Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Some Potential Cracks

. . . in the glacier-like movement of the debate over school choice can be found here from former D.C. mayor, Marion Barry (H/T: K-Lo at the Corner) and perhaps also here from Bill Bennett. Unusual bed-fellows? Yes. But sometimes this indicates potential for real movement on an issue.

Of course, Barry’s support for school-choice comes with a price tag: $74 million from the federal government for the 2009 school year. He says he would oppose the vouchers and scholarships if they "took money away" from public schools. So, it’s not perfect support for the principle, but it is--at least--a stronger admission of the problem and the potential for vouchers to address it.

Bennett’s point is less about school choice than it is about the decline in Catholic schools--stemming mainly from rising costs. As a result, they’re becoming something other than religious in their focus. This is a fair point, in my experience. These schools are getting so expensive (roughly $5K a year in my area) that they are becoming more like ordinary private or prep-schools--an accoutrement of the rich. And, because there are fewer religious on hand to man such operations (and this contributes to the cost), there is also little in place to counter the negative effects of such a change.

As costs rise in these schools, it’s not only those on the poorer end of the spectrum who begin to wonder if the sacrifice is worth it. As Bennett notes, parents begin to weigh questions such as value. One expects to get something more than the ordinary for $5K. And if it’s not religion and morals, then what is it? A higher quality education? Perhaps. But now that’s going to cost you. I think we may discover that religious education and high quality education are, in most instances, inexorably linked. In other words, as religion exits the religious schools there may be little there left to recommend them.

Discussions - 2 Comments

In my experience, those Catholic schools that are linked to a parish (and have its pastor as the school leader) are more likely to retain a religious atmosphere. Problem is, some schools are now stand alone. I hope that Catholic schools retain their religiousity, because it grounds the discipline and respect that are integral to the success of Catholic schools. My neighborhood public schools are academically sound, but, as my neighbor girl says, she knows that the kids, not the adults, are in charge there. She recently told me that a sub was let go at lunchtime for telling a student to re-do a paper because his handwriting was bad. That tells me everything I need to know about why I don't want my kids in that school.

Sports? In Ohio a lot of Catholic schools have great sports programs. In fact some public support for the arguments made by Democrats against vouchers would be that they would drain away the best and brightest, not necessarily academically because this is less visible to everyone in the community, but athletes...Folks get sick and tired of watching the best atheletes being drainned into the catholic and private schools, so when democrats come around and talk about brain drain to oppose vouchers, a lot of folks who have witnessed athlete drain are likely to sympathize by association. What high school did Lebron James go to? When I went down to Columbus to watch my youngest brother wrestles in State what were the names of the top three Teams in the respective Divisions? Division I St. Edwards. Division II St. Paris Division III Troy Christian. When you walked around the Schottenstein Center, what do you hear? All sorts of things...but at 30 min. intervals when fading in and out of consciousness you get snipets of conversations about how such and such a team recruited such and such a player/wrestler...and if the person listening doesn't know the particular instance he knows a similar story maybe involving football or basketball(but in wrestling communities there is less respect for that sport).

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