Protestants and Catholics alike objected to America’s first public schools. Author and homeschool father Dr. James Carper sheds light on America’s early system of education on today’s Home School Heartbeat with HSLDA President Mike Smith.
Dr. Carper, can you describe the experience of the early Catholic dissenters? What were their objections to the common schools?
Mike, as your listeners may know, the 19th century Catholic Church held to the concept of the teaching church. In other words the church, through its clergy, interpreted the Bible. Whereas Protestants tended to embrace the position that believers could comprehend the scriptures, in large measure, on their own. Thus, the common school practice of reading the King James Version without comment struck Catholic clergy as Protestant. Not non-sectarian, and they complained bitterly.
What were their objectives for their children in education?
Simply put, to have their children educated in the doctrines or orthodoxy of their own faith. Barring that, they wanted the public or common school curriculum cleansed of anti-Catholic, sometimes in the guise of anti-Irish material. They also asked that the Douay Version of the Bible used in public schools where there was a clear Catholic majority. I should also add the petition for a share of the public school funds to support their own schools. They thought double taxation was unjust.
Well thank you, Dr. Carper. I look forward to talking to you more about this subject next time. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.