CATHOLIC PewPOINT:

Let's vouch for the vouchers to restore Faith into education!

      As we continue to commemorate "Catholic Schools Week" a suggestion by the President in his state-of-the-union speech and even more so by Senator Trent Lott in the Republican's rebuttal afterwards sparked a glimmer of hope in helping turn around the Catholic education system in America. Right now, as we indicate in the first of a two-part feature on the state of the Catholic Schools system in the United States in WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM? in today's issue, federal government money has contributed to the watering down of the Catholic Faith in education because of stipulations they put on programs who accept funding and grants. These demands many bishops have agreed to and it has introduced a plethora of programs into the Catholic Schools education curriculum that contradicts the true Faith and further dilutes the product. What Sen. Lott offered are something we have long lobbied for, vouchers for parents to use in sending their children to a school of their choice. While Lott wasn't referring to Catholics specifically, we are! Whoa, you say, isn't government involvement how many Catholic schools got themselves into many of the problems they face today by allowing students of any faith to enroll? Well, yes, but that was because Catholic parents couldn't afford tuition in addition to tithing once parish-funding support had dried up. With these vouchers Catholic parents could more easily afford to send their children to Catholic schools. The schools, in turn, could begin to weed out the curriculums enforced by the Federal government and return the schools to the Catholics, reinstating a solid catechetical program and reinforcing the sacramental life of the Church in alignment with everyday life and education. True, some schools would lose the support of big money from non-Catholic parents who were sending their kids to a Catholic school because of status, but that would be balanced by more Catholic parents able to enroll their kids through the use of vouchers. Within a decade all Catholic schools could return to a total Catholic curriculum for Catholics and taught by Catholics. The statues and crucifixes could go back into the classrooms and who knows, maybe even vocations would bloom from this environment - vocations vital for the next millennium and future generations.

      True there are a lot of problems inherent with transition back to the way it used to be, and in most cases it will never return to the "good ol' days" but anything is better than what we have now in many Catholic schools. Over time we can use the government to eliminate the government influence that has choked the One, True, Holy and Catholic Faith out of so many institutions from primary to university level. With the voucher system hopefully parents can bring Catholic education back to the parish level, eliminate the diocesan interference of the ambiguous and liberal-oriented Total Catholic Education program. By vouching for vouchers it will definitely help parents to restore faith in education by restoring the Faith into education.

Michael Cain, editor

January 1998