The current focus on the role of the state, suggests that many of the public school reformers are quite willing to ignore the history of schools within the United States. As K. Alan Snyder points out, from the time of the early colonies to the conclusion of the war between the states, private schools flourished in the United States. Today, they are an attractive alternative to parents concerned about the quality of education and discipline available at public schools. [30]

An early rationale for public schools was expressed by Horace Mann. He sought to overcome the potential for social strife by mixing the rich and poor in a public system that would instill each child with non-sectarian thinking. To the contrary, public schools have simply promoted sectarian segregation while advancing secular values hostile to those of parents. This view finds at least some support in the comments of Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, concurring in Lemon V. Kurtzman:

While the evolution of the public school system in this country marked an escape from denominational control ... it has disadvantages. The main one is that a state system may attempt to mold all students alike according to the views of the dominant group and to discourage the emergence of individual idiosyncrasies. [31]

This attempt to discourage the emergence of individual idiosyncrasies is seen by many as an attempt to isolate children from parental values. As Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer in their book Children at Risk suggest, the "campaign to isolate children from their parents .... is being waged primarily in public schools." [32]

While it is not our purpose to attack public education, we wish to point out that a system of public education can be at variance with the values of parents. Society engages in a coercive transfer of funds from parents to educators so that students can be educated in a manner inimical and hostile to the wishes and the values of those from whom the funds are coerced. While it is true that public education is based theoretically on the concept of local control, in practice, real power resides in the hands of the unelected: the centralized professional elite. This elite in general has pressed for more control, even arguing that it is above politics. [33]

On one hand, public schools claim to be neutral, subject to parental control. open to ethnic, religious, racial and ideological diversity. In practice, public schools in general advance a secular philosophy placing man at the center of all things, prevent parental control, and are operated in a racially segregated and pedagogically intolerant manner. With respect to racial segregation, for instance, public schools are becoming more segregated while private schools are growing more integrated. Indeed nationally, minorities account for 20.4% of the 1982-83 Catholic school enrollments and minority enrollments have nearly doubled in the last ten years. [34]

The private school environment in Detroit is open. It lacks administrative control. The market allows diverse schools to operate relatively free from any requirement of uniformity. Detroit's private schools allow religiously, ideologically and pedagogically diverse views to flourish and nourish the individual. Some private schools are secular, others are religious. Some emphasize Western culture while others are ethnocentric. The market welcomes diversity.

The private schools in our survey represent at least some of the pluralism which exist in the United States and in Detroit. While improved educational achievement and improved student safety are central to the success of private schools, the schools represent a diversity of goals and methods in achieving their mission. They range from a small Islamic school, Sister Clara Muhammed with 70 students, a small Afro-centric school, Nataki Talibah to modest sized East Catholic High which encourages black awareness.