The other week a friend was sharing in a private discussion group about how her child was being bullied over at the local public school. She asked for advice and prayers, then added, “I’m hoping we can get financial aid for Catholic school for next year.”
That comment caused another member of the group to say, “You know, it was at Catholic school that I was bullied all those years. I begged my parents to take me out, but they wouldn’t.”
About that same time, another friend, in a completely different conversation, shared how he’d been teased and ostracized during his long years in Catholic school. Just because there’s a Jesus-stamp on it doesn’t mean the school is good for your child.
But then again, just because you have bad memories of St. Malicious doesn’t mean every other Catholic school in the nation is a pit of depravity — it doesn’t even mean St. M’s is still the same place it was last time you checked. As I wrote over at the Conspiracy about our first semester in parochial school:
The administration actively works to promote kindness and encouragement among the students.
Recently on the drive into town my daughter told me she had to write a persuasive paper, and she had chosen the topic of whether there ought to be school uniforms. She asked my opinion, and I gave her the long list of reasons mothers love uniforms (thank you, school, for a simple, stain-resistant, affordable set of uniform options). I finished up by adding, “And that way, for example, a mean girl can’t say oh your skirt is so ugly, because she’s wearing the same skirt.”
To which my daughter replied: “Mom. This is St. Urban’s. We don’t have bullies. The worst thing that happened is that Scholastica wanted to play with Benedicta at recess but not Ignatia, and then they all ended up playing together anyway.”
Not every school is the same. Because St. Urban’s has been around for years (this week’s school history lesson: Let’s talk about that time Sherman burned the school down), I’ve heard both good and bad going back decades.
My daughter isn’t being educated in 1984 or 2004, she’s being educated today. She’s not sitting in a desk at Our Lady of the Insurrection or St. Pretensius, she’s sitting at the school that serves our parish. What matters is: What is my school like today?
Related: Simcha Fisher on Fear-Based Schooling
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia [Public Domain.] From the photo description: “A Jesuit priest and several Ursuline nuns survey the ruins of the boys’ school and dormitory at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade, Montana.” Apparently the poses for Catholic newspapers go back a century-and-some. Everyone Get in a Semi-Circle and Gaze at the Same Object just never goes out of style.