran and Reformed theologians in North America and Europe. 

The church union movement is most active in Africa, where Reformed and Presbyterian Churches are involved in nine separate sets of negotiations. Europe is second with eight, six of which. are in the British Isles. On the continent, talks are going on only between Reformed and Lutheran Churches in France, and in the framework of the Netherlands Ecumenical Council. WARC member Churches are in five negotiations in North America, four in Asia, three in Australasia, and one in Latin America. 

Anglicans, Methodists, Congregationalists and other Reformed bodies appear most frequently as partners in union talks with Reformed Churches…. 

Four intra-Reformed unions are contemplated: Presbyterian Church U.S. and Reformed Church in America; Cumberland Presbyterian Church and Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church (USA); Presbyterian Church in West Cameroon, Eglise evangelique du Cameroun and Eglise Presbyterienne camerounaise; Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, Tsonga Presbyterian Church, and Bantu Presbyterian Church (South Africa). The three South African Churches are also in talks with Anglicans, however, and the Presbyterian Church U.S. this year joined the COCU talks….

And so it goes on. This is one month’s news. You can readily imagine how rapidly the church world is moving towards union — towards the realization of its dream to place all denominations (and all religions) under one ecclesiastical roof.