I love Steve Kellmeyer's blog over at The Fifth Column. He says some hard, unpopular things that just need to be said. This past week he did it twice!
Here are two highlights that stood out for me:
Theological: "Catholic" Schools Aren't Catholic
* Loss of trivium and quadrivium (the classical education), means loss of Catholic identity,
* Most schools and parishes violate the Catholic principle of subsidiarity in sacramental education by removing sacramental instruction almost entirely from the parents' shoulders,
* Virtually no "Catholic" school adheres to the Vatican documents on Catholic education.
* Teachers are not restricted to actively practicing Catholics, but to whoever will take the pay.
* Children are not segregated along baptismal or belief status, nor according to sex.
* The curriculum is not permeated by Catholic viewpoint, it uses texts, teachers and teaching philosophy identical to that of secular schools.
* The Catholic Church now runs a string of private schools that are Catholic primarily in label, not content.
Like the seminaries before them, Catholic parochial schools are collapsing. To the extent that Catholic bishops realize all of this, most of them can't say any of it out loud because their flock doesn't want to hear it.
In numerous documents and public statements, the Vatican has made clear that only the family guarantees authentic education in values.
Obviously, the Catholic school does not guarantee an authentic education in values. Thus, in order to maintain Catholic education while keeping in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, diocesan money should not go to schools, but directly to families. By subsidizing family homeschooling efforts, the family is strengthened.
The "social values" bishops should be all over this, right? I mean, they're always up in arms about a minimum wage, and putting money into direct subsidies. So put your money where your mouths are, gentlemen. Send money from the collection basket directly back to the Catholic families that homeschool.
"But the parents aren't qualified!" some of you may be shouting. Yes, I'm sure. But take a look at who is teaching theology in many of the Catholic schools around the nation. Certainly it isn't people with theology degrees. Indeed, often-times it isn't even a practicing Catholic who is given the task of teaching the Catholic Faith.
Besides which, when parents do the educating, qualifications stop making a difference. The most recent study of over 11,000 homeschooled students from around the nation shows that the homeschool provides 74% better educational outcomes then public schools, but at a cost of less than $500 per pupil per year (versus in excess of $10,000 per pupil for public schools). This improvement in outcome comes without regard to the number of college degrees the parents might hold and without regard to the household income.
In short, when parents teach their own children, both parties are so motivated that the usual measures for predicting academic success no longer apply. Family income, minority status, college education and certification, all of that is simply not relevant. I think it may have something to do with that whole "love" thing, but that's just an uninformed hunch.
In any case, if we give each homeschooling family a per child subsidy of $1000 per year, it would be generous according to their needs, but only one-fourth the cost of teaching that same child inside of a school whose grounds and staff must be maintained in the style to which they have become accustomed.
In short, the size of Catholic schooling across the nation could be increased four-fold without one dollar of additional expenditure, but with a nearly 75% jump in educational outcomes.
"But we need to simply support our Catholic parochial schools!" you might respond.
For the record, I am NOT anti-Catholic school. But I am highly skeptical of Catholic schools. My own education from 3-12 in the Catholic School system almost caused me to lose my Catholic Faith. Mr. Pete feels the same. Of course we had the misfortune of being in school right after the Vatican II when religious instruction became a joke. And yet whenever I have entertained the idea of someday putting my kids in the Catholic schools something changes my mind. The first time was about five or six years ago when I heard about some of the angst the female jr. high confirmation candidates expressed at a retreat because they had felt obligated to perform sex acts at a class party. I kid you not. More recently a mom told me that one of the pitfalls of letting her daughter attend the local Catholic high school was hearing the other Catholic girls refer to each other as sluts and whores. As in, "Hi Susan, you slut!" Heck, kids can attend the local public schools for that type of experience - for free!
I like Steve's idea of giving Catholic parents $1000 for religious materials. I could get a lot of good Catholic materials around here for $1000.Doubt it will happen though.
I have been finding all kinds of old holy cards in my mom's stuff. Here are some.
This is the prayer card for my great-grandfather!
Oh... and the usual "Catholics are in the church of the devil, if only they would open their eyes etc." type of discussion going on here.