Dziennik Chicagoski -- June 02, 1891Education (Editorial)
In the last issue of Nowe Zycie (New Life), which under its new editor has abandoned its extreme socialistic principles, we find a lengthy article with the above title. The editor evidently desires to engage in a mild and peaceful controversy on the question of the basic principles of education. The editor will probably favor us with other articles. His article refers to the question discussed in Zgoda a few weeks ago, but it differs so much from the one in Zgoda in the expounding of theories that it not only encourages controversy but even makes it very pleasant.
The article in Nowe Zycie attacks parochial schools. We shall not pretend that the editor of Nowe Zycie has read our discussions with Zgoda, which appeared in our paper; we shall therefore refrain from referring to them, and shall once more answer his arguments very briefly.
The author points out that it is the duty of every Pole coming to this country 2to become a good American; however, he should also remain a good Pole. Of course, this applies equally to other nationalities such as the Irish, the Germans, the French, the Bohemians, the Swedes, etc. On this point we agree with the author of the article. To prove our stand, we recall the many statements appearing in our paper to the effect that any newcomer who stays here and is not interested in our form of government and has no desire to adopt and defend its principles is unworthy of receiving any benefits from our institutions.
A person may be a good American and also a good Pole, since it is possible to reconcile being the one with being the other. The author will surely agree with this statement; therefore it need not be argued. We Poles should be good Americans by conviction, because the United States is at present the most advanced country in the world, and because, in addition, we owe this nation a debt of gratitude. We should also be good Poles by conviction because on the one hand it is cowardly to renounce one's oppressed and downtrodden nationality and on the other hand it is honorable to profess allegiance to such a nationality, to take active part in the protests against the most abominable political crimes perpetrated against it, and to try to punish the guilty and 3establish justice.
According to the opinion of the author, a person may be a patriotic American and still feel that he is a good Pole, or, in other words, being the one does not interfere with being the other. If this is true, then neither the duty to be a good American nor the duty to be a good Pole should stand in the way of those Poles who were brought up as Catholics and who desire to remain loyal to their faith when they come to this country. Only a strong religious influence can preserve morality among those who have freed themselves from bondage, and morality is a very important factor in a country where people rule themselves.
Let us suppose, for the present, that the author of the article agrees with the theory that our descendants should be good Americans, good Poles, and religious persons. Now, let us take the author's reasoning under our consideration.
The article reads: "One of the fundamental principles of the United States Government--a principle which is a guarantee of our freedom--is the separation of Church and State. In the parochial schools, especially those which are 4Catholic, church matters and obedience to the Pope are the most important subjects, and they are driven into the young minds of the pupils. Other subjects are considered as less important and as secondary to religious matters."
We cannot understand how anyone can make such statements without presenting some proofs, such as a list of the courses of study taught in the parochial schools, or an account of the system of teaching, or the contents of schoolbooks.
If the author had looked over the schoolbooks used, or if he had read the outline of subjects taught in the parochial schools, he would not make such statements. If we look at the list of subjects taught in Catholic colleges we shall be convinced that the subjects taught in the public schools are also taken up in Catholic colleges. That parochial schools teach religion in addition to other subjects is true, but for this reason the study period is prolonged by one hour. Of course the study of religion does not occupy a secondary place in Catholic colleges, but neither are other subjects regarded as secondary to the study of religion.5
Furthermore, well-equipped parochial elementary schools have the same equipment as well-equipped public schools. That not all parochial schools are properly equipped is true, but on the other hand we must admit that neither are all public schools exemplary. But when a certain principle is involved we must confine ourselves to the well-equipped schools of both sides.
And now as for "obedience to the Pope." This common objection voiced by the opponents of Catholicism and disproved so many times refers only to the dogmas or the doctrines of faith which are decided by the Pope. These doctrines of faith, especially of the Catholic faith, do not contradict the principles of the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, they cannot be opposed to these principles. One of the precepts of the Catholic Church (and this precept is known and observed by every faithful Catholic) says that we should acknowledge and obey civil authority ("Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's"). Moreover, a priest always prays for the ruler of the country at every mass.
The author asks: "Will a child educated in these schools know the difference 6between the Church and the State?" Indeed, such a child will know this because he has learned it, whereas in the public schools nothing is taught on the matter. The indifference with which a child is educated in the public schools inoculates his mind with a false conviction that the country will not permit him to profess any particular religion, whereas in the parochial schools the child learns that State and Church are two different things, and that we should obey both the State and the Church in their different spheres. The child also learns that one may be a good Catholic and a good American at the same time.
The author continues: "Can such a child be as liberal as the Constitution of the United States, after he has grown up and become a citizen?" Certainly, because the Constitution of the United States does not permit atheism, and allows the citizen of this country to profess the faith which he considers as the best. The parochial schools have actually adopted the principles of the American Constitution, which they put into practice by teaching us principles of religion, thus protecting us from atheism. The public schools, on the other hand, have no opportunity for teaching or applying these principles.7
These and similar questions are answered by the author himself as follows: "It is not necessary to answer these questions for history has already answered them. It suffices to mention the history of the Polish National Alliance in the United States."
The history of the Polish National Alliance has not, as yet, come to an end. The next convention will reveal how sad its condition is. Its history, however, has nothing to do with the question of schools and education.
The following statement is evidently a conclusion reached by the author of the article: "Only public schools can provide us with the assurance that our children will at least learn what is taught in the parochial schools and, in addition, how to understand and properly appreciate the institutions of our country."
The textbooks, the courses, the satisfactory results of entry examinations taken by the pupils of the parochial schools at higher institutions of learning, among them the United States Military Academy at West Point--all of these prove that in the parochial schools the students learn at least as much as 8pupils do in the public schools, and that they do learn how to understand and properly appreciate our institutions.
But the foregoing statement may be reversed to read: "Only the parochial schools can provide us with the assurance that our children will at least learn what is taught in the public schools, and, in addition, will learn the principles of religion and their native tongue." The author should not maintain "that no one prohibits the establishment of special schools at which only the Polish language and Polish history, but no religion, would be taught." Should we send our children to two schools?
Let us accept the principle that the study of religion, of the native tongue, and of the language of the country are not secondary subjects. We will then recognize the importance of the parochial schools, because if any of these subjects is considered to be of secondary importance in the upbringing of our children, then the latter will not grow up into citizens of whom we should be proud.
I A 2 a, I A 1 a, I J, III G, III H
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