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Poor children should have opportunity to benefit from Catholic schools



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Poor children should have opportunity to benefit from Catholic schools

EDITOR:

I love the way your editorial glides over the problems with public school education in the inner cities of this nation. The school system in Cleveland "is not doing the job it did 50 years ago." Public school education in the large cities of the United States is horrific. Period. Your editorial was so biased I thought I was reading a polemic from People For The American Way.

Most families receiving the vouchers (in Cleveland) have chosen (a key word choice -- imagine giving poor people a choice) Catholic schools for their children to attend. Most of those choosing to send their children to Catholic schools are not Catholic. At least that is my understanding.

Suburban public schools in the Cleveland area were invited to participate in the voucher program; however, none chose to do so. That may say not only volumes about the limited nature of the educational debate today but also how likely it is that the debate over education can constructively involve suburban school districts anywhere in the nation.

A brief note on Catholic schools is in order. The foremost authority on education (that I know) was the late Dr. James S. Coleman. As Richard D. Kahlenberg writes in The Public Interest (Summer, 2001): "A lifetime of study convinced Coleman that one reason that Catholic schools do so well with children in our large cities was the result of (their) attending school with 'peers from more economically advantaged backgrounds.' But it was not just that; Coleman found a 'residual effect above and beyond this factor.' He concluded that the Catholic schools' emphasis on 'high standards, better discipline, and greater parental involvement better served the goal of raising the achievement of low-income children.'" Coleman later developed this concept into what he argued was the importance of "social capital." This can stem from within families, but what was striking about the Catholic example was the "adult community surrounding the school" provided support to students.

As a non-Catholic, I am willing to let some money go to vouchers at the very least as a "rescue" mission for a few children in our inner cities.

RICHARD R. THOMPSON

Ellwood City

Better to teach teens to resist peer pressure

EDITOR:

I am writing in response to Ellen Goodman's column "Louisiana crosses church, state line"

Goodman claims that parents don't want to cope with pregnant teens and favor condoms. So in other words, parents and schools are "pressuring" teens into using condoms rather than teaching teens to resist "peer pressure." Parents and schools need to be consistent in their messages to teens.

Teaching so-called "safe sex" sends a false message to teen-agers. What's to stop teens from "also" using drugs and alcohol? It's just as easy to do the one, as it is " to do the other." And most likely, teens are under the illusion that drugs and alcohol can be done safely. If 70 percent of teens have had intercourse, then I dare say 70 percent of teens have also used drugs and alcohol.

Chastity programs put the thinking of teens straight concerning sexuality and the dangers of their behavior. "Tough Love" rather than succumbing to the delinquency of minors -- no mixed messages.

The separation of church and state is meant to protect an individuals' personal faith. It's not meant to be license for immoral or atheistic beliefs. The United States was originally put under God so that not even the highest court in the land could change truths concerning life, liberty, and justice.

SYLVIA KOCZWARA

Boardman




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