ERIC Number: ED288451
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Apr-29
Choice: The Historical Perspective.
Wagoner, Jennings L., Jr.
The issue of choice in U.S. education is traced historically. Consideration is given to the purposes of publicly supported education and reasons underlying the historic distinction between public and private education. It is suggested that the issue of choice concerns the rights and obligations of the individual and the state. The relationship between Jefferson's Enlightenment faith in natural religion, natural law, and government by majority rule is briefly considered. Jefferson supported the coexistence of public and private schools; however, public support was restricted to schools that were public in philosophy and governance. It is proposed that throughout much of the nation's history public schools have perpetuated what amounted to an established republican-Protestant civil religion. The view of Horace Mann and other reformers was that public education should be civic, moral, and nonsectarian, but nonsectarian in practice meant nondenominational Protestantism. Supreme Court decisions that have expressed support for religious and political diversity in relation to the established school system are identified, and current criticisms of public education are briefly considered. (SW)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Conference on Choice in Education (Charlottesville, VA, April 29, 1986).