Catholic School

The author of one of my regular-read blogs made a post yesterday about how she is kind of conflicted about the Jesus dogma her young boys are learning at Catholic school, because she herself is a lapsed Catholic and no longer blindly buys into the Jesus lore. She was wondering how to balance her desire to have them learn the religion and know its stories, with the desire to let them know that they are free to make up their own minds. I get that completely.

But then, a few people flamed her for choosing Catholic school when she isn’t a believer. And she felt the need, when talking about her choice for her sons, to say that she thinks Catholic schools provide a higher caliber education than public schools.

This is one attitude that I find really prevalent among suburbia, at least in our city, and man, does it ever rub me the wrong way. Obviously I have a personal slant here, as my kids go to public school and I don’t want to believe that they are getting an inferior education in any way. But I honestly do not believe that the Catholic school board is providing better educations simply because its teachers, staff, and all the other students happen to be of the same religion. Does this mean they teach math or science or music any better? No, it does not.

I’ve definitely run into this opinion before — that Catholic school is a step up from public school, that it’s kind of a halfway point between public and private. I hate to think that people will look at our kids and think that that A that they earned in school just isn’t as good as an A from a Catholic school, that they didn’t need to work as hard, that they were taught some sort of easier version of the subject. Grrrrr!!

I have a few friends who are in a similar boat — they don’t go to church any more and don’t really consider themselves Catholic, but they chose Catholic school for their kids because it’s “better” in some nebulous way that is really, really insulting to those of us who choose public school. If you want your kids to go to Catholic school to learn about Catholicism and be in an environment where it’s okay to talk about and learn about God, then I can get that, I understand that. But don’t go telling me that your kids’ school is better than my kids’ school, simply because it is a Catholic school.

I have to say I have pretty big problems with the whole idea of a publicly funded school system that caters to only one religion in the first place, but I’ve ranted enough about the subject to get it out of my system so I’ll shut up now.

Just to close: I like my kids’ school, it’s a good school, and everyone who says otherwise can suck it.

11 thoughts on “Catholic School

  1. smokingtoaster

    Is the belief that Catholic schools provide a better education based on anything concrete? Like test scores, or university performance?

    I only went to Catholic school for kindergarten, and then I went to public school. My brother went to Catholic school for grades 7 and 8, and although he’s never really talked about it, I suspect it was not a good environment. The kids were really mean (to students and teachers), and at their confirmation (a major rite of passage for Catholic teens), the priest’s speech was all about how these kids had to change their ways. At the end of the school year the parents had a meeting to try and figure out what to do about these kids, but we could pass on it, since my brother went back to public school for high school.

    Anyway, I remember our Catholic friends’ parents had this idea that Catholic schools were better because you got less exposed to bad behaviour, drugs, sex, etc. I don’t think this was actually true, given how many pregnant girls there were at the local girls Catholic high school. I don’t remember the parents feeling that the level of education was actually higher, though.

    Having been raised Catholic, there’s no way I could send my kid to Catholic school. I also agree that public funding of a religious-based school system seems wrong.

  2. hardcormier

    I’m not sure the popular opinion is that the Catholic school teachers are any better, it’s just that for some reason lots of Catholic high schools seem to have been built more recently, which creates the impression that they are better funded overall.

  3. mr_hand

    I wonder if the parents who think Catholic schools are better went to these schools themselves? Maybe that’s why they think that, because it would make sense that they’d want to think whatever they did was better.

    But you know, people hold onto all kinds of strange opinions, for even strangers reasons. Maybe their parents always said Catholic schools are better, so now they think the same thing because that’s how they were raised.

    Or maybe they had a horrible experience in their public school, so they want their kids to have a different experience.

    Or maybe they stood in a puddle of water and plugged in the toaster and had an electricity-induced religious experience that told them Catholic schools are better.

    Or maybe one parent is having an affair with a Catholic school teacher, and that’s why they want their kids to go there: weekly parent-teacher meetings at the Days Inn.

    Or maybe they have a pervy thing about Catholic school girl kilts and want to oggle their kids’ friends.

    Who knows?

    Most people are stupid. They think stupid things, and then sometimes have the stupidity to say them out loud.

    As a wise man once said to me: don’t let the assholes get you down.

  4. fame_throwa

    I know that Catholic schools are privately funded (right?), so could that mean the teachers are paid more, which means there is more competition for the spots, which means the teachers could be the cream of the crop? Just a while, unfounded theory, but the only one I could think of as a possibility.

  5. capnplanet

    Let’s just say I’ve swung a little farther away from religion than has your friend who ‘no longer blindly buys into the Jesus lore’. <rant>I absolutely could not stomach giving my child an education that had any kind of religious agenda attached to it, no matter how good it was. The damage inflicted by the propaganda would outweigh any additional value the purportedly better education would have.</rant>

  6. turtle_head

    Actually, one of our major beefs is that the Catholic schools are publicly funded. Taxes collected for school use are split between the two boards. If you care, you can indicate on your property tax bill whether you would like your taxes diverted to the Catholic school board or the public school board. Otherwise I guess they just split it evenly.

    Ontario is one of the few places in the world that has public funding for a school system that is specifically for one religion. We have actually been condemned for this by the United Nations. Since it is really, really too late to remove funding for a whole school system here, their recommended solution to us is to provide public funding for other special-interest religious schools, which you may know, was the major reason the Conservatives were soundly defeated in the last election (they wanted to finally provide such funding after 10 years of condemnations from the UN).

    Also, all staff at Catholic schools must prove that they are Catholics to work there. My friend Andrea, who is a speech pathologist in the Catholic school system, had to provide a certificate from her church to get the job. So the teachers there are not the best candidates for the job — they are the best candidates that happened to be Catholic.

    Aaaaaand, I’m ranting again. I’ll shut up now.

  7. turtle_head

    I was wondering that too, about the stats. If I get some time later, I’ll look it up.

    I must admit I have heard stories going either way. One of my cousins was having trouble in the public school system, so my aunt sent her to Catholic school, where she did better and got better grades. But my cleaning lady, who is very very Catholic, just pulled both her kids from their respective Catholic schools because they were (according to her) very rough environments with low quality teachers. She’s very happy with the new public schools (also the schools where our kids go/will go, so I’m glad to hear it).

    I think really it depends on the individual school — you can’t make a sweeping judgment across the board.

  8. turtle_head

    It is definitely true that for every public school in our neighbourhood (which all have like, 17 portables), there seems to be two Catholic schools going up. I’m surprised there is so much demand, but as I say, a lot of people around here seem to want their kids to go to Catholic school because it’s a so-called “better” education. Hm.

  9. turtle_head

    I agree, and also, I think that the mixture of cultures and religions available in public school gives our kids a great opportunity to develop healthy attitudes towards others. My public school growing up was a real mixed bag of cultures and races and I think that’s why I don’t have the same attitudes towards race (discussed previously in my blog) as my parents and grandparents. It’s important to be open and accepting of all ideas, and to know that there’s more out there.

  10. capnplanet

    Right. What I really aspire to instill in my children is independent and critical thinking and tolerance. I seriously doubt those are high on the priority list at a Catholic school.

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