Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33
The Scottish Rite, as a friend, partner and supporter in education, demands the best for our children and our nation.
Masonry cannot cease to labor in the cause of social progress, without ceasing to be true to itself, without ceasing to be Masonry.” With those words, Albert Pike closed the chapter in Morals and Dogma relating to the Eleventh Degree. They were-and are-a challenge to every Scottish Rite Mason. What is the status of social progress, and how is the Scottish Rite working in that cause? How are we making the world better?
June, as the school year ends, is a good month in which to ask those questions. Without doubt, education, in Pike’s thinking, was a primary engine of social progress. As a teacher, Pike knew the great power of education to make life better for everyone in a society. He believed that almost all social progress was a function of education. It encouraged and allowed the oppressed to regain their freedom from the oppressor. It improved government as better-educated voters demanded better, more responsive and more compassionate service from their courts and legislatures. It would, he wrote, improve society, as an educated population began to understand that crime, violence, and poverty were problems to be solved and not simply facts of life to be endured.
Now, as high school seniors across the nation prepare to take their diplomas and enter the larger worlds of work or college, it is appropriate to ask how well the public schools have met that great challenge and what the Scottish Rite is doing to help. The report card is mixed. Without doubt, there are many schools which have met the challenge. Here and there across the United States are schools which expect and receive the highest standards of excellence from their students. Whether the future paths of those students lead to higher education or to productive careers in the work force, they are bright, motivated men and women who have learned how to think critically, to find and use information, and to plan for the future.
But here and there across the United States are schools where the prospects for the future are far from bright-schools where a majority of graduates can barely read or think critically. What is the Scottish Rite doing to further the cause of social progress by strengthening public education?
Perhaps most visibly and importantly, our Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs identify, diagnose, and treat children with language and learning problems, handicaps which limit their success. We know that children who have trouble reading and communicating usually drop out of school. Even if they graduate, they are not able to take advantage of their full educational opportunities. The diagnosis and treatment of these children may well be the most important steps any institution can do to assure a better future for our nation.
We offer scholarships in many different areas, both at the Valley and The Supreme Council level. These scholarships not only serve as an incentive for the students to do better, but they also allow our nation to increase its pool of talent from which we draw the doctors, the engineers, the teachers, and the leaders of the future. A special Scottish Rite scholarship program helps school administrators further their education and gain more experience. Nothing so surely turns around a poor school as a dedicated and talented administration and faculty.
We encourage our members, through the great lessons taught by the Rite, to be active and involved in the problems of their communities and especially their public schools. Often the decay of a school is stopped only when citizens rise and demand that the thugs and gangs be thrown out, that those who sell drugs on school grounds be arrested, and that decency and order be restored.
In short, we support excellence in public education with treatment for learning problems, with financial assistance, and with moral leadership which refuses to compromise with barbarism or mediocrity.
The school year has ended, the next one will soon begin,
and the Scottish Rite will be there-as friend, supporter, and partner-demanding
the best for our children and our nation. As Masons, we will secure the