Oregon Compulsory Education Act

Time Period
1922
Description
In 1922, following a national campaign by Scottish Rite Masons in the United States to push for compulsory public education, Oregon passed a law requiring children to attend only public schools, which would effectively shut down both religious and secular private schools. The law’s supporters, among them the Ku Klux Klan, argued that the Oregon Compulsory Education Act would serve to inculcate in children a unified sense of national character and would weaken subversive ideologies, an especial fear following World War I and in the midst of continued large-scale immigration into the country. Several religious denominations attacked the law as an unconstitutional infringement of religious liberty. After a legal battle that culminated in a 1925 case before the Supreme Court, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the law was struck down on the grounds that parents had a constitutional right to direct the course of their children’s education.
Interactive Timeline(s)
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Religious Groups
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Photographs

Teaching at school, Hermiston, Oregon- Library of Congress, LC-USF34-070543-D

Walter Pierce portrait- LIbrary of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-34366

School building, Hermiston, Oregon- Library of Congress, LC-USF34-070481-D
Source(s)
Jorgenson, Lloyd P., 1968. The Oregon School Law of 1922: Passage and Sequel. The Catholic Historical Review 54, no. 3.
Reed, G.E., 2003. Oregon School Case. Detroit: Thomson/Gale; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America.Notes: In New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, 2nd ed.: 646-650.)
Tyack, David B., 1968. The Perils of Pluralism: The Background of the Pierce Case. The American Historical Review 74, no. 1.
Web Page Contributor
William S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University

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