Only Higher Education, Mr. President?: From March 11, 1961

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDYS education message to Congress contained several surprises, but none more disappointing than the statement on parochial schools:

In accordance with the clear prohibition of the Constitution, no elementary or secondary school funds are allocated for constructing church schools or paying church school teachers salaries; and thus non-public school children are rightfully not counted in determining the funds each state will receive for its public schools.

With one sentence Mr. Kennedy disposes of a problem which has vexed the best constitutional lawyers in the nation. Whos being dogmatic now?

In fairness to the President, we could hardly have expected an elaborate constitutional argument to the Congress. But in fairness to the people we could and did expect a silence respectful of the complexity of the problem and the traditional modes of constitutional adjudication. As an American, Mr. Kennedy is entitled both to hold and express his personal opinions. As a candidate, he was compelled to detail his position on Church and State. But as President of the United States, speaking to the Congress of the United States, he should avoid unnecessary pronouncements on delicate constitutional issues.
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