Our country's most important contributions to civilization are free, universal, common public schools and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. These two peculiarly American inventions form the backbone of our pluralistic, democratic society, insuring a degree of religious freedom, social harmony and mobility, and popular education found nowhere else.
In much of the rest of the world, state-subsidized private schools "compete," for lack of a more appropriate word, with public schools, which generally means state subsidization of the separation of children along religious and/or class lines (Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands provide good examples of this). In much of the world, public schools are used for sectarian religious or ideological indoctrination, prefer some religions over others, or are hostile to all religions. In few countries are citizens, especially children, free from government intrusion into their personal religious lives.
While we live in no Utopia, we can be proud of our country's accomplishments in the areas of education and religious freedom. Yet there are well-organized special interests actively seeking to undermine public education and church-state separation by obtaining federal and/or state tax support for nonpublic schools and by moving public education away from the position of religious neutrality demanded by the pluralistic nature of our society and by the United States Constitution.
"School, Church, and State Reconsidered,"
Education and Culture:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/eandc/vol03/iss1/art2