Sometimes Masons are so caught up in the mystique of the Craft and our supposed clandestine secrecy that we forget some of our very public programs for the benefit of the communities we are an integral part.

One is our cornerstone/capstone for the construction of public works buildings. The second is the subject of this article. Through our Brother, Benjamin Franklin, we Masons have been obligated to support and defend public education for the masses from the early days of American History.

His creation of the University of Pennsylvania in 1749 spearheaded a twofold program for education; free or inexpensive college for all people and a secular curriculum meant for practical careers not clergy positions.

Yes, today’s Ivy League school, Penn, started as an A & M, tech facility. This also led to a historic rift between the Craft support for public schools but not for parochial, private education at the cost of tax payers.

Historically Blue Lodges and the Scottish Rite have not been supportive of public funds being spent for private or Church or Temple academies. Clinging to Roger Williams’ tenet for the separation of Church & State, the Craft, as recently as the 1990’s, has been opposed to charter schools and vouchers as being detrimental to public schools.

I once heard a Brother Master Mason, running for political office put on the spot on a radio talk show for his support of vouchers by a very angry Masonic caller who reminded the Brother of his obligations to public education. The candidate got very silent and the interview quickly ended.

#183 has a long record of supporting our local schools especially through our backpack program and scholarship program. The scholarship initiative actually started by recognizing the top Junior Class boy & girl with a $100 bond in the 1970’s. With privacy concerns and the inability to name only 2 top students, we abandoned this give away in 1992.

With the financial matching program of Grand Lodge we do continue our scholarship awards for deserving Senior Class graduates. Many lodges in Colorado continue to recognize excellence in student achievement on their public schools nights when they honor students at all levels, elementary to middle to Senior High. Public education levels the playing field for all American Youth to be all that they can be.

Author – David Martin, THE HISTORIAN