The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, had some very critical things to say about Catholic parents who choose schools based on a lack of diversity. Here’s a flavor of his remarks:
“[I] would be unhappy if Catholic secondary schools were to become mainly elitist. I hear of parents – even those who might fit into the social categorisation of ‘good Catholic parents’ – making decisions with their feet or with their four-wheel-drives to opt out of diversity in schools… Mobility is a characteristic of our times . . . But part of that mobility has been the result of parents opting out of diversity of an ethnic kind, or of diversity due to a high incidence of children with special educational needs…. [While] parents have the right to choose the school they consider best, the exercise of rights must also incorporate concern for the common good…”
I recent years, immigration has made Ireland a far more diverse country than was ever the case before. The challenge for all Catholics is to embrace this unity, and this is especially true in education. Kudos to Martin for making this point– and bonus points for his subtle dig against “four wheel drives”! But what holds true in Ireland holds true to a greater extent in the United States, a far more diverse country, with a history of unresolved racial and ethnic tensions. Among people I know with children, I see this trend all the time. Are parents right to only look to the educational advantage of their own children? Or do they have a duty to the common good too, as Martin suggests?