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Virtually every other proposal for state money to aid non-public, Churchrelated schools has been ruled unconstitutional. The present proposal has and no doubt will be cruelly exploited by politicians attempting to win votes from those who win benefits from this tax-relief. But all the while, these same politicians are raising false hopes for both parents, and school officials who so actively support these proposals. In an election year, it is so easy to promise what in fact the Supreme Court might well forbid. Seven members of President Nixon's Commission on School Finance specifically refused to “raise false hopes" regarding the possibility of tax credits or deduction for parents with dependents in Chuch-related schools. In their Report to Mr. Nixon last March, they concluded : “The Commission, after considering the best advice by lawyers it could get, could not find any proposal for a substantive form of assistance to nonpublic schools which appeared both practical and a probable winner of judicial challenge.”
Summary of Statement.-As a Jesuit educator, I believe Catholic education has been a positive force in America and should be retained. Nevertheless, the Constitutional prohibition against state aid to benefit religious purposes prompts me to conclude that any form of tax credits or deductions is unconstitutional. Religious education primarily advances religion, and the state can have no part in aiding that advancement. Therefore, I oppose the proposals before the Committee on Ways and Means regarding tax relief for parents with dependents in Church-related schools on the primary and secondary levels.
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS,
Rock Island, III., August 31, 1972. Hon. WILBUR D. Mills, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C. MY DEAR MR. Mills: The National PTA, representing approximately nine million members, wishes to express to you and the committee our deep concern about, and firm opposition to aid to primary and secondary education in the form of tax credits and/or deductions.
The Legislative Program of the National PTA has for many years stipulated that “Federal funds for the education of children and youth should be used only by public boards and departments". Therefore, we have consistently opposed any legislation that would channel money into non-public schools. We believe the proposed legislation allowing parents tax credits for tuition to non-public schools is an indirect aid to the non-public schools. For the same reasons, we have opposed the use of vouchers in the schools.
The National PTA has always been committed to equal opportunity and quality education for all children. We believe this must be made possible through the public schools. At a time when the need for large amounts of federal funds is so clear, it appears to be most unwise to divert needed revenue at the federal level into non-public schools. A dual system is more expensive to operate. Historically, the public schools have suffered when public monies have gone to private schools. The right of the non-public school to be selective of its students often leaves the poor, the black, as well as the children with special needs, to the public schools. Also, as more parents are encouraged to send their children to non-public schools, the general public becomes less willing to adequately support the public schools.
The National PTA urges you and the members of the committee not to support this legislation providing tax credits for parents paying tuition for students in non-public schools, but rather work for legislation which would augment and strengthen the public schools. Thank you for hearing our views. Yours very truly,
CAROL K. KIMMEL.
STATEMENT OF THE UNITED PARENTS ASSOCIATIONS OF NEW YORK CITY
The United Parents Association of New York City is a federation of parent and parent-teacher associations in over 500 public schools with a half million parents of every race, religion and background, living in every corner of the city working together for public education.
Our membership is deeply concerned with the quality of education our children receive and has worked diligently to strengthen and expand free public education.
We are also concerned about retaining and protecting those portions of our constitution which go to the heart of our fundamental rights. Of particular concern is the maintenance of the separation of Church and State.
The United Parents Associations opposed to proposals for Federal tax credits for nonpublic school parents. This is a thinly disguised plan to aid religiously affiliated schools since 95% of all nonpublic schools are controlled by religious bodies. The threat of parochial schools closing their doors is being used to force greater government aid for these institutions. We recognize that private and parochial schools have a unique contribution to make to our society, provided that they are fully supported by the private sector. As ominous as the threat that parochial schools will close their doors and inundate the public schools may seem, we do not consider this a threat. If more parents want to take advantage of the availability of public education, the increase in enrollment of the public schools would then reflect the diversity of population which public education was intended to serve. Moreover, in terms of tax dollars, it is less expensive to support one school system than several systems. However, if parents want the selective and special interest kind of education that parochial schools offer, they must be prepared to support them. If we are to support the non-religious education of students now attending nonpublic schools, then let us support them in the public institutions which are open to all, regardless of race, religion or economic status and do not violate the religious conscience of any of our citizens.
The United Parents Associations is not opposed to private and religious education. We support the right of parents to select the kind of education they desire for their children. We are concerned with who pays for this private educational system. We firmly believe that public monies should only be spent on public education. The campaign to divert limited available public funds to nonpublic schools comes when the public schools face increased costs and increased needs. The crisis in our public schools must be met by adequate funds to support them. The shortage of funds for public education is well known. Money proposed for private education must be deducted from something else. Will that be programs for the disadvantaged, will that be the diversion of public funds away from the public schools?
In support of aid to parochial schools it is frequently argued that these provide a public service in educating children in the secular subjects, math, science, social studies, languages, etc. However, the religious denominations which maintain separate schools have always argued that sectarian education is a total experience, that every subject must be permeated by the doctrines of that particular religion. If this philosophy did not or does not prevail, if it is possible to separate the secular from the religious mission of the parochial school, then there is no rationale for maintaining separate day schools and all children could attend public schools for their basic education and the church or synagogue school for religious instruction after regular school hours, which is what most public school children do.
Another argument--that the taxpayer and the public school system are spared the cost of educating the hundreds of thousands of youngsters in parochial schools—is specious in view of the attempts being made to get a larger and larger proportion of the tax dollar for maintaining those schools. If this trend is not checked and reversed, the public will in fact bear the same expense of educating these children, but in separate, religiously dominated schools. If they are to be educated at public expense they should be in public schools and we would welcome them.
The public schools have made it possible for youngsters of diverse national origin, religion, ethnic backgrounds, social and economic levels to go to the same schools and as children, live and learn together, to respect each other and all religions. Our experience also has shown that children tend to divide along the lines of the school they attend, and it is the growing up apart which causes conflict later. A fragmented educational system produces a fragmented society.
We are today witnessing one of the most tragic ironies in our entire history. Since the Supreme Court decision of 1954 which ruled that separate but equal education was illegal and damaging to the black child and to democracy, every effort at desegregation in the public schools has been accompanied by a growth in the nonpublic schools. Without ascribing intent on their part because we think many church leaders are deeply concerned about this, the fact is that they have provided refuge for whites fleeing integration.
This, combined with the flight of the middle classes to the suburbs, has resulted in more and more segregated and ghettoized urban public schools and the social dynamite which is exploding across this nation.
If the schoolhouse becomes the conduit for public tax monies to the church or synagogue there will be a vast proliferation of parochial schools of every denomination competing for these funds. There are over 200 religious sects in this country. Would government make judgments about what is or is not a religion? Would government begin to ask questions about those who want to teach controversial religious or perhaps anti-religious beliefs in publicly supported schools? And what of those who wish to teach bigotry or hatred of blacks, whites, Jews, Catholics, Indians, Chicanos, or any other groups? It is just because of the divisiveness of such issues that the Founding Fathers felt it wisest to keep the government out of private concerns and particularly religious concerns.
Parents of children in the public schools are becoming impatient and disillusioned by the ease with which commitments to public education are verbalized while the children are shortchanged. A massive input of Federal aid to public education, into the basic support of the public schools is long overdue.
As a charter member of PEARL (the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty) UPA supports the statement made by its vice-chairman Mrs. Florence Flast.
The public school parents in the United Parents Associations consider it a mandate to uphold, improve and defend only public education. It is almost too axiomatic a truth to reiterate that the public school system is the most important ingredient in education, working to weld together our diverse citizenry into an effective democracy.
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS R. SELTZ, PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA FEDERATION OF
CITIZENS FOR EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM, INC. I am Douglas R. Seltz, a Saint Paul attorney and President of the Minnesota Federation of Citizens for Educational Freedom, Inc. I am a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and have three children in nonpublic schools in Saint Paul. I am the Past President of the Saint Paul High School Association; member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota South District, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; member of the President's Council, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, and holder of the degrees of Bachelor of Laws and Doctor of Jurisprudence, Valparaiso University.
During all of my adult life I have been actively engaged in welfare and administration of nonpublic schools from elementary through higher education. Not as a paid staff member have I been involved, but as one who believes in high quality education, including instruction in religious principles because it is so important to the way of life of every child that he grow educationally and spiritually.
When I first became involved in nonpublic education parents and sponsoring groups somehow found it possible to provide such instruction. As years went by and inflation increased, I began to note that no matter how dedicated parents were, high costs were excluding them from the schools they admired. More and more schools were forced to maintain the status quo or limit enrollment or actually cut back on their programs. This seriously affected the quality of education. More importantly, I noted that parents who believed in nonpublic education were finding it impossible to start new schools, much less maintain them. Churches and individuals were going into deeper and deeper debt to maintain an educational system they deeply believed in. And so I began to realize that no matter how much people were dedicated, they simply could not continue for long in support of nonpublic education.
I became an active member of Citizens for Educational Freedom because I was convinced that only through state and federal legislation could the nonpublic schools be preserved.
CITIZENS FOR EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM (CEF)
Since its birth many years ago, CEF has rallied the support of countless thousands of parents, educators, clergy and students to the cause of preservation of the nonpublic school system. In Minnesota, CEF is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of that state. Most of its members are members of the Christian Reformed Church, Catholic Church and Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod. In many states CEF is unincorporated and operates as an unincorporated association of individuals dedicated to its purposes and objectives. National Citizens for Educational Freedom has offices in Washington, D.C.
In my state, CEF has been an influential force in obtaining enactment of Chapter 944, Laws of 1971, a statute allowing state income tax credits to parents with children in nonpublic schools. The Minnesota statute is the first of its kind in the United States. Early in July 1972, Ramsey County District Judge J. Jerome Plunkett held the law to be constitutional in all respects. Appeal to the state supreme court is now being prepared by the opponents of the tax credit law.
The statute and Judge Plunkett's opinion will be mentioned later in this statement.
WHY TAX CREDIT AID TO PARENTS ?
I refer the Committee to pages 12 to 16 in this statement where I quote briefly from statements made by Wendell R. Anderson (Dem.), Governor of Minnesota, Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States and The Task Force on Economic Growth and Opportunity, Chamber of Commerce of the United States (1966).
Governor Anderson's 1971–73 Budget provided $27 million for tax credits to parents of children in nonpublic schools.
On March 3, 1970, President Nixon told the Congress of the gravity of the situation. On several occasions since that date the President has made known his determination to preserve nonpublic education. I am informed that he supports the tax credit principle, probably as embodied in Chairman Mills' and Representative Ford's bill and others already introduced.
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and many others prominent in the Democratic and Republican parties have spoken fearlessly in favor of some kind of help to parents and the distraught nonpublic school system.
All citizens of good will affirm the high worth of education, public and nonpublic. Governmental generosity, local, state and federal, to promote excellence in education is far too obvious for doubt. Inflation has added dangerously to the cost of maintaining first-rate educational institutions. In the public sector, education tax increases are meeting heated resistance. Nonpublic school parents are paying increasing taxes to support the public schools and at the same moment are oppressed by rising maintenance costs in nonpublic schools. This double burden is becoming almost intolerable.
I am impelled to comment on certain principles accepted by the Minnesota Legislature in 1971 and by Governor Anderson when he signed the tax credit measure into law:
1. Nonpublic schools, private, independent and religiously oriented, have achieved an enviable reputation for their contribution to the "public service" education of millions of children over many generations.
2. It is now universally recognized that parents have the constitutional and first responsibility for the sound education of their children and that they have the basic right to choose the school and type of education they wish for their offspring
3. In some 400 Minnesota church-related schools children receive a splendid education in the same subjects taught in the state's excellent public schools and in addition receive instruction emphasizing spiritual values and sound religious faith. It is the right of a child to receive both forms of instruction that millions of parents now defend and promote.
4. Public and nonpublic schools throughout the nation have together, as partners, brought excellence to the educational process.
5. A nonpublic school's relative independence of state control stimulates diversity, innovation and experimentation in teaching methods. It provides a guard against a monolithic, monopolistic educational system. A pluralistic society demands competition, wholesome diversity and sound innovation.
6. In Minnesota we considered the maintenance costs, in both public and nonpublic schools. Nonpublic schools educate a child for approximately half the maintenance costs of the public system. Witnesses before the legislative tax committees estimated that the state's nonpublic schools saved taxpayers between $90 and $100 million each year. In our state, keeping nonpublic schools open made sound financial sense. While the economics of the problem impressed lawmakers, it was preservation of the dual system that probably interested them most.
7. Elementary and secondary education has a recognized public service, public welfare purpose. Nonpublic education contributes greatly to the achievement of that purpose. In 1971 we believed, and still believe, that if nonpublic schools remain open they will increasingly help the poor, disadvantaged and underprivileged child to obtain a first-rate education.
8. Many federal and state laws adopt and accept the principle of aid to students in institutions of higher education-public, private and church-oriented. Witness the G.I. Bill, scholarship grants in many states and so on. Hence, there is scant reason for denying reasonable aid to parent and child in nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.
I would not be here today to plead the cause of nonpublic education if my children received an inferior education in their Lutheran school; if the system caused divisiveness ; if it called for excessive entanglement of church with state; if segregation by race or color were promoted. Evidence relating to nonpublic schools in Minnesota negates any and all of these dangers. Yonpublic education was enjoyed by countless thousands for decades after the birth of our republic. Nonpublic education was the seed of our educational system before the compulsory education laws. It is still a comparable and effective system, and, to those who use it, a superior system. One need only look at uncounted thousands of men and women who are products of the nonpublic school system-business and professional leaders, educators, labor leaders, political figures and others, to see evidence of nonpublic education and its accomplishments.
TAX CREDITS AND THE MINNESOTA LITIGATION
Because the Minnesota statute is readily available to the staff of the Ways and Means Committee, I am not supplying copies today. A few observations may, however, be helpful.
In brief this is our new law:
1. The statute gives state income tax credits to parents of children in nonpublic kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools. Such a school is one other than a public school, situated in Minnesota, wherein a state resident may legally fulfill the state's compulso attendance laws, is not operated for profit, and adheres to the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
2. Maximum calendar year income tax credits are $50 for a kindergartener, $100 for an elementary child and $140 for a high schooler. No credit is allowed unless the parent or legal guardian actually paid tuition. In other words, if a parent of an elementary child paid tuition of $50 he could not claim a tax credit of more than $50. If a parent paid a tuition of $125 he could claim a tax credit of $100 only.
3. The Legislature assured that no tax credits would be allowed for school expenses in the teaching of religious doctrines or principles. This safeguard was accomplished by requiring that a school's maintenance costs be reduced by 20% before the tax credit formula to maintenance costs. The Legislature thought the 20% would be more than ample to eliminate religious instruction costs.
4. In no event may the tax credit exceed the percent of average state foundation aid to public elementary and secondary schools.
5. Especially attractive to the Legislature are the provisions sometimes called a “negative income tax”. If a parent owes the state no income tax, he gets a payment equal to his earned credit. If the parent owes the state less than the earned credit, he receives a 'state check for the difference.
6. The statute requires prescribed tax forms, including receipts for tuition payments, school maintenance cost forms, etc. The statute carries the customary provisions to guard against fraudulent returns and provides penalties for violations of the law.
Following enactment it was estimated that in Minnesota tax credits for the 1971-73 biennium might total $21 million or $10.55 million per year. It is now estimated that for calendar 1971 tax credits may not exceed $8.5 or $9 million.
While a handful of very small nonpublic schools will be closed in 1972–73, parents find the problem stabilized. The new law stopped a serious ciosing of schools because parents could see the light of day even though education costs and tuition charges have increased. Actually, parent-child morale has risen. They found legislative encouragement to pursue their constitutional rights. They feel better able to carry the heavy burdens demanded in support of public education also.
In Minnesota, all who support nonpublic education feel that our new law has gone a long way to preserve the cherished nonpublic system. They feel that in