Each year the California Grand Lodge and its constituent Masonic lodges during the state proclaim one thirty day period to be “Community Colleges Month.” A proclamation is routinely sent by the sitting down Grand Master, study aloud in each and every constituent lodge for the duration of one or far more monthly stated meetings. Its goal has always been to inspire lodges to prepare a program publicly supporting Community Colleges in a way that reveals for all to see the depth of Freemasonry’s determination.
Right up until 2011, each and every constituent lodge was usually remaining to come to a decision for by itself what to do without having the gain of also embracing a statewide Masonic project in which it could turn into concerned. That effort has been a rather haphazard implementation of a sequence of diverse things to do by diverse lodges doing the job independently of each and every other. The plans ranged from elaborate and energetic interaction with picked Community Colleges to nothing at all at all.
There are lots of numerous motives why specified lodges have performed little or nothing at all. In some lodges the associates have not been specially energetic outdoors of lodge ritual or lodge social activities. In other lodges the past management merely did not present adequate vision. And in still other lodges fiscal means ended up inadequate to do substantially far more than wrestle to guidance the bare minimum of things to do.
But all of that improved in 2011 for California Masons and their lodges. Grand Master William J. Bray III led the way to employing a statewide Masonic determination to the state’s public educational facilities. Whilst it was his management that supplied the power for employing the plans, the prepare came from ordinary Masons who perform in the trenches of Freemasonry during the state.
The most modern Grand Lodge Strategic System is the merchandise of a survey taken by its Govt Committee and workers sent to each and every and every single member of a constituent lodge. Woven into the material of that prepare was the overwhelmingly most well known reaction: Masonry should turn into a power for profoundly invigorating our Community Colleges. Masons up and down the state concluded that it was essential to preserve public schooling, make it far better than at any time prior to, and establish to our communities that Masons believe that that a profitable method of cost-free public schooling is important to the continuation of a cost-free modern society.
To far better have an understanding of why this kind of a various team of gentlemen and women of all ages from differing political, religious and cultural backgrounds stand joined arm-in-arm in guidance of public educational facilities, it is instructive to very first discover how and why public educational facilities came to dominate America’s academic method. A excellent offer of credit history for that goes to Horace Mann – the “Father of the Common College Movement” – who also took place to be a Mason. It would be a miscalculation, nonetheless, to conclude that Mann’s devotion to the public school result in was thanks to his getting a Mason. It would also be a miscalculation to infer that Freemasonry supports Community Colleges merely for the reason that Horace Mann was a Mason. The real truth of the subject is that Masonry embraces values that Mann uncovered desirable enough to be initiated into the Craft. Freemasonry and Mann shared the same reverence for advantage, morality and the progression of an enlightened public.
Right now, Community Colleges are the main source for educating our kids from kindergarten by large school. That was not always so, for from the commencing of this region till the existing working day advancing the result in of Community College schooling has been strongly opposed by mothers and fathers with powerful political backing who have steadfastly resisted turning their kids around to instructors for their ethical schooling. Even in America’s early several years some kids ended up property-schooled. If their mothers and fathers ended up rich enough others ended up taught by non-public tutors. On the other hand, soon soon after the American Revolution was concluded, Thomas Jefferson initiated a nationwide dialogue that gained this kind of tremendous momentum that Community Colleges eventually grew to become the norm rather than the exception.
Jefferson argued that a cost-free and impartial modern society would be more robust if all of its citizens received equivalent access to know-how – know-how which each and every could then use in their day by day lives. At the conclusion of the Revolution the country uncovered by itself without having any academic method and the folks ended up remaining to fend for on their own. To solution the subject, Jefferson – who at numerous occasions argued with equivalent vigor for modest and large authorities – prompt that tax dollars be made use of to fund a nationwide academic method. His suggestion was disregarded at the time and his notion languished for approximately a century.
By the 1840’s a couple of Community Colleges experienced popped up all-around the region monetarily supported by communities that could find the money for them. At about this time Horace Mann began his very own crusade, buying up where Jefferson experienced remaining off. Mann’s everyday living story are not able to be advised in this article, but suffice to state that if he experienced not acted with energetic, one-minded devotion to what he considered was vital, Massachusetts would not have handed the very first obligatory schooling legislation in 1852. New York followed the adhering to year and by 1918 all American kids ended up necessary to at least attend elementary school. What followed was the nothing at all much less than the profitable pursuit of anything shared in widespread by Freemasonry and America’s Founding Fathers: equality.
At the convert of the twentieth century educational facilities in the South, as nicely as lots of in the north ended up segregated. In 1896, in a case entitled Plessy v. Ferguson, the United States Supreme Courtroom ruled that segregation was lawful – a determination that would be overturned decades afterwards in the 1954 Supreme Courtroom determination in Brown v. The Board of Schooling of Topeka Kansas. What was at concern in 1954 and made a decision after and for all time was the best that all gentlemen are created equivalent under the eyes of the Supreme Architect of the Universe – at least when it arrives to the question of equivalent access to schooling. It definitely arrives as no shock that the Chief Justice in 1954 was Earl Warren who, like Horace Mann, was a Mason. From that year forward all Community Colleges have been open up to kids of all ethnic backgrounds.
Among 1896 and 1954, Masons during The usa led the charge for the progression of enlightenment with its clarion simply call for the guidance of Community Colleges. It is neither ironic nor wholly shocking that the very first time the Historical & Acknowledged Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, whose see is at Charleston, North Carolina, ventured out into the entire world of group provider was to even more the result in of Community Colleges. Substantially gratitude is owed to the Grand Commander at the time, George F. Moore, for his uncompromising management in that undertaking.
Prior to getting elected Grand Commander in 1914 by the Supreme Council, Moore – a prolific writer – auditioned his Masonic placement in favor of Community Colleges in this kind of publications as The New Age – a predecessor to modern Scottish Rite Journal. His tries, made prior to the onset of Entire world War I, ended up nicely received everywhere – which include in New York which was prompted by gentlemen this kind of as Moore, as nicely as organizations this kind of as the Scottish Rite to move it is really obligatory schooling legislation in 1918. In the several years soon after Moore experienced handed his elected placement as Grand Commander on to John Cowles, the Scottish Rite grew to become regarded during The usa as the excellent promoter of nationwide literacy by the auspices of Community Colleges.
California Masons ended up no much less energetic in their guidance of Community Colleges. In 1920 Charles A. Adams, Grand Master of Masons in California made Community Colleges a Masonic project for the very first time. The requires for manpower made upon the populace by Entire world War I led to the flight of thousands of instructors from their classrooms. Additional essential jobs awaited them: overcome overseas, attending to farmlands to increase the meals vital to sustain a having difficulties country, and production factories that experienced to fulfill at any time escalating requires for the output and supply of war materiel. Grand Master Adams witnessed the accompanying fallout with excellent alarm. Roughly 600 educational facilities ended up closed during California – an extraordinary number for that time.
Whilst Freemasonry has consistently refrained from engaging in or having sides in the entire world of public politics, Grand Master Adams prudently weighed the positive aspects and shortcomings of undertaking so on behalf of Community Colleges. At its core, Masonry experienced always inculcated in its associates the great importance of pursuing know-how. Its ritual sought to impress upon candidates for Masonic degrees the great importance of studying the liberal arts and sciences, this kind of as grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, audio, astronomy and geometry. And the really notion about the institution of Community Colleges during the country seemingly originated with our very first President – and one of Freemasonry’s most well known associates. In a letter to his Vice President, John Adams, George Washington wrote:
“Intelligent and considered modes of schooling, patronized and supported by communities, will draw with each other the sons of the loaded and the very poor, among whom it makes no distinction it will cultivate organic genius, elevate the soul, excite laudable emulation to excel in know-how, piety, and benevolence and finally it will reward its patrons and benefactors by shedding its benign influence on the public thoughts.”
There was supplemental Masonic precedence for Grand Master Adams to draw upon prior to deciding what to do. De Witt Clinton, who served as Grand Master of Masons in New York, as nicely as Governor of that state, embraced the result in of Community Colleges so emphatically that he is regarded right now as the “Father of New York Community Colleges.” When serving as Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin brazenly endorsed the adoption of Community Colleges in that state.
With that heritage and precedent to guidance him, Grand Master Adams decided that California Masons should get a public stance in guidance of strengthening the Community Colleges method in this state. He understood that Masonry experienced a extensive-standing perception that public schooling was important to sustaining a cost-free modern society. Indeed, Masonic virtues promoted a idea that went considerably over and above encouraging the mere accumulation of know-how: equivalent access to know-how promotes freedom and strengthens the center course without having which democratic ideas essential to this Republic will wither absent and eventually disappear. On these grounds it was quick for Grand Master Adams on August 30, 1920 to concern the very first Masonic Community Colleges 7 days Proclamation.
The heritage of Masonry’s guidance of Community Colleges did not conclusion there. That guidance has ongoing because then in every single Masonic jurisdiction, but was probably most profoundly shown by the continuing nationwide perform by the Scottish Rite. For case in point, seizing upon the illustrations set by Grand Commanders Moore and Cowles – that freedom is the most major blessing any man can get pleasure from – Brook Hays, a 30-Third diploma Scottish Rite Mason and Arkansas congressman practically sacrificed his political profession for Community Colleges.
A lay-preacher and previous president of the Southern Baptist Conference, Hays also took a stand in opposition to lots of of his Southern Baptist cronies by top the public charge in opposition to Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who opposed offering public schooling equally to all races. Owing to Hays’ bravery and persistence, President Dwight D. Eisenhower purchased the Arkansas Countrywide Guard to go into action. By his command they advanced into that state and restored obedience to the new legislation of the land – Brown v. The Board of Schooling of Topeka, Kansas – and thereby endlessly joined all of The usa and Freemasonry to a determination to a cost-free public schooling for all folks.
In 1985 when Fred Kleinknecht was elected to serve as Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Community Colleges ended up under assault by numerous religious organizations bent upon wresting manage of schooling from the hands of a secular public. Two Masonic values ended up under attack: the freedom of faith and the appropriate of all folks to a cost-free public schooling. Kleinknecht was decided to continue on the perform of his predecessor, Henry Clausen, to continue to keep faith separate from the state – the one and only specified way to protect against the tyranny of theocratic doctrine. Grand Commander Kleinknecht would endlessly be dogged for the duration of his tenure by religious fundamentalists who eventually turned their ire specifically in opposition to Masonry – an ire that to this working day has not entirely abated.
It failed to help Kleinknecht’s placement in the eyes of his persistent detractors that Clausen experienced beforehand taken a agency public stance in opposition to prayer in Community Colleges even though serving as Grand Commander. To these fervently pressing for inclusion of prayer in Community Colleges, Clausen’s stance was seen as emblematic of all that is improper with Masonry. The outcome has been a ongoing and unrelenting effort to discredit the Craft and its associates. It is no shock that the assault by some powerful forces upon Community Colleges has also increased and poses a risk to a bedrock of human freedom.
Right now our Community Colleges are operated at the state amount by departments of schooling, and locally by school districts, as nicely as publicly elected or appointed officials. By one estimate there are around fifteen,000 this kind of school districts working during the country. Most are supervised and operate by person counties. Mainly because there is little federal oversight, curricula differs from state to state – a simple fact that has prompted some to opine that larger coordination or centralization would even out the present disparities among the states in university student overall performance.
When literacy rates among students at all amounts in elementary school are probably the most essential concern for Masons to concentration upon, it is equally essential to have an understanding of why some outspoken critics of Community Colleges blame very poor overall performance upon the method and its instructors, but give little credit history to possibly when students conduct nicely. The maxim “stick to the revenue” is specially appropriate.
1st, Community Colleges are funded by tax monies compensated by taxpaying citizens. No one likes spending taxes and when they are questioned to pay back far more than they have in the past, lots of folks place fingers of blame at meant inefficiencies in the method.
Assets taxes pay back for most of the price of Community Colleges. Whilst some monies flow into the method from mothers and fathers, non-public fundraising, as nicely as federal, state and area governments, it remains these taxes which comprise the lion’s share of funding. In California, a so-referred to as “taxpayer revolt” and nicely-financed political marketing campaign led to the passage of anything referred to as “The People’s Initiative to Restrict Assets Taxation.” When the gains and harm of that legislation can endlessly be debated, one simple fact about Community Colleges is over and above discussion: because the 1960’s when California educational facilities ended up very ranked among the nation’s Community Colleges, there has been a continual drop because The People’s Initiative was made legislation. Right now the state’s Community College students now rank 48th out of fifty states in lots of surveys about university student accomplishment.
For Masonry the challenge is not about endorsing or opposing greater taxes, or even to undertake a placement in that emotionally-billed discussion. Fairly, the challenge is to fully comprehend the forces at perform for and in opposition to Community Colleges. Our dialogue is not about no matter if to guidance Community Colleges – it is about how very best Masonry can do so. Consequently it is important for Masons to engage in a dispassionate dialogue about Community Colleges without having finding drawn into the politics that never ever seem considerably absent. Maybe the discussion board our Craft offers, devoid of political ambition, is the very best discussion board in which that dialogue can get put.
On April one, 2011, the California Grand Lodge will “kick-off” its strategic prepare to make a profound big difference in public schooling. Celebrations up and down the state will get put at numerous Community College websites meant to connect obviously and really publicly that Masonry intends to perform for the progression of Community Colleges. It intends to do so for the reason that a effective, educated center course is essential to the perpetuation of a cost-free modern society. Enlightened folks will not easily relinquish the freedoms very first proven by the Founding Fathers.
There is essential perform remaining to be performed by California Masons. A kick-off celebration without having anything of substance to stick to is little far more than a exhibit – not an effort to make a profound big difference. Community school advisory councils drawing upon the talents and means of Masons in their geographical boundaries consisting of a blend of age groups to focus on and come to a decision upon ways to apply the Grand Lodge’s strategic prepare maintain out substantially assure for achievements. Masonry is at its very best when it coordinates its lodges into a power for fantastic. The advisory councils can be this kind of a power.
Equally essential, public school advisory councils present an prospect to California Masons that may not or else exist: the prospect to engage associates who are searching for anything meaningful with which to make a personal determination. As they progress by the numerous phases of initiation, from the 1st to the Third Diploma, Masons foresee finding out about how they can be a section of anything that adjustments modern society – and adjustments it positively. Our fraternal guidance of Community Colleges offers the Craft a fantastic, probably a after-in-a-life time possibility to place Masons to perform to apply Masonic values committed to the hope that freedom will always prevail and that the pursuit of know-how will endlessly be available to the loaded and the very poor, the large and the reduced – to all regardless of station in everyday living.