The Supreme Court’s decision in Stone v. Graham was announced on November 17th, 1980. Less than two weeks earlier, Ronald Reagan had been elected President of the United States, initiating what would later be called the “Reagan Revolution” – a resurgence of conservative values and policies anchored in an idealized past. The events leading to Stone began years earlier, but its outcome sent a message to the faithful in the 1980s similar to that of Engel v. Vitale and Abington v. Schempp two decades before: American’s fundamental values (meaning public promotion of Christianity) were under attack by intellectual elitists… aka “liberals.” And some of them wore robes.
Wisconsin law required that kids be in school SOMEWHERE – public or private was up to the parents – until they were at least 16. Yoder, Miller, and Yutzy were prosecuted for violating state law and the case went to trial with Jonas Yoder acting on behalf of the group. While he was no doubt a capable individual, the Amish and Conservative Mennonites aren’t big on using the court system to resolve their difficulties. They do not, by and large, sue people for damages or seek legal recourse for minor infractions. An “Amish Lawyer” would be about as common as a “Shiite Stripper” or a “Hindu Butcher.”
For English or Social Studies teachers (especially those frothy AP types), the Holy Hand Grenade of rapport-killers is the Five Paragraph Essay. Come out in favor, come out opposed, or simply mention it in passing, and off the rest of us will go. Only Wikipedia and Teach For America have achieved similar infamy for their ability to produce pseudo-intellectual chaos and mutual hostility, online or in the teachers’ lounge.
Honestly, you’d be better off bringing up religion, immigration, or abortion. Fewer emotions or deeply entrenched convictions in play that way.
The celebrations of freedom and democracy which lingered after World War II were rapidly fading in favor of fear, suspicion, and a sense of persecuted minority status among the straight white Protestants who still made up nearly 90% of the nation’s population (and virtually 100% of its leadership). Historically, it seems, nothing threatens entrenched demographic power like a handful of outliers thinking their lives matter as well.
Three Big Things:
1. McCollum v. Board of Education was the first Supreme Court case to test the idea of “released time” during the school day for religious instruction by outside groups or religious leaders.
2. The Court’s four different written opinions demonstrate the complexity of applying absolutist rhetoric (“wall of separation”) to specific circumstances without trampling on the rights of local decision-makers.
3. The issues debated in McCollum reappeared in various iterations long after this particular decision and still come up in only slightly modified forms today.
I’ve started putting together information and drafts for something which may or may not be titled “Have To” History: A Wall of Separation (Public School Edition). Call me wacky, but I find this stuff fascinating.
Several years ago, my wife and I moved to northern Indiana from Oklahoma and I started a job at a new school. Day One, first hour, I was about 30 seconds into introducing our opening activity when I was interrupted by announcements via school intercom. “Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance…”
We’re going to keep things simple this week, my Eleven Faithful Followers (#11FF). As much as I enjoy our time together and the hours you no doubt spend giggling over every clever phrase and admiring my poignant insights, I’m hoping you’ll take the time to actually go read and follow at least a few of this week’s featured players.
My wife and I went to see “Knives Out” this past weekend. (Spoiler Alert: It’s REALLY Good.) At one point two of the main characters were sitting in a diner and I heard familiar music playing in the background – music I’d never have expected to hear anywhere outside of my personal collection.
You can be a righteous rocker, or a holy roller, you can be most anything.
This week’s Blue Serials largely features blogs and other online sources which have absolutely no need of a signal boost from me. Still, if they’re going to be so narcissistic as to create great content that’s not shared here FIRST, I should at least have the right to abscond it and use it for my own glorification.
Plus, these are all, like… really good pieces. So there’s that.