2002-09-01 It is nice to think that all children rejoice at the re-opening of school

September 1, 2002

It is nice to think that all children rejoice at the re-opening of school. Experience indicates this is not universally so. My sister and niece are teachers in North Carolina where, remarkably, the schools start up at the beginning of August. A real measure of good education is the way it teaches children what to do when they are not in school. There could be no better school for all ages than the streets of New York. So the end of vacation time is just a matter of shifting from one kind of learning to another.

Our parish does not have its own school, although we have various kinds of instruction. Through the Cardinal’s Appeal and other programs, we do support the Archdiocese’s impressive educational system. More and more people are coming to realize the importance of independent schools and home schooling in reforming the present dismal state of education in our society.

Last June 27, in an important development for education reform, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to sanction school vouchers. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (www.catholicleague.org) had this to say in connection with the friend-of-the-court brief it filed:

“This is a victory for the poor that triumphed over the so-called champions of the poor. Condemned to failing public schools in Cleveland, the poor have long opted for the same equal opportunity afforded the wealthy. Now they have it.

“There were four dissenting judges, led by Justice David Souter, who still don’t get it. Souter wrote ‘There is, in any case, no way to interpret the 96.6 per-sent of current voucher money going to religious schools as reflecting a free and genuine choice by the families that apply for vouchers.’ He has it backwards: there is no free and genuine choice by families in choosing the right school for their children if they are locked in to the public-school monopoly. The fact that most parents opt for sending their kids to Catholic schools is a tribute to parochial schools and a damning indictment of public schools.

“In a nation where some judges think it is constitutional to burn the American flag on public school property, but it is unconstitutional to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this decision comes at the right time. We hope that those atheists who are at war with our religious heritage will also avail themselves of vouchers and enroll their kids in private schools run by non-believers. The sooner we empty the public schools of these people, the better.”

Fr. George W. Rutler

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