The hostility of the government run school bureaucracy to parental options is notorious. The Washington Post has a story today about one Maryland school system’s flippant rejection of a charter school. There are few bigger enemies of parental choice than the Montgomery County School Board and Maryland laws are some of the worst in the nation for the establishment of alternatives to the government run schools.
One reassuring alternative to the government education monopoly is the continuing strength and success of Catholic Schools. This is Catholic Schools Week and the theme this year touches on the important role they play in our nation. “A+ for America” is the theme. It promotes the contribution to America made by Catholic schools through high academic standards and daily emphasis on strong moral values.
Catholic schools are particularly important in urban areas where the government schools have become little more than epicenters of drugs and violence, where dropouts outnumber graduates. I am reminded of election coverage in Philadelphia that I did while at the U.S. Department of Justice. All day long, I was in some of the roughest schools in the city because that’s where the polling locations are. Concertina wire, graffiti, litter and decay were what I remember about these Philadelphia public schools. At some point I took a break and stopped into the St. Peter the Apostle Church in the very same rough neighborhood. There was a Catholic school next to the church. Inside, you could see neat, orderly and clean classrooms, nothing like the mayhem I had been in all day. In the basement of St. Peter the Apostle Church is the shrine to St. John Neumann where his body lies. Neumann was the father of American Catholic schools, and this week celebrates why all Americans should be thankful for his work, both Catholic and non-Catholic.