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 Colleges 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 at all times been to encourage lodges to plan a program publicly supporting Public Colleges in a approach that reveals for all to see the depth of Freemasonry’s dedication.

Till 2011, every constituent lodge was typically left to resolve for itself what to do with out the good thing about additionally embracing a statewide Masonic venture during which it may turn out to be concerned. That effort has been a reasonably haphazard implementation of a sequence of various actions by completely different lodges working independently of one another. The packages ranged from elaborate and energetic interplay with chosen Public Colleges to nothing in any respect.

There are a lot of numerous explanation why sure lodges have finished little or nothing. In some lodges the members haven’t been notably energetic outdoors 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 assets have been insufficient to do far more than battle to assist 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 best way to implementing a statewide Masonic dedication to the state’s public colleges. Though it was his management that offered the vitality for implementing the packages, the plan got here from peculiar 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 employees delivered to each member of a constituent lodge. Woven into the material of that plan was the overwhelmingly hottest response: Masonry ought to turn out to be a drive for profoundly invigorating our Public Colleges. Masons up and down the state concluded that it was essential to save lots of public training, make it higher than ever earlier than, and show to our communities that Masons consider {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 assist of public colleges, it’s instructive to first find out how and why public colleges got here to dominate America’s academic system. A substantial amount of credit score for that goes to Horace Mann – the “Father of the Widespread Faculty Motion” – who additionally occurred to be a Mason. It will be a mistake, nonetheless, to conclude that Mann’s dedication to the general public faculty trigger was as a consequence of his being a Mason. It will even be a mistake to deduce that Freemasonry helps Public Colleges 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.

At the moment, Public Colleges are the first supply for educating our kids from kindergarten by way of highschool. That was not at all times so, for from the start of this nation till the current day advancing the reason for Public Faculty 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 have been home-schooled. If their mother and father have been rich sufficient others have been taught by non-public tutors. Nevertheless, quickly after the American Revolution was concluded, Thomas Jefferson initiated a nationwide dialogue that gained such great momentum that Public Colleges finally grew to become the norm reasonably than the exception.

Jefferson argued {that a} free and impartial society could be stronger if all of its residents obtained equal entry to data – data which every may then apply of their every day lives. On the finish of the Revolution the nation discovered itself with none academic system and the individuals have been left to fend for themselves. To treatment the matter, Jefferson – who at numerous occasions argued with equal vigor for small and huge authorities – recommended that tax {dollars} be used to fund a nationwide schede didattiche sostegno system. His suggestion was ignored on the time and his concept languished for practically a century.

By the 1840’s a number of Public Colleges had popped up across the nation financially supported by communities that might 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 instructed 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 yr and by 1918 all American kids have been required to a minimum of attend elementary faculty. What adopted was the nothing lower than the profitable pursuit of one thing shared in widespread 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 have been segregated. In 1896, in a case entitled Plessy v. Ferguson, the USA Supreme Court docket dominated that segregation was authorized – a call that will be overturned a long time later within the 1954 Supreme Court docket resolution in Brown v. The Board of Schooling of Topeka Kansas. What was at challenge in 1954 and determined as soon as and forever was the best that every one males are created equal beneath the eyes of the Supreme Architect of the Universe – a minimum of on the subject of 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 yr ahead all Public Colleges 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 assist of Public Colleges. It’s neither ironic nor wholly stunning that the primary time the Historic & Accepted Scottish Ceremony for the Southern Jurisdiction of the USA, whose see is at Charleston, North Carolina, ventured out into the world of neighborhood service was to additional the reason for Public Colleges. 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 Colleges in such publications as The New Age – a predecessor to immediately’s Scottish Ceremony Journal. His makes an attempt, made earlier than the onset of World Warfare I, have been effectively obtained in every single place – together with in New York which was prompted by males corresponding to Moore, in addition to organizations such because the Scottish Ceremony to move 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 grew to become identified all through America as the nice promoter of nationwide literacy by way of the auspices of Public Colleges.

California Masons have been no much less energetic of their assist of Public Colleges. In 1920 Charles A. Adams, Grand Grasp of Masons in California made Public Colleges a Masonic venture for the primary time. The calls for for manpower made upon the populace by World Warfare I led to the flight of 1000’s of lecturers from their lecture rooms. Extra essential 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 conflict materiel. Grand Grasp Adams witnessed the accompanying fallout with nice alarm. Roughly 600 colleges have been closed all through California – a rare quantity for that point.

Though Freemasonry has constantly kept away from partaking in or taking sides on the earth of public politics, Grand Grasp Adams prudently weighed the benefits and downsides of doing so on behalf of Public Colleges. At its core, Masonry had at all times inculcated in its members the significance of pursuing data. Its ritual sought to impress upon candidates for Masonic levels the significance of learning the liberal arts and sciences, corresponding to grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. And the very concept in regards to the institution of Public Colleges all through the nation seemingly originated with our first President – and one in every of Freemasonry’s most distinguished members. In a letter to his Vice President, John Adams, George Washington wrote:

“Smart and considered 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 data, piety, and benevolence; and at last 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 Colleges so emphatically that he’s identified immediately because the “Father of New York Public Colleges.” Whereas serving as Grand Grasp of Masons in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin overtly endorsed the adoption of Public Colleges in that state.

With that historical past and precedent to assist him, Grand Grasp Adams decided that California Masons ought to take a public stance in assist of strengthening the Public Colleges 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 data: equal entry to data promotes freedom and strengthens the center class with out which democratic ideas basic to this Republic will wither away and finally disappear. On these grounds it was simple for Grand Grasp Adams on August 30, 1920 to challenge the primary Masonic Public Colleges Week Proclamation.

The historical past of Masonry’s assist of Public Colleges didn’t finish there. That assist 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 essentially the most vital 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 Colleges.

A lay-preacher and former president of the Southern Baptist Conference, Hays additionally took a stand towards lots 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 legislation of the land – Brown v. The Board of Schooling of Topeka, Kansas – and thereby endlessly linked all of America and Freemasonry to a dedication to a free public training for all individuals.

In 1985 when Fred Kleinknecht was elected to function Grand Commander of the Scottish Ceremony, Public Colleges have been beneath assault by numerous spiritual organizations bent upon wresting management of training from the arms of a secular public. Two Masonic values have been beneath assault: the liberty of faith and the precise of all individuals 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 approach to forestall the tyranny of theocratic doctrine. Grand Commander Kleinknecht would endlessly be dogged throughout his tenure by spiritual fundamentalists who finally turned their ire immediately towards Masonry – an ire that to this present day has not solely 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 Colleges whereas serving as Grand Commander. To these fervently urgent for inclusion of prayer in Public Colleges, Clausen’s stance was considered as emblematic of all that’s incorrect with Masonry. The consequence 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 Colleges has additionally elevated and poses a risk to a bedrock of human freedom.

At the moment our Public Colleges are operated on the state degree by departments of training, and domestically by faculty districts, in addition to publicly elected or appointed officers. By one estimate there are roughly 15,000 such faculty districts working all through the nation. Most are supervised and run by particular person counties. As a result of there may be little federal oversight, curricula differs from state to state – a proven fact that has prompted some to opine that better 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 faculty are maybe a very powerful challenge for Masons to focus upon, it’s equally essential to grasp why some outspoken critics of Public Colleges blame poor efficiency upon the system and its lecturers, however give little credit score to both when college students carry out effectively. The maxim “comply with the cash” is especially related.

First, Public Colleges 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 Colleges. Though some monies circulate into the system from mother and father, non-public 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 legislation can endlessly be debated, one reality about Public Colleges is past debate: for the reason that 1960’s when California colleges have been extremely ranked among the many nation’s Public Colleges, there was a gradual decline since The Individuals’s Initiative was made legislation. At the moment the state’s Public Faculty college students now rank forty eighth out of fifty states in lots of surveys about scholar achievement.

For Masonry the problem is just not about endorsing or opposing greater taxes, and even to undertake a place in that emotionally-charged debate. Reasonably, the problem is to completely comprehend the forces at work for and towards Public Colleges. Our dialogue is just not about whether or not to assist Public Colleges – it’s about how greatest Masonry can achieve this. Consequently it’s important for Masons to have interaction in a dispassionate dialogue about Public Colleges with out getting drawn into the politics that by no means appear far-off. Maybe the discussion board our Craft gives, devoid of political ambition, is the most effective 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 Faculty websites supposed to speak clearly and really publicly that Masonry intends to work for the development of Public Colleges. It intends to take action as a result of a productive, educated center class is key to the perpetuation of a free society. Enlightened individuals won’t simply relinquish the freedoms first established by the Founding Fathers.

There may be essential work remaining to be finished 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 faculty advisory councils drawing upon the abilities and assets of Masons inside their geographical boundaries consisting of a mixture of age teams to debate and resolve upon methods to implement the Grand Lodge’s strategic plan maintain out a lot promise for achievement. Masonry is at its greatest when it coordinates its lodges right into a drive for good. The advisory councils may be such a drive.

Equally essential, public faculty 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 varied 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 assist of Public Colleges affords the Craft a beautiful, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime probability to place Masons to work to implement Masonic values devoted to the hope that freedom will at all times prevail and that the pursuit of data will endlessly be obtainable to the wealthy and the poor, the excessive and the low – to all no matter station in life.

John Heisner is the creator of a number of masonic books about Masons and Freemasonry [http://masonicbooks.heisner.info/why-does-freemasonry-support-public-schools/]. He has been a Grasp Mason since 1968; served as Chaplain, Senior Deacon, Junior Warden, Senior Warden and Worshipful Grasp of Amity Lodge No. 442 in San Diego, California, and serves presently as an Inspector for Division IX of the Grand Lodge of California. He has written two Masonic Symbolism Books [http://masonicbooks.heisner.info/why-does-freemasonry-support-public-schools/]; is a member of Scottish Ceremony Freemasonry in San Diego, the place he at the moment serves as an officer within the Lodge of Perfection and has thrice been awarded the Albert Pike trophy for excellence within the efficiency of Scottish Ceremony ritual; a member of Al Bahr Shrine since 1976; a member of the York Ceremony Our bodies, Knights Templar, Allied Masonic Levels, York Ceremony Faculty and the Knights of the Purple Cross of Constantine. Mr. Heisner can also be a member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitibus Foederatis.

Mr. Heisner has additionally been a practising lawyer within the State of California since 1973 and is at the moment a associate and trial specialist in a San Diego legislation agency the place he emphasizes advanced enterprise litigation, commerce secret litigation, actual property and probate litigation. He previously served as an Assistant District Legal professional, Deputy District Legal professional and Particular Assistant United States Legal professional. As a prison prosecutor, Mr. Heisner investigated and prosecuted organized crime, public official corruption and main fraud issues.

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