School Choice Movement Mourns Passing of Two Champions

Published March 1, 1999

William Bentley Ball, Legal Scholar

Distinguished constitutional scholar William Bentley Ball, a leading advocate for parental choice in education who served as counsel in 25 constitutional litigations before the U.S. Supreme Court, died on January 10 at the age of 82.

As a legal expert on church-state issues, Ball argued in support of religious freedom in education, winning many cases and establishing a solid foundation to advance the cause of parental choice in K-12 education. His cases included Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), which granted Amish parents an exemption from Wisconsin’s compulsory high school attendance law on religious liberty grounds; and Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993), which ruled that state funds could be used to pay for an interpreter for a deaf student attending a religious school.

“He was the preeminent practicing Catholic constitutional scholar in the country of the last 30 years,” noted Dr. Stephen Krason, president of the Catholic Society of Social Scientists.

“Bill never gave up,” said James Condit, chairman of Citizens for Educational Freedom (CEF) and a noted pro-school choice attorney. He called Ball “a hero who stood in the front lines of the fierce battle over the rights of parents to choose religious schools for their children without the loss of their just share of tax funds to finance their education.”

Referring to her long-time friend and colleague as “a brilliant trial lawyer and a noble Catholic gentleman,” CEF President Mae Duggan recalled working together with Ball for more than three decades “on the issue of justice and religious liberty in education.”

“He plunged into the courts to help the helpless–parents, in particular–who were denied their human right in the control of the education of their own children,” she said. “What he sought was to bring about a just and orderly society with liberty and justice for all, especially in the area of parental rights in education.”

Ball is survived by his wife, Caroline, their daughter Virginia Duncan of Etters, Pennsylvania, and his sister, Mary Ball Martinez of Mexico.

Quentin L. Quade, Political Science Scholar

Distinguished political science scholar Quentin L. Quade, director of Marquette University’s Blum Center for Parental Freedom in Education, died on January 19 at the age of 65. Author of over 100 articles and books in political science–including the 1996 book, Financing Education: The Struggle Between Governmental Monopoly and Parental Control–Quade was one of the leading intellectual advocates for parental freedom in education.

“He was the intellectual behind school choice,” Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, noting that Quade supplied key arguments used in the school choice debate and in the Wisconsin Supreme Court case. “His impact on Milwaukee and national K-12 education is profound and permanent,” Norquist added.

“He was a champion of freedom,” said Bert Thalen S.J., a colleague of Quade’s for many years at Marquette. “Existing U.S. programs in school choice would not have come about without Quentin’s brainwork.”

It was school choice pioneer Father Virgil C. Blum who first persuaded Quade to come to Marquette University in 1961. There Quade became an influential teacher–Raynor Professor of Political Science–and a highly effective administrator as Marquette’s Executive Vice-President.

Since 1993, he served as director of Marquette’s Blum Center for Parental Freedom in Education, which he established in 1992 and named after his first mentor. The Center organizes information gathered on school choice from around the country and disseminates that information in a systematized fashion, including the regular publication of The Educational Freedom Report, which Quade edited. The Center had recently developed a partnership with the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation.

“Everywhere he stepped, Dr. Quade left an unmistakable trail of solid, responsible work and genuine humanitarian concern for others,” said the Center’s managing director, David D. Urbanski, noting Quade’s manifold roles as academic, administrator, and mentor. “He was the stuff of heroes and giants,” he added.

Quade is survived by his wife, Phyllis; their four children, Zachary, Matthew, Stephanie and Leslie; his mother, Vera Stumpf of Fort Dodge, Iowa; and his sister, Geraldine Happe of St. Cloud, Minnesota.