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Adventures on the Road to Separation
Dinner with Margaret Thatcher; "Direction Challenged" in the Bronx; Round & Round with the Voucher-ites
By Marshall Fritz
Originally published in The Education Liberator, Vol. 2, No. 5, June 1996
Nineteen hard-pushing days of listening, speaking, and mendicanting ("alms for the useful, alms for the useful..."). Five speeches, four workshops, 45 meetings, two radio talk shows, two teleconferences, total of nine states plus "the District."
The "Marshall Meets a Big Name contest" was won by former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Lady Margaret Thatcher. More about our dinner below.
Reserve grand champions in the "Adrenalin Lifting Arena" were meetings with Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things; J. Patrick Rooney, president of Golden Rule Insurance and founder of Private Voucher Movement; Marshall Smith, Undersecretary of U.S. Dept. of Education; Tony Snow, USA Today columnist and sometime Rush Limbaugh replacement; and Robert Stuart, retired chairman of National Can. One signed the Proclamation; one agreed to speak at SepCon'96; one gave me extra intellectual ammo; one gave me a shocked look; one lent me a pipe to smoke; all gave me the courtesy of an honest listen.
Wednesday, April 10. Excellent AA flight to NYC. David Gilmartin, Waldorf school advocate, drove me to Irvington. Delightful dinner with good Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) people (e.g., Ralph Smeed and Jack Wenders of Idaho) who came a day early for FEE's 50th. Late night discussion with Dr. Stu Pritchard included bonus diagnosis of elbow bursitis.
Thursday, April 11. Morning spent in informal discussions at FEE, garnering signatures, including another School Sakharov and our first Proclaimer from Guatemala, Ramon Parellada, Austrian-school economist. Among friends old and new was Rev. Ed Opitz, who not only signed the Proclamation, but gave our movement another pithy thaying:
"America started with government backed churches and private schools; now we have private churches and government backed schools; someday we'll have it all one way or all the other."
Next, a 45-minute interchange with a leading Catholic thinker in public policy, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. It felt great to be able to present the case for Separation to a man of such intellect, end in a draw, and not make an enemy!
Then, The Big Dinner with Lady Thatcher (and 710 other guests at FEE's 50th at the Waldorf Astoria). The Lady's table and mine were less than a furlong apart.
Sat next to Dan West, VP of Union College, Schenectady. He's a liberal and friend of the Clintons from way back, but he so much enjoyed a spirited political/theological discussion with Rev. Tim Coyle, a long time friend, and me, that I think I can wangle an invitation to speak next fall at Union.
Lady Thatcher gave a ringing speech for free enterprise and individual responsibility. I asked her if she would favor repeal of 1870 Forster act which socialized elementary schooling in Great Britain, or was education an exception to the No Socialism Rule? Her answer made it clear that, in her opinion, education is quite the exception. Same for medical care. Afterwards I asked her if she'd like to read about the connection between government schooling and decline of family responsibility. She took our family/school brochure "to read on the plane." Now, wouldn't it be wonderful if...
After lively post-dinner discussion with Paige Moore (Texas), Gregg MacDonald (Wash.) and table of friends, back to David Gilmartin's where we found Young Jeff Morgenstern waiting in the lobby. Jeff was to spend the next six days as "my roadie". Late night discussion with David brushing me up on Anthroposophy. (Don't worry, Mom, they didn't get me!)
Give me a home where my cell phone can roam
Friday, April 12. This day looked so simple: Do a Milwaukee talk show by telephone, take train to Philly, rent car, drive to Maryland, do Baltimore talk show by telephone, take nap, give speech and have feet put to fire by three energetic responders. Ha! I should be so lucky!
It's my own fault we got off late in cab for Penn Station: I took too long finding out the reason my cell phone was kaput is that cell phone fraud is so rampant, "roam" is no longer automatic in certain major eastern cities, unless you tell them a week before you'll be there. (I told them I'd be there a week later.)
The cab ride went well because the Punjabi driver a) liked being greeted in Punjabi, and b) doesn't want his children corrupted by tax-funded schools. But one block from Penn Station we're jammed in traffic, so I told Jeff (incoherently, it turns out) I'd meet him and the eight bags at the station, then jumped out and looked for a pay phone to do the interview. This is where I learned that in Manhattan there are two types of pay phones on the street, vandalized and occupied.
Finally, with 15 seconds to spare, I dialed Milwaukee, only to find that the Penn Station clocks and the Milwaukee radio clocks were five minutes apart...and I'm too late to be on the show. Kind host Ralph Ovadal agreed to put me on the next segment. With that parked for 30 minutes, I started the search for Jeff. No luck. Did the talk show. Decided to retrace my steps. A block from the station, there was a sidewalk-sitting, guitar-playing, baggage-protecting Jeff Morgenstern. I quickly saw it was my fault for poor instructions, so I bawled him out for not putting out a cup and making some bucks. But when Jeff showed me he had secured the cabbie's signature on the Proclamation, all was forgiven.
Luckily, the 11:05 Amtrak was 30 minutes late and we caught it just fine. Unluckily, the P.A. announcement instructed people without reserved seats to leave the train. Luckily, the train pulled out of the station before I could respond to the announcement. Unluckily, the conductor told us she would have to charge us extra but we could stand all the way to Philly. Luckily, I found a seat. Now normally, I like a talkative veteran school teacher (35 years) who instantly agrees we need to get the government out of schooling. But I had to write my speech for that night. Luckily, we picked up more passengers somewhere in NJ and I had to give up my seat. Luckily, I can write a speech standing on a train.
Hooray for Avis in Philly for quick service. Hooray for my assistant, Morgen Gray, who insisted I not rent a glorified roller skate but an almost-full-size car. Now Jeff and I were cruising down I-95, running a little late, no problem, we just found a truck stop and did the talk show from there. For one hour, my voice filled the place's telephone room. I have no idea what the truckers told their wives and sweethearts about the crazy half-a-conversation they heard, because, of course, they had no idea I was on a talk show.
We zipped to Gertrude Zvonar's, got a shower and clean shirt, plus found out her daughter Liese had prepared lasagna. Stop. Resolved not to eat seconds. Ate. Willpower faded. Ate seconds. Jeff rode with School Sakharov Gertrude, a retired (32 year) math teacher. I-95 came to near total stop. Time ticked. Speech at 7:30. Time ticked.
Traffic was slow enough that I could make a quick presentation to guys in a van from Long Island going to North Carolina for fishing; they took the Proclamation. Finally we passed the obstruction, which wasn't, really. All lanes were open, but the lookie loos gotta look, eh? (When we have Separation of Road and State, private road companies will have Shroud Teams that will be dispatched to an accident along with police and medics; they'll erect a visual barrier so traffic can continue uninterrupted.)
Finally: The big event
The big event at Patterson High School Auditorium. Gertrude had even printed a program. Jeff set up the "back of the room book sale table." I set up recording equipment, met responders, but couldn't find the introduction notes for Gertrude. She winged it like a trooper, smiling to all 24 people in an auditorium designed for 800. In the hurry I couldn't find my clock, so I asked a person to flag me five minutes from my 30-minute limit. God bless her, she got so involved in the speech she forgot to warn me. After 45 minutes, Dr. Packer gently reminded me to leave some time for the responders. Gulp, gulp, I finished. (Susan Gaztanaga has written an excellent review of the entire evening, so I'll say only that I was delighted that everyone involved was respectful and stuck to the issues. The evening was the first of this format, and I thank Gertrude Zvonar and everyone else involved. We have an excellent tape available from the evening.)
On to stay at the home of Ruth Meyer and Milton Palmer; late night discussion on why they chose to home school, and how it's working well. (I need to pick up the pace and spare you so many details, so "just the high points" from now on. Promise.)
Daughter cooks vegetarian calzone
Saturday, April 13. Conducted our first "Leadership Workshop" for grass roots volunteers. Susan and Lorenzo Gaztanaga recruited 11 people, plus one walk-in who heard about it on the radio. We got a solid commitment from Steve Ziegler, school board member, and the Gaztanagas to start a Maryland chapter.
Took the evening off to have dinner with my daughter, Annie, and her boyfriend Kyle. She cooks a great vegetarian calzone.
Sunday, April 14. Attended high mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Wash., DC. As a child I gave dimes to help its construction. I don't use the word "awesome" very often, and don't think I've ever before said something was "sublime," but those are the words that help explain the emotion and the tears that welled up more than once.
Perhaps it was appropriate, for that afternoon seven conservative Catholics gathered with Joe Sobran and me at his favorite Greek restaurant (Little Cafe, Arlington) to discuss the nuances of whether, and why, Catholics should favor Separation. We were blessed with the presence of the education specialist of the California Catholic Conference, Bob Teegarden, a long time Proclaimer. (Bob later pointed out that I need to do a session with Daniel Berrigan and others of liberal Catholic orientation.)
Jeff had gone home with Dr. Ziegler, and now we met up at Jim Lathrop's home in Arlington. Far-ranging conversation about support of local volunteers. One of Jeff's high points of the trip was teaching Jim some guitar stuff. He was surprised that he would be able to teach anything "to a man who had worked at the Pentagon!"
Monday, April 15. We visited Ken and Margaret Whitehead in their home. Ken is former Dept. of Education leader, and Margaret is co-developer of a character development program. Both proclaimed for Separation.
Next, we visited with our attorneys, Chip Grange and John Ruybalid, which was neat because we'd previously met only by phone and fax. They are specialists in non-profits.
The afternoon was spent on the phone making and confirming appointments, and the evening was with Doug Dewey of the National Scholarship Center, plus a teleconference with another organization. (Doug is a Proclaimer; he has agreed to serve on our board of directors as we re-incorporate the Alliance.)
Surprise meeting with J. Patrick Rooney
Tuesday, April 16. Phone calls in the morning, plus a surprise meeting with J. Patrick Rooney, president of Golden Rule Insurance Company. (I had seen his picture so often from his work with private vouchers, that I said in a booming voice, "Patrick! J. Patrick Rooney!!" as if we were childhood friends meeting after a five-decade hiatus. I quickly assured him the reason he couldn't remember me was that we'd never met.)
After telling Mr. Rooney of my sincere admiration for his generosity in starting his private voucher program in Indianapolis, and his vision in helping others start such programs, I asked him to consider that he might be in the position of the men who killed the goose laying the golden eggs. To wit, the real reason parent-and-charity funded private schools work better than many "public schools" may have little to do with their ownership, and much to do with the sacrifice and responsibility of parents who use them.
I reminded him of the picnics some private voucher foundations have held to allow donors and recipients to mingle. Then I asked him to compare those joyous occasions to an imaginary meeting between food stamp users and taxpayers. In the charity (caritas, love) situation the mutual respect and caring (caritas, love) between recipient and donor is palpable. We can only imagine the rancor that would permeate the mixing of taxpayer and welfare recipient.
I asked him to consider reversing course in one respect: To change the private voucher movement from its orientation as "demonstration project" intended to be taken over by tax-funded vouchers, to a permanent movement aimed at growing to 10-15 million children, maybe more. He listened carefully, he took reams of material; we've had subsequent correspondence and conversation. We'll see.
Next, met with Carl Anderson and Russell Shaw at the Knights of Columbus. I started with the pragmatic reason for Catholics to prefer Separation, that it would mean an increase in Catholic schools from 9,000 to 40-50,000, and from 2.6 million children to 12-14 million. They seemed interested to learn that the Separation Alliance exists, and welcomed being kept up to date on our progress.
After another burst of phone calls, Jeff and I visited Tony Snow, columnist for The Detroit News, and widely known for sometimes filling in for Rush Limbaugh. Our conversation ended with his accepting an invitation to speak at SepCon'96. (Oops. Forgot to mention that at the FEE 50th banquet, Tom DiLorenzo also agreed to speak at SepCon'96; Tom is prof. of econ. at Loyola Baltimore.)
Big chasm between Bracey & us
Then we met with Gerald Bracey. He is known in education reform circles, along with Biddle and Berliner, for propounding the view that tax-funded schools are doing better than ever, that there is no general decline. He says that test scores, if looked at correctly, actually show improvement. He graciously accepted literature and welcomed being kept abreast of our progress.
Dinner with Joe Sobran. I was intellectually pooped, and we just had fun. Jeff and I spent the night at the home of Perry Willis, national director of the Libertarian Party, and had a late night far-ranging conversation.
An honorable bogey man
Wednesday, April 17. Got to the District early enough to get a good parking place, and visited with Marshall Smith, Undersecretary of Dept. of Education and former Dean of the Stanford Grad. School of Education. I told him I hold him up as a bogey man, and point people to his writings (Politics of Education Association Yearbook, 1990, p. 259) as evidence that the education establishment has figured out how to use the tax-funded voucher, if it ever wins in a big way, to extend their controls to the formerly independent schools.
He smiled, reached into his files, handed me a sheaf of photocopied pages with the comment, "These may help you even further." (Designing Coherent Education Policy, Susan Furhman, ed., Jossey-Bass, San Francisco 1995, p. 260-312.) I enjoyed our hour together because I sensed "Mike" is a man of honor, sincerely trying to figure out how to reform a system he still believes in very much.
Next, we visited Bella Rosenberg, Albert Shanker's assistant at the American Federation of Teachers. She so despises the Separation idea, and is so convinced that it will hurt children, that she showed great restraint in our conversation. I was working hard to convince her my motives are good, and at worst she should consider me sorely misguided, not daft or evil. We'll see.
We raced to Philadelphia to put Jeff on a plane back to Fresno, then I visited John Haas, prof. of moral theology at St. Charles Seminary. What a treat! While he is not yet to the position of Proclaiming, he is now giving it serious consideration.
Quick flight to Boston, a couple hours on the phone, and finally, 11 pm pickup by Peter Everett, and a chance to see his and Cris' new home and beautiful baby. Cris is the person who already had a major influence on my thinking in 1990 by introducing me to Sudbury Valley School. Little did I know that the next night she would push my thinking again. But I fell into bed (can one fall into futon?).
Fishmarket thinks we're rich
Thursday, April 18. Kim Engler took over driving duties. We met a perturbed Don Feder at The Boston Herald, who pointed out that my Fresno office failed to fax and confirm the appointment, so he had scheduled something else. (This turned out to be the only missed appointment of the whole trip. And, I'm glad to report, my staff had done its job, but somewhere a fax number had gotten transposed, and some fish market in Nantucket thinks the Separation Alliance is so big and rich that we send out junk faxes.)
So we drove downtown. Our mistake. Even with a detailed (and partly correct) city map, Boston is impossible. But it was a beautiful day, and eventually we got to the Pioneer Institute to visit Jim Peyser, their education specialist. What else, we discussed vouchers. I don't think I made a friend. Then we met with long time liberty lover Lovett Peters, founder of the Institute. He also sees tax-funded vouchers as a great transitional step to Separation. (Life would sure be easier for me if I did, too, rather than seeing them as an exacerbation of the decline of family responsibility, hence a step backwards.)
Next, on to Quincy. Kim drove, I navigated. Not being true to my gender, I asked directions. The nice policeman standing in an orange vest next to the utility truck must not have had his glasses on, because where he pointed on the map was not very close to the Quincy Historical Society. But there were many nice policemen in orange vests standing next to utility trucks in Quincy, so it was easy to ask again.
Quincy is the putative (my new word for the week) 1846 American entry point for the Prussian graded schooling system. H. Hobart Holly fit my image of a curator of town archives: helpful, careful, quiet octogenarian with immense recall of detail. He found education reports from the 1820s to the 1870s, plus various masters theses written by grad students at the local college in the last few decades. Drat. I hate it when something I've spoken about doesn't seem to be true, and that seems to be the case here. Now I must keep my big trap shut about 1996 being the 150th anniversary of "the Prussian EduVirus," and tentatively recant my earlier remarks.
Next we enjoyed some Boston traffic (reminds me of L.A., except that the distances are so short that it doesn't remind me of L.A.) on the way to Arlington, where Kim had arranged a Leadership Workshop to be held in a new-age bookstore.
Freedom vs. a truth custodian
During setup, a customer asked us what we were up to. Upon hearing, she said she was 30 years a teacher, mucho upset with the system, could she join us? Ever ready to find our next School Sakharov, I invited her and told her to pay the $30 registration fee at the end if she got her time's worth. Indeed she did, but she didn't sign the Proclamation. One of the questions was, "What about parents who teach their children old fashioned ideas about sex?" I said this was their right, and just as it was wrong for people of a traditional religious orientation to try to force their views on children of parents of a different worldview, it is also wrong for the moderns to force their views on the trads. Stop. Tilt. Whoa. It turns out The Truth she believes in is SO IMPORTANT that it trumps the parents' rights. Chalk up another person who sees the wrongness of being a slave, but not the wrongness of being a slave owner.
I have no magic bullet to offer anybody who comes up against this intractable position. My only suggestion is to heed what Alliance advisor Philip Mitchell says, "When you go fishing, you must find water." Just recognize that some people are not going to be early birds on the Separation question; respect them for the other good parts of their lives, and move on. As friend Gibb Martin says, there comes a time in some conversations when you need to say, "How about them Dodgers?"
Crawford teaches Fritz important lesson
Now to an important lesson I learned, perhaps the most significant of the trip. Cris Crawford Everett challenged the statement from my New Year's letter that the heart of the watermelon is that Americans have bought into a bogus right, that is, "Every child has the right to an education at the neighbor's expense paid for by the force of taxation." She pointed out that government could compel schooling, and even demand certain outcomes (i.e., "standards"), but not pay for it, and we would still have a monstrous edu-mess. She's right. Time to recant again. My best (current) statement of the bogus idea is this: "Parents cannot be trusted to adequately educate their children. Society must define education and require it using the force of government." Comments welcome.
Great pizza, great evening, great lesson learned, but no new chapter. Oh well. When we got to the Englers', I did remember to call Amtrak to get a reservation for my trip to NYC. Oops. No reserved seats on this train. Grrrr. Got a good night's sleep (7 hours!!), and was assured all the iguanas were in cages for the night.
Day ten, half done
Friday, April 19. Kim still driving. Had breakfast with Ed. Prof. Kevin Ryan at a Chinese Howard Johnson's that doesn't serve fried rice until 11 am. Good bagel, though. Kevin is director of the Center for Character Education and Ethics at Boston Univ., the first ed. prof. to Proclaim for Separation, and will be a speaker in our "War of the Worldviews" medley at SepCon'96. Another wide-ranging discussion of why and how the system is imploding.
Nice drive to Dedham, and good bagels with "Kirk" Kilpatrick, ed. prof. at Boston College and author of Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong. One of the most memorable moments of the entire trip was half-way through this conversation, Kirk said, "I'm ready to sign that thing, Marshall. I know that's what you're here for." (We'd met a year before, and he's been receiving our literature all along.)
Kim got me to the train in enough time for me to catch up on phone calls. Morgen and Sharonat our Fresno H.Q. were all excited with a fax from Pat Rooney. If and when I receive his OK, I'll share with you the gist of his comments, and my response (all friendly). Suffice it to say that for now, he is not on board the Separation train with us, but he has heard our whistle.
Two people helped me lug the bags onto the ferry, and I had a beautiful sunset crossing from Manhattan to New Jersey. Boy, was Jerry Gould surprised when the two people next to me gave him huge bags to carry!
Had marvelous Chinese dinner with Jerry, wife Barbara, and their daughter Julliette. They own Conrad Direct, our mailing list broker.
First paid chapter!
Saturday, April 20. The third of four Leadership Workshops. Elizabeth Macron of NJ and Shirley Lucas of Penn. decided to start a chapter that will focus on helping parents come to the decision they did, that tax-funded schools are too risky to the character formation of the child. Their goal is assisting parents to find ways to remove their children from tax-funded schools. Not only is that a new concept for a chapter, but they were the first to pay the chapter registration fee and fill out the Chapter Application Form. So, I think we now can safely announce the formation of Chapter One! (See April 22.)
After the all-day workshop and growing sleep deficit, I couldn't even accept the Goulds' invitation to a Japanese dinner. Checked my email, ignored it, went to bed, tried to read a little Stanley "Yes, reality is real" Fish. Got a good night's sleep.
Sunday, April 21. As we did an 8 am luggage transfer under the George Washington Bridge from Jerry's car to one driven by Mark Swearingen, under the watchful eyes of two policemen, I warned my friends, sotto voce, to not look like drug couriers. This was the very location where the alleged exchange took place that the alleged judge allegedly let off the alleged crooks because he thought the alleged police didn't have enough alleged reason for search, but later changed his alleged mind after allegedly not feeling the alleged political pressure. It went smoothly. Book transportation is still pretty safe (depends upon content, of course).
Eastern Orthodox get equal time
Who would have expected the signs to the Major Degan Expressway would not have been erected yet? Or had all been stolen? Or, most likely, had never even been considered by the NY State Dept. of Transportation? So, Mark and I enjoyed a leisurely drive on Bronx city streets, but eventually got to 10 am mass at St. Vladimir's in Yonkers, the seminary for the Orthodox Church in America. Standing room only (partly caused because they don't seem to have chairs or pews except for nursing mothers and septuagenarians, and, pretend as I might.... ). I liked the sermon on the "Blessed doubt of Thomas." It made sense.
Then we whizzed to Greenwich, Conn., for the fourth Leadership Workshop. Nine reservations, nine attendees. (Not necessarily the same nine, but who can be picky at the beginning of a movement?) Thanks to Alan Schaeffer for sponsoring the event and Dan Gressel for allowing us to use his office.
Sam and Robin Edelston welcomed me into their home, and I even bought a nifty baby holder from Robin for my daughter and granddaughter. Still tired, went to bed early.
Marty Edelston's great art
Monday, April 22. Finally, a relaxing day. Sam lent me a spare room at Boardroom Reports as temporary office. If you ever get to visit and see the art his dad has collected, do it! Virtually every piece had a political message that I could understand. Admittedly, Sam had to explain the significance of the 435 house flies superimposed on the Washington Monument, but others weren't so subtle.
Nice Chinese dinner with Don Hauptman in NYC, followed by a teleconference with some of the attendees from the earlier Baltimore Leadership workshop. By the end, we had our second chapter. Congrats to president Susan Gaztanaga and vice presidents Steve Fiedler and Lorenzo Gaztanaga!
Good night's sleep at Don's. Don is an advertising genius who frequently gives my writings an energetic vetting. One time he had 82 suggestions to improve a fund-raising letter.
Tuesday, April 23. Visited The College Board, and the generous archivist pulled out the college entrance exams for 1914. I was curious, since I had heard some skepticism about the 34-question test I've reprinted as an indicator that academics have slipped badly the last four score years. Indeed, the test I'm reprinting is legit. It was all there in their temperature and humidity controlled halon protected files. (The test is kinda convincing because most college graduates, me included, figure they could handle at best, one or two questions. And the blooming test is an entrance exam!)
Great conversation with a Ukranian cab driver all the way to Newark airport. He is determined that his children will not go to tax-funded schools.
Nice Kiwi flight to Chicago, where traffic allowed an extended (and excellent) conversation with Dr. & Mrs. Ralph Butz. They are leaders of the local Concerned Women for America affiliate, and their stories left no room for doubt that they have every reason to be concerned.
Shower and soup at Jim and Tina Johnston's. Jim is on the Heartland Institute board, and Tina is a quick response nurse w/Red Cross.
On to the speech hosted by Gayle Mountain at the lovely home of Amy Radford in Wilmette. Gayle and friends had rounded up 32 leaders and active people in the evangelical Christian churches. Gave the speech, "Why Christians Need Separation of School and State," and was well received. Unfortunately, the speech part failed to record on tape.
A very energetic question and answer period followed, so "energetic" that I called Jack Roeser the next day to apologize in case I had been too "energetic" (yes, that's a euphemism). He graciously said there was nothing to forgive. Unfortunately, the Q&A period did record. Maybe I should distribute it under the title "Mistakes You Shouldn't Make — A Practicum." (Did you already guess it was about tax-funded vouchers?)
Wednesday, April 24. Met with Ed Uihlein, former private school board chairman and benefactor to many right-thinking causes. He asked penetrating questions. I gave principled answers. We agreed. What a relief, after the pounding I'd been taking from pragmatists for almost two weeks. Gayle did the driving for the day, and we squeezed in a surprise meeting with Ray Stalker, president of the Christian Home Educators Assoc. of Ill. Now this is a man I got to like immediately: He likes full Separation, he signed the Proclamation and became a full member, and then he paid for the delicious Chinese lunch! That's a hat trick, eh?
We were a little tight getting downtown to meet Bob Stuart, former chairman of National Can, so Gayle just dropped me and went looking for parking. Just as well. Bob smokes a pipe, and I hinted around so he lent me one. (I smoked a pipe for 19 years; got rid of the terrible habit in 1978.) So we both puffed away, and Gayle would have turned green.
Bob didn't sign on the spot, and I told him that I had been told by the Masonic librarian in San Francisco that Masons would never sign the Proclamation, that support of the "public schools" is a tenet of Masonry. Either that librarian is misinformed, or Bob is a bit of a contrarian, because a week later his signed Proclamation arrived in Fresno. (I'm curious if we have any other Masons who have proclaimed; please advise.)
No poker with Steve Chapman
A quick meeting with Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune. I hope never to play poker against Steve. I couldn't "read him" whether he liked Separation or not.
Next we dropped in on Sr. Connie Driscoll at the St. Martin de Porres House of Hope in South Chicago. You may have heard of the nun with the eye patch who won't take a dime of govt. money, and does wonders with dozens of recovering drug abusing ladies of the evening. Do visit this place. In minutes you will sense the love, cleanliness, and energetic struggle to reclaim their lives. All hand-me down furniture, 25 ladies and 40 children, spotless, heartwarming. Didn't take Sr. Connie long to sign the Proclamation, either.
Encounter with another "truth custodian"
Over to Univ. of Chicago where delightful and poised 19-year-old Corrie Watterson had set up a meeting of the Limited Government Club for me to speak in favor of Separation, to be followed by a response from the president of the Democratic Socialist Club. His response was as articulate a presentation of "the other side" as I have yet heard. Essentially, he believes his version of The Truth (ending racism, sexism, and patriarchism, and promoting egalitarianism and environmentalism) is so good and so true that his side is justified in imposing it on the children of unenlightened people. My response was that, in principle, he is doing the same thing other religious groups (e.g., Christians, Muslims, Leninists and Maoists) have when they controlled government.
Late dinner with former NY social worker Dana Stuart, now a doctoral candidate at the Univ. of Chicago. School of Education. Interesting guy. Long discussions on pedagogy, social service, home schooling. He'll be at SepCon'96.
Thursday, April 25. Interview with Rich Zipperer for Development Associate position. Then great meeting with Herb Walberg, prof. of ed at Univ. of Ill. and chairman of the Heartland Institute. What else, we discussed vouchers, and I think he has glimmers that we might be right, that vouchers will worsen the responsibility issue, in that the number of people depending upon tax funds to educate their children will go up.
Is Marshall a Johnny One-Note?
Dave Padden, friend and also a Heartland board member, lent me space in his office to make calls. Plus we had a nice chat. Vouchers again. Am I becoming a Johnny One-Note, or is this tactical question really important, as I think it is? Comments welcome.
Took Dana and Zida Stuart to dinner with their young children. Like my evening at the Deweys and Edelstons, it was good to be about children for a bit. More intense discussion on edutopics with a thoughtful man who is studying in the heart of the edubeast (my word, not his).
Friday, April 26. Surprise 10-minute meeting with Joe Overton, friend from Mackinac Institute, Midland, Mich. At least I didn't attack him on their voucher position. Oh, no. I attacked the concept of contracting out (ala EAI in Baltimore and Hartford) as monopsony, which will become an even worse way for the govt. to "do education" than today's socialism.
A long drive to Ft. Wayne with Andy Little, president of the Buckeye Institute, Dayton, Ohio. We're friends, and he's tenacious, so we had great time discussing — you got it — tax-funded vouchers. He's beginning to waver. I hope.
Next came a transfer in Fort Wayne to Steve Dasbach, national chair of Libertarian Party, who hauled me to Lewisburg, Ohio. Ross Anderson of Anderson Pallet Company had arranged a public speech at a classroom in the beautiful Tri-County North High School, to be followed by a response from the district superintendent of schools. Speech went well, and the superintendent's response was thoughtful and not terribly critical. He thinks rural schools are still doing quite well.
The audience was less certain, and about half of the two dozen signed the Proclamation at the end, including Marianna Thomas, widow of the late Lowell Thomas.
Does Steve Dasbach snore?
Late dinner in a Dairy Queen at a truck stop, then crashed in motel. Slept great. If Steve snores, I didn't hear him.
Saturday, April 27. Next to last day. Still having fun, but thinking of home and hearth more and more. Early morning drive to Cincinnati to Libertarian Party Ohio convention. Immediately bumped into Greg Dirasian of Indiana, and recruited him to "man the booth." Got to hear excellent speeches by Andy Little, Mary Ruwart, and Rev. Harold Orndorff. He is a Christian minister, a libertarian, and has that rare knack of combining insights and humor. The audience, albeit rich mit non-theists, loved him.
Wrote my speech, got a wee nap, and gave the banquet speech to a warm audience happy to hear "Why Separation of School and State is Closer Than You Think." It was fun to see so many old friends, esp. a former student of mine at Pioneer Christian Academy (see sidebar, p. 11), and conference organizer Steve Shulte. Roomed with Mike Grossberg, movie reviewer for the Columbus Dispatch; he is always good for new insights. Highlight: I went the whole day without a voucher argument.
Sunday, April 28. Up at 4:15 to ride to airport with volunteer and new friend Randy Plikerd. We had time for coffee and bagel, and had an interesting discussion about Separation with a Hindu at a nearby table. The Hindu bought Sheldon Richman's book (Separating School and State) from me on the spot, but I haven't heard from him yet.
Nice flights to Chicago, from there to L.A. Long enough layover to review trip with advisor Philip Mitchell. (He agrees with me about vouchers, so we had to argue about something else.)
Arrived Fresno 2:48 pm. Met by wife Joan, two daughters and four grandchildren. Got home and had to plunge the toilet. Being a big cheese is behind me for a while. Back to regular. It was fun, and I think I did some good.
Alliance for the Separation of School & State. Permission is granted to freely distribute this article as long as this copyright notice is included in its entirety.
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