Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Child Cries Over Snow Day!

When the announcement came last night that school was canceled today, my daughter burst into tears. What a testament to Catholic Schools Week.

A+ for America -- that's the slogan for this year's celebration of Catholic education.

We have a good public education system in Omaha. The principal of Central High School lives right across the street. My aunt, Bonnie Pryor, a legendary educator as a teacher and principal at St. Cecilia's Elementary for more than 50 years, constantly stood up for public schools and pointed out the special challenges they face.

But my children are in Catholic schools.

Like most children, my 9-year-old 4th grader normally would be willing a blizzard from the sky to produce a snow day. But, she said through her tears, tomorrow is Spirit Day. The kids get to wear red, white, and blue -- which means getting out of uniform!

Now she's worried about Wednesday, which is pajama day -- you get to wear PJs to school! Thursday, 8th graders from schools throughout the Omaha archdiocese come bearing school banners to St. Cecilia's Cathedral for the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass. Friday is the annual 8th graders-versus-teachers volleyball game. And there are other funzies and treats plugged in during the week.

Academically, it may be the least productive week of the year. That's OK. The students, teachers, and staff more than make up for it the rest of the year.

I submit that the Catholic school is the most "American" school in existence in the 21st century. There used to be little difference between a Catholic school and a public school except for the religious overlay at the Catholic school. Now the public schools, as government-run schools, are so tangled up in political correctness and social agendas and government mandates unrelated to learning that they can barely function, even with the huge amount of tax dollars poured into them.

As the public school becomes a nonjudgmental morass in which toleration means no values are promoted, the virtues of American citizenship -- concern for neighbor and common good, striving for excellence, enforcement of discipline, learning how to compete in way that produces winners and losers but ennobles all who participate -- remain at the core of Catholic education.

A good student can get into honors courses at a public school and get topflight academic training. But the world can blow people around -- adults as well children. I want my children to have a moral center that does not shift with the prevailing cultural wind.

Click here for a recent column about Catholic schools published in the Omaha World-Herald.


Anonymous said...

Chip -

My 4 kids have all attended Catholic grade school and high school and I have to agree with you completely. At our school, we once had school even though the weather was worse than thought. On a normal school day, the absentee rate would have been quite high; however, since it was pajama day during Catholic Schools Week, we had near perfect attendence in the kindegarten class. It always and is the highlight of the school year for my kids who are still in school.

Fr. Mark McKercher said...

Well said!