Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/16/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is time to move beyond rhetoric and ineffective top down federal programs and enact true educational Reform. It is time for school choice.

350,000 students are still out of school in Chicago. The Teachers Union called what the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel referred to as a "strike of choice". The Mayor did not stop there, he added "And it's the wrong choice for children." The Mayor is correct. However, the right choice is school choice.   

Striking Chicago teachers

Striking Chicago teachers

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/16/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: school choice, parental choice, education, Chicago teachers strike, Rahm Emanuel, social justice, teachers union, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHICAGO, ILL (Catholic Online) - 350,000 students are still out of school in Chicago. The Teachers Union called what the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel referred to as a "strike of choice". The Mayor did not stop there, he added "And it's the wrong choice for children." The Mayor is correct. I would add it's not the right choice for the parents and it's not the right choice if we really care about good education and the common good.

The right choice is school choice.  

Some reports on the strike have criticized the salaries Chicago public schools teachers receive and point out that teachers work 200 days out of a year. In the year 2011 the median salary was $67,974. Some take issue with the labor union leadership which called for the strike, questioning whether it truly represents the best interest of the teachers, the parents and the children.

Others have focused on the poor performance statistics in the Chicago school system - only 60% of students end up graduating. Reports more sympathetic to the strike argue that the demand for evaluation of teachers is unfair and fails to recognize the full qualities and contributions of an educator because it focuses exclusively on test scores. Polls indicate that the strike is not faring well with the public, especially with parents.

The Chicago Teachers strike points to a much bigger social and public policy concern in the United States of America. This concern should become a main topic in the upcoming Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. It is time to move beyond rhetoric and ineffective top down federal programs and enact true educational Reform. It is time for school choice.

Those who oppose such a fundamental reform have taken to calling parental or school choice an effort to "privatize" education. In fact, it is an effort to "Parentize" education, by once again affirming that that the family is the first school and first government and parents are the first teachers. They should make the choices concerning the education of their children outside of the first school of the home.

Those who support school choice call for a public policy and enabling legislation which makes it possible for all parents, no matter what their socio-economic situation, to choose where to send their children to school. In her inspiring speech at the Republican Convention, Condoleezza Rice addressed our educational crisis and commended this approach:

"Your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education. But today, today when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're going to get a good education, can I honestly say it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you're going? The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are."

"My mom was a teacher. I respect the profession. We need great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones. We have to have high standards for our kids because self-esteem comes from achievement, not from lax standards and false praise. And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly, particularly poor parents, whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools".

"This is the civil rights issue of our day. If we do anything less, we condemn generations to joblessness and hopelessness and life on the government dole. If we do anything less, we will endanger our global imperatives for competitiveness. And if we do anything less, we will tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement the turn toward entitlement and grievance."

She is correct; we need to give parents greater choice. This choice should be available for parents from among a full array of options including public, private, parochial, virtual, charter and home schools. This is why I prefer to use the term "parental choice" in education when advocating for this reform. It recognizes that parents are the first teachers and should be the ones who make the choice where to expand their teaching mission for their own children.

As a constitutional lawyer I know this can be accomplished in a constitutionally sound way by empowering parents to make this vital choice through properly drafted voucher legislation, tax credits, or opportunity scholarships.  Those who oppose school choice too often resort to scare tactics. They argue that it will detrimentally affect the public school system. Sadly, they rely on ignorance to fan the flames of their opposition to a truly just educational policy.

They claim that supporters of school choice are against public schools. That is not true. For example, this supporter of school choice grew up in the inner city of Dorchester, Massachusetts in a "blue collar" home. My parents struggled to give me the first four primary educational years in a parochial school. The remainder of my education was in a public school. They moved, at great sacrifice and hardship, to make sure it was a good public school.

Opponents act as though the currently overly federalized bloated bureaucracy called the Public School system is how education in the United States has always been. Nothing could be further from true history. Public schools were first local, community schools. School choice will return the leadership of our National educational endeavor to parents and the local community. It will also improve the public school system by ensuring that parents can choose the schools they want for their children. Competition in the delivery of goods and services has amazing results.

School Choice is not a threat to good governance. Rather, it recognizes that all government begins in the home and then applies the social ordering principle of subsidiarity. The term is derived from the Latin word "subsidium" which means help or assistance. The principle of subisdiarity is a social ordering principle which says that governance should begin at the smallest level first.

The first government is the family. All other government should provide assistance or help to that first government - and not usurp its primary role. Thus, it is a principle which favors a bottom up approach to governing and affirms the family as the first government and first school.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the right of parents to choose a school for their children, "As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise." (CCC#2229)

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the educational mission provides insights for real educational reform which promotes the common good. The primacy of marriage - and the family founded upon it - is the first cell of society, the first church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy, and the first mediating institution of  society. It should also be the polestar as we seek to build a truly just educational and public policy in the United States.

A just and efficient philosophy of government must be grounded in the recognition that the family is the first government. Further, that all other government must first be at its service. In "The Role of the Christian family in the Modern World" Blessed John Paul II called for the development of a "family politics". It is time to build such a "family politics" and that is a part of the New Catholic Action. 

The primary foundation for school choice is the recognition of the family as the first school and first vital cell of human society. Parents are the first teachers of their children. All education begins in the home. It is the right of parents to choose where their children go to school.

That choice for the parents of all children should include the full array of options, public, private, parochial, charter and home schools, no matter what their economic status. It is better for the children, better for society and more economically efficient.

Education outside of the home is an extension of the parent's primary educational mission. The family is the first school and the first government. We have forgotten that objective truth as a Nation and we are reaping the consequences. We need real educational reform in this Nation, not the rearranging of chairs on the Titanic which has masqueraded as educational reform in the past.

In an Apostolic Exhortation of Blessed John Paul II entitled "The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World" he wrote, "The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others."

In his "Letter to Families", he wrote: "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents. They share their educational mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State.

"But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the Principle of Subsidiarity. This implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit."

"For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children; especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization. Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization."

School Choice is a matter of real social justice - not what is masquerading as social justice these days. The opposition by some in the leadership of the teachers unions to educational reform shows how far some of these mediating associations have strayed from their proper social role.

School choice is right for our children, right for our parents and right for our Nation. Will school choice in the United States also improve the current state of our Catholic School system in the United States? Yes, it will. It will open up our schools as one of the many options for parents to choose from for their own children. We should welcome that both as Catholics and as good citizens.

The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For Educational Reform Through School Choice.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


The Contraceptive New York Nanny, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The idea that the government is now in the business of arm-twisting women not to have more children - immediately after childbirth - is morally obnoxious and socially disturbing. It is so apt that this is happening in a city where its mayor lusts for abortion ... continue reading


Building a culture of life: Colorado clinic takes brave stand Watch

Image of Inspired to bring their mission home to Colorado, they decided to start a natural women's health clinic that would uphold the dignity of women and give them the care they deserve.

By CNA/EWTN News

A Colorado women's health clinic seeking to offer natural care that respects human dignity has drawn praise for helping to build up a culture of life. (CNA/EWTN News) - Authentic women's care "is essential to the pro-life movement," said Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, ... continue reading


When more than 80 percent of California faces extreme drought -- the spigots remain open Watch

Image of At the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, fountains are still operating. The one change is that they turn off at mid-morning, and haven't been running full-time since the spring.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Extremely dry conditions in the state of California has 80 percent of the so-called Golden State in extreme drought conditions. Many couldn't tell the difference in many urban areas: Sprinklers go full blast on many lawns, and lots of waters goes wasted by ... continue reading


IT'S ABOUT TIME: Rick Perry deploys national guard to halt southern invasion! Watch

Image of Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border, in an effort to stem the flood of illegals that have crossed over throughout 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an effort to stem the influx of tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children that have been entering the United States illegally in 2014, Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Is Mount Rainier about to blow? A new study promises to reveal clues about an upcoming eruption Watch

Image of Mount Rainier is the tallest volcano and the fifth-highest peak in the contiguous United States, towering more than 14,400 feet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A huge magma reservoir below Mount Rainier in Washington state has been mapped by American and Norwegian researchers, which may provide subtle clues as to when the volcano will next erupt. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This huge magma reservoir was formed as ... continue reading


BUSTED: FedEx indicted on numerous counts for shipping illegal internet pharmacy drugs Watch

Image of Online pharmacies, operating beneath the radar of drug regulation, often make drugs intended for pain control and psychiatric needs available for illegal recreational purposes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Online pharmacies, operating beneath the radar of drug regulation, often make drugs intended for pain control and psychiatric needs available for illegal recreational purposes. As a result, FedEx Corp. - a trusted mail delivery system has now was indicted for ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:1-9
1 That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Bridget of Sweden
July 23: Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Upplandís Lagman, Birger ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter