Alliance for the Separation of School & State
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The Education Liberator, Vol. 2, No. 7, August/September 1996

Blacktop pedgogy:
Lessons learned on the road

by Marshall Fritz

Five key lessons struck me from two recent trips on behalf of the Separation Alliance:

  1. We need to figure out how to use the S-word (socialism) with "public school" educators so they know we're not rabble-rousing, but using the term accurately.

  2. We learned how to deliver the history lesson of the 1840s without gratuitously aggravating Protestants.

  3. We need to figure out whether Catholic theology supports separation of school and state in principle for all nations, or only pluralistic nations for prudential reasons (e.g., subsidiarity).

  4. We need to write guidelines documents for boothing and "advance work" so volunteers and I can stop making old mistakes and get on with making new ones.

  5. We need to know how to bring less stuff on trips and still feel prepared.

Trip 1: June 30-July 6, 1996

Detroit, Ann Arbor: Stayed with retired Jesuit priest Francis Rabaut. Had productive visits with builder Sheldon Rose, Clonlara school owners Pat and Jim Montgomory, and Gordon Leipold, education director for Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. A special treat was visiting another Jesuit, Fr. John A. Hardon, spiritual godfather to the Catholic home education movement. (He has since endorsed Separation and agreed to speak at SepCon'96!)

Toledo: Rachel and Leroy Lloyd put on my speech at Univ. of Toledo, including getting excellent responders: a UT prof. of education, and the editor of the local AFT teacher's union newsletter. From the ed. prof's perspective, I was exaggerating by calling "public schools" socialist. I've got to learn how to deliver the truth so people now blinkered by the system will understand I am not using hyperbole.

Cleveland: Productive meeting with Reason Foundation board member Bernie Baltic and local high school teacher Paul Springstubb, then helpful visit to several folks at the Plain Dealer. Over 80 percent of journalists I've met seem sympathetic in their search to understand whether Separation would work and is possible.

Erie: Discussed with Bob Chitester, producer of Milton Freidman's Free to Choose TV series, the merit of a one-hour Ken Burns-like presentation of the 1840-1890 takeover of schools by state and local governments. We agreed its prime value would be its use in thousands of homes as the lynchpin of a discussion evening.

Falconer, NY: Susanne and Jim Steeg, and Jacob Lapp and familiy, hosted an Intro Evening just down the road from Chautaqua. I'm hopeful we'll soon have a "Charging Chautaqua" Chapter.

Grove City, Pa.: Exciting discussion with Pam and Andy Hoffecker. She is one of hundreds of kitchen table edu-researchers that I wish mainstream educators could meet in a friendly forum. He is prof. of religious history at Grove City College.

Somerset, Pa.: Met with Peg and Jim Luksik. Peg is the penultimate edu-research "mom," and has been instrumental in defeating Outcome Based Education. I owe her a great debt, because when asked on a radio program by a high profile educator, "At least you would agree that all high school graduates should know that democracy is better than totalitarianism," she responded, "To require them to believe this IS totalitarianism!" Peg will be a panelist at SepCon'96.

Wash. D.C.: Spoke at Libt. Party national convention on "Why Tax-funded Vouchers are Harmful to Education and Freedom." It went well, and the tape is available for $8 from us. Also, ran a booth at the convention.

A major treat, yet disappointment, was interviewing Rich Bingham of South Carolina for our Development Associate post. While he has immense personal qualities, we decided that a move to Fresno was not in the near future.

Squoze in a visit with Fr. James Schall, S.J., contributor to First Things magazine. With a single read of the Proclamation he suggested we change the word "values" to "virtues." Years ago, Protestant author D. Bruce Lockerbie had made the same suggestion, but Fr. Schall made the point stick.

Also visited Arturo Silva at Project 21 for help in finding Separationists in the African-American community, lunched with Patrick Fagan of Heritage Foundation (he'll also be a SepCon'96 panelist!), and had an insight provoking meeting with Jennifer A. Marshall at Family Research Council. Attended a chapter meeting in Baltimore hosted by the Gaztanaga, had a challenging meeting with Bro. Theodore Drahmann of the Christian Brothers, and met with Nobel Laureate James Buchanan. Then met with Catholic theologian Kevin Long who peppered me with tough questions. For a man who is "with us," he sure does beat me up some.

Trip 2: July 13-16

San Diego: After two days of family visits, it was off to work: Met with Jim Akin at Catholic Answers to try to get answers to some of the questions. Made progress. Then met with Bob McClellan, car dealer, who signed the Proclamation (after we butted heads on everything except the goal, Separation). John, David and Stanley Graham sponsored a chapter recruiting meeting in the home of Philip Zobrichs.

Next day met with Herb Klein at San Diego Union Tribune, then spoke to Rotary Club of La Jolla. Of 90 attending, 8 signed the Proclamation, including a retired Brig. General and a 32 year public school teacher. Then a great meeting with San Diego kitchen table edu-researchers Kate Dennis and Leigh Hughes.

Many thanks: Drivers Mike Devour, Michigan; Aaron O'Brien, Ohio; Jacob Lapp, New York; Mike Vardoulis and Rand Kuhl, Calif.; and B & B hosts Fr. Rabaut, Jim & Pat Montgomery, Mich.; Rachel & Leroy Lloyd, Ohio; Jacob Lapp clan, NY; Jim & Judy Warner and Lorenzo & Susan Gaztanaga Maryland; Doug & Leni Dewey, Va.; Mildred Conley and Rand & Pat Kuhl, Calif.

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