ERIC Number: ED183447
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Moral Education and Public Schools: Evolution in 19th Century Wisconsin.
Hunt, Thomas C.
As evidenced by official documents of state superintendents, Protestantism and Bible-reading ceased to comprise the foundation for moral education in the public schools of Wisconsin by 1890. Although the 1848 Wisconsin Constitution mandated against sectarian instruction in public schools, the "Annual Reports" and "Decision Appeals" from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction contended that the Bible, the tangible symbol of mainstream Protestantism, was utilized for religious/moral education and was not considered sectarian instruction. The controversy over the place of religious/moral instruction in the schools became heated as people of other faiths entered the state in greater numbers, specifically German-Americans who were either Lutheran or Roman Catholic. In 1858 the school board of Watertown banned the Bible from public school classrooms. In 1860, when Roman Catholics reported the largest increase in communicants in the last decade, the opposition to protestant practice in the public schools grew. The state superintendent, however, defended Christianity in the schools and his assistant ruled in four cases that Bible-reading could not be termed sectarian instruction. By 1870 Methodists asserted that the common school was the offspring of the Bible and identified the assailants as Catholics and atheists. Finally, in 1886 the State Supreme Court ruled that Bible-reading in schools was sectarian instruction and violated the Wisconsin Constitution. By 1890, interests in public education had turned from religion to fostering good citizenship. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 7-11, 1980)