THE THAW WAS BEGINNING and with it the germination of a new movement in New England for separation of school and state. On March 22, 24 people from five New England states came to New Hampshire to hear Marshall Fritz sound the call to start state chapters of the Separation Alliance, and to get down to the business of making Separation happen.
Organizers Bill Zebuhr and I put the event together after learning that Marshall was travelling in the East, and Marshall agreed to squeeze in a visit and address New Hampshire Separationists. Since New England is rather compact, we decided to invite everyone in the region who had expressed an interest in being active in the Separation movement. The Ram in the Thicket Inn in Milford served as a comfortable, friendly setting for the event.
Marshall reviewed the history of the establishment of tax-financed, government-controlled schools in place of privately-financed "public," yet independent, schools that had operated successfully for 200 years. One of the biggest reasons for creating these schools, he said, was the desire of the prevailing Protestant establishment to indoctrinate the masses of recent Irish (Catholic) immigrants, to make them "fit in." The Church's reaction was to establish their own parochial system, so the country ended up with two parallel religious school systems--until 1962, that is, when the Supreme Court banned prayer in schools.
The Christian Right has announced new campaigns to re-establish prayer in school, but as Marshall pointed out, "That would be like stealing into the fort at night, and changing the flag. It won't last. Christians who want to teach their values will be better off taking the initiative to find a school that teaches those values, or homeschooling. That's what you can do today that works today. And, of course, the same is true for those wishing to raise their children with an epistemology based on human reason.
"Do you reasonably believe you can change the public school system over before your kids graduate?" he asked. "The basis of our new 'Family Responsibility Strategy' is that it can be effective for you right now. When we get one-third of the kids in America out of the government-run schools, you can bet there'll be a fury of demands for tax-relief."
The most important outcome of our meeting is the formation of active groups of volunteers to work toward spreading the message of Separation. A New Hampshire state organizational meeting has been scheduled, and anyone who lives here and would like to become involved may call me at 603-889-5455 for further details.
I've always felt that we need to attack our problems at the root, and the root seems to be with the educational system. I think that the Alliance's Family Responsibility Strategy will bring the quickest results, because it will involve and gratify those parents who start taking responsibility for their kids' education.