VIRGIL C. BLUM, S.J. CENTER FOR PARENTAL FREEDOM IN EDUCATION

Administrative History:  The Blum Center opened in July 1992 as a clearinghouse of information and advice for educational reform advocates trying to implement school choice programs in the United States. The Center was founded by Dr. Quentin L. Quade, Raynor Professor of Political Science and former Executive Vice-President of Marquette University. Although the Blum Center was affiliated with the University and maintained its office on the Marquette campus, it relied on private sources for funding, particularly The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Center was named after Rev. Virgil Blum, S.J., (1913-1990), a Marquette professor of political science and a pioneer in the movement for parental choice in education.

Dr. Quade began planning for the Blum Center in 1991. The basic functions of the Center included: (1) gathering and disseminating information about school choice and the efforts to implement it; (2) publishing literature designed to aid school choice advocates, especially in refuting the arguments of anti-choice critics; (3) facilitating communication among constituencies inclined to support school choice; and (4) providing advice and feedback on efforts to pass legislation within individual states.

The Blum Center communicated with school choice advocates throughout the United States, and it maintained an extensive Information Library. The Library's holdings were indexed and made available to reformers. From 1993-1999 the Center published and distributed a monthly newsletter: Educational Freedom Report.  Although the Blum Center's focus was national in scope, it was especially involved in Wisconsin's school choice movement. Dr. Quade served as an advisor to Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist in his effort to expand the city's Parental Choice program.

Dr. Quade directed the Blum Center until his death in January 1999. He was succeeded by David Urbanski who had previously served as assistant director. A loss of funding led to the Blum Center's closing in August 1999.

Directors:
David D. Urbanski (acting directory), 1999
Dr. Quentin L. Quade, 1992-1999

Restrictions:  Access to these records is unrestricted. However, the researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright which may be involved in the use of these records. Consult an archivist for further information.

Scope and Content:  The collection documents the functions of the Blum Center. It contains correspondence, mostly outgoing, between the Center's director and various school choice advocates (Series 1). Notable recipients include Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, economist Milton Friedman, and sociologist James Coleman. Information about the Center's funding sources and its relationship to Marquette University can be found in this correspondence.

The collection also documents communication between the Blum Center and school choice advocacy groups in the individual states (Series 2). This correspondence is arranged alphabetically by state, with some international correspondence appearing at the end of the series.

The Center's Information Library constitutes the largest component within the collection (Series 3). Assembled gradually over the years, the Library contains an impressive array of articles, reports, surveys, legislative models, and newspaper editorials pertaining to parental choice in education. Users may find it helpful to consult the indexes found at the beginning of the Library (Sub-Series 3.1). Missing from the Library are all of its books and most of its videotapes: these items were not included among the material donated to Marquette's Archives. Any other items that are mentioned in the holdings index but missing from the collection are identified as such on the box and folder inventories for the individual sub-series. Dr. Quade's writings form their own sub-series within the Library (3.12). Any un-indexed materials discovered during processing were added to the Information Library's final sub-series (3.13).

The collection also contains records pertaining to an organization called Wisconsin Parents Acquiring Choice in Education (PACE) (Series 4). Established by Dr. Quade in 1993, PACE served as the Center's "action arm" for achieving actual public policy change in Wisconsin. The organization had faded away by the late 1990s.

Arrangement:  These records are arranged into four series. Series 3 is further divided into thirteen sub-series, reflecting the internal structure of the Center's Information Library.

Series 1 Director's Correspondence, 1991-1999
Series 2 State Correspondence, 1991-1999
Series 3 Information Library, 1960-1999
Series 4 Wisconsin Parents Acquiring Choice in Education (PACE), 1992-1996