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#16472 - 04/26/02 03:05 AM Religious Schools
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
> independent schools, catholic schools

Here, we don't have the same anxiety about the separation between church and state and (as discussed, elsewhere) have a lower proportion of the population who describe themselves as religious.

There are a relatively small number of independent (ie fully private) Roman Catholic schools in the UK (88 RC, cf 524 CofE out of 1271 listed [url]www.iscis.uk.net/[url]). The rest come under the banner of the state system and have to subscribe to the same National Curriculum and school inspection system as other state schools.

In England the vast majority of state-supported Roman Catholic are "voluntary aided schools", like Church of England Schools, as the state pays broadly 100% of tuition costs, 85% of external building costs. In Scotland, I think, they are fully funded.

I think that times have moved on from the "Anglela's Ashes" days of a few sadistic nuns venting their dislike of the human race on their charges. I did come across a couple of those as a schoolgirl but as post "swinging sixties" children we found them faintly anachronistic and paid them little attention. Discussions on morality and religion were wide ranging and we were encouraged to say what we thought.

In recent years, we moved around the country and I have experience of several Catholic schools. What I saw were schools with children drawn from all demoninations teaching a curriculum which left very little time for the specifics of Catholicism in a religious curriculum which was broadly Christian but included project work on all belief systems. In one English school, in particular, I remember that aspects of religious pratice had to be taught outside school time in church, not school, premises (eg preparation for First Communion). Some schools shared a sixth form (for pupils aged 17/18) with a neighbouring Church of England Schools. I had no experience of the schools operating to a different agenda than mainstream schools, they were no less racially mixed, for example. The main difference was that all parents subscribed to the view that good behaviour in school is important. This is not universal, I understand from some teacher friends that some parents give very little support on behavioural matters and that this is one of the reasons that RC and CofE schools in middle class areas tend to be over-subscribed.

I suppose the main argument against religious schools arises from the creation of a sectarian society as exists in Northern Ireland and parts of the West of Scotland. I had no personal experience of this, growing up in the North West of England, we mixed freely with children from other kinds of schools without being aware of any cultural divide. I was appalled by a recent television programme where people from both sides of the "troubles" in Northern Ireland were sent away together on a team-building week. It was the first time that some of them had made a relationship with someone from the "other side" and the first time that they were able to listen to another point of view without it coming second hand. They were amazed to discover the depth of their own lack of understanding of another point of view, which makes me wonder what on earth they are teaching in schools and churches. This seems incredably sad and must be addressed.

So, on the subject of church schools, the jury is still out for me. My personal experience of happy schools with happy non-judgemental children seems at odds with the experience in other parts of the world.

Does anyone have recent experience of RC schools in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand?

#16473 - 04/26/02 03:36 AM A divided society
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>I think the competition would make the public schools better. Maybe I am just dreaming, though!

As an antidote to my experience of education in the UK which has generally been good (partly by chance and the fact I have been lucky in where I lived). There is another side to the difficulties faced by teachers in the UK:

In some areas, competing academically is the least of the problems faced by teachers. See this report of crime by minors in Peckam, London where the trial of Damilola Taylor did not result in any convictions yesterday. There are reports that the area was controlled by a teenage mafia who describe themselves as the "untouchables". They are so well aquainted with the way that the criminal justice system works that they can be caught but rarely can any action be taken against them.

The death of Damilola Taylor prompted the police, Southwark council and the other agencies in the deprived south London area of Peckham to take a long, hard look at themselves. They were shocked by what they found.
For a start, the youth crime figures were startling. From November 2000 when Damilola died to the following November, 4,228 offences were reported in the borough of Southwark - which includes Peckham - when both victim and perpetrator were under 18. Children as young as eight were bullying or carrying out street robberies.

Little had been done to try to find out what young, disaffected youths wanted or needed. Facilities for young people in the area were inadequate. Gang culture was poorly understood. The way problem youngsters were dealt with was unsatisfactory. The various agencies - police, social services, education - were simply not pulling together.


#16474 - 04/26/02 09:58 AM Re: Level playing fields
bikermom Offline

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 96
Loc: Ohio, USA
You got that right Helen. Parochial schools are very narrow minded, and it is not just the Catholic ones. Having attented one for 9 years, I do know----Education should definitely be foremost in the schools agenda--but sadly it is not--Politics and higher salaries take first preference. And there again--the old saying applies---"It is not how much you got that counts--it is how well you use what you have"--that creates inginuity, creativity and therefore, enhances the learning experiences into one more well-rounded. ALL kids will grow up to be someone who is in charge of us over 50 generation---so it is up to us to stop the power plays and selfish attitudes and talk equality nation wide


#16475 - 04/26/02 12:24 PM Re: Kids and school
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA

Life is not fair. Harrison Bergeron should be required reading.

When public schools are not living up to their commitments, good parents have an obligation to look after their own kids first. I'm lucky. My own kids' public school is pretty good so far. But a major factor in our move to this area was the quality of schools.

The very biggest problem to education is parents who aren't involved. I do my own part plus. And I'm grateful that there are other options available to at least a few of those who are failed by their own public schools.

I think vouchers should be expanded to cover homeschoolers.


#16476 - 04/26/02 02:00 PM Re: Kids and school
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Yes, Life is not fair... and a job of democratic society, (not government!) is to help redress inequities.

i too moved to the area i live, so my children could walk to their school.. In NYC any child can go to any NYC school, provided there is room.

preference is give to local kids, but any spare seats are up for grabs by anyone.

so, some kids who live in queens, take the LI RR every morning with Mommy, and go to school a few blocks from where she works..
This makes is very easy for her to attend open school meeting, school plays, and to get to school quickly, should one of her children become ill.

School kids make up a big part of the "rush hour" commute.

its easy for us, (we tend here to be educated, and middle class-- we do all have computers or access to them) but many parents aren't.

Their income isn't sufficient to buy/rent a place to live with a nice schools (good school districts tend to have higher property values-)
There jobs often come with less (or no!) than 1 weeks paid vacation --so getting to school for activities is not easy.

In NY --and else where-- language is a barrier..parents often don't speak english, or know cultural expectations.. and (it border on racist to say) but not all cultures value education -- many do, but not all.. or they value other things more...

So a family gathering might be more important than school-- even if it on a Tuesday night.. and kids might be at a party till 10 or 11 pm.
Or a new dress or suit for a religious rite might be more important than paper, workbooks, or pencils.. so a child might not have the basic tools to do simple homework.
Or being a wife and mother might be seen as the ultimate goal for a girl-- so what does education matter?

schools teach more than the 3 R's, they also teach cultural values.. (and that is a can of worms in US, that standardized testing reflects middle class, norther european cultural values, more than other cultural values.)

Are there things wrong with some of these cultural values? yes.. but for the most part they include valuing educations, the arts (more is taught about european art than world art... but its a start), industry (and yes, this can have negative environmental effects), representative government -- more or less democratic.. (again, not always perfectly, but generally democratic) Altruism is values as well ( in some cultures, adopting children is unthinkable.. parent won't release them for adoption, and it doesn't matter cause others would never think to adopt) Civic pride is also valued
(de Toqueville made fun of it, but every little town in US has some claim to fame!)-- and towns people have organizations like the Elks, or Rotary clubs that support children's activities like little league, or they support charities, or they buy equipment for volunteer fire departments.

Other societies value family over civic/political -- Families live in enclaves, and keep everything in the family.

Carnegie (and the Rockefellers, and the Harringtons, and the Morgan's, and the Vanderbilt's, and Gugenhiems, and , and) have given billions to people of US; museums, libraries, concert halls, universities, hospitals, etc. Societies that do not value civic/political life do not generally do this..
are they bad? no, but are they what i want for my country? no. because if family are valued and political life is not, there isn't going to be anyone to run a democratic government.. and we won't have one!

so, to some degree, it doesn't matter that family A values family life... there kids still need to go to school
and family B, that want to spend their money on religious rites, go ahead.. but your child need to have the basics.. and need to attend school
and family C, guess what? we are going to educate your daughters, and your sons.. equally.

and by the way, we do also value family life, and we do value religious life, and we do values mothers and children!

Public schools are propaganda! they teach the American (or English or Ozzie, or what ever) way of life!

a failure of a public school is not just a problem for a child-- it a problem for all of us! and since they do have that public/governmental functions, governments should pay for them.. and the money should go to making sure kids share these values!

(i think of my self as a liberal.. but every once in a while, there is this streak-- that sounds down right conserative!-- beyond conservative!)

my other obsession

#16477 - 04/26/02 03:52 PM Re: Kids and school
bikermom Offline

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 96
Loc: Ohio, USA
and by the way, we do also value family life, and we do value religious life, and we do values mothers and children!

Public schools are propaganda! they teach the American (or English or Ozzie, or what ever) way of life!

>>>a failure of a public school is not just a problem for a child-- it a problem for all of us! and since they do have that public/governmental functions, governments should pay for them.. and the money should go to making sure kids share these values<<<<
Well said--I read your very long post. Are you on a school board? You should be. So once again, I think we should go back to the basics---and perhaps redefine basics. EVERY CHILD and EVERY ADULT needs the basic reading knowledge, math knowledge, speaking and writing skills. These are pretty elementary And every child WANTS to learn these. That's not the problem. But what is lacking in today's society, is caring, understanding, compromise, going the extra mile for free these create the desire and the curiousity to learn and to learn more.
I think teacher's should be paid on a national scale, so that all 1st grade--first year teachers get the same salary, and all 10th grade 15 year teachers get the same etc etc. This would eliminate teachers leaving for higher pay, even though they like the kids and the area---Perhaps this consistancy would pinpoint problem areas and/or make it easier for problems to be caught early. We are all Americans, no matter what state we live in and no matter what economic level we are in or what kind of housing we live in--in fact it is not the kids fault that some families get to live in a 200,000. house and some kids get to live in a 15,000 house or worse or perhaps even better. All the kids in the USA will be our future leaders and will either contribute or destroy their area or another area. So do we want positive contributors and leaders in the US or do we want Negative thinkers, contributors and leaders in this US-----The choice is ours and it starts with todays kids ----birth to 20 and up.


#16478 - 04/27/02 09:00 AM Re: Kids and school
Sparteye Offline

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1773
Well - look who came in from the cold! Welcome back, bikermom. Where ya been?

The national scale payment system is an intriguing idea, but there are several problems with it, beginning with the fact that schools are a state issue, and so there are at least 50 different systems for funding and regulation. Then there is the difference in the cost of living. A salary which would be luxurious in Michigan or Iowa might barely be a living wage in a large coastal city like New York or San Francisco. I think that part of the problem in some of the discussions we've had previously about teacher salaries is different perceptions of what is needed in a given economic area.

I don't know if I'm ignorant or deluded, but I have no significant complaints about the educational services provided to my children. Are there things I'd like to change if given the magic wand? Sure. But still, despite disabilities they are each learning fairly well, and are happy doing it. My older son, who is hyperactive and autistic, gets the usual academic instruction, plus physical and language therapy, and social skills training. In the summer, he attends a program - paid for by the school system, including the transportation - which maintains his social and physical skills through things like horseback riding and field trips. His art teacher is so good that three of her students in one AI class of about 8 have already had works accepted for state-wide or national exhibition.

Michigan has a voucher system, and there is a private academy available to us, indeed, it is physically nearer than the public schools, but we have no need of it because the public schools are providing as much and more than the private academy would. I suspect that I would consider the academy if my child was both academically gifted and nondisabled, and that does make me wonder at the drain on the basic level of student from the public schools, but in the end, I think that the freedom of parents to chose between the schools helps maintain the levels of all the institutions. That, indeed, is the premise underlying a competitive economy.

My biggest complaint with the school system is that second languages have not been introduced until well after the prime time for children to learn languages. When I was in school, the first opportunity to learn even a smidgeon of a foreign language was in junior high (7th or 8th grade; ages 12-13-14 for most kids). It seems that schools are exposing children to foreign languages a bit sooner now, but still, since the best years are the early years, it would be nice to start them right away through TV classes.

#16479 - 04/27/02 04:57 PM Re: Kids and school
Rouspeteur Offline

Registered: 03/10/01
Posts: 163
So many things to comment on...

1. Musick: What do you mean by, "one who has a either a lot of unresolved social issues or no *reason to develop further"

I don't know that people that go to private schools have any more unresolved issues than others and I'm not clear on what the "no reason to develop further" means.

2. of Troy wrote, "but they do want to take public money, and then not really offer to meet the publics needs.."

Actually, many private schools do not want to take money for just that reason, they do not want the government to dictate what or how they should teach beyond meeting provincial standards. As to meeting all of the public's needs, no one school can do that. Most larger cities in Canada have schools for the arts. Obviously, such a school could discriminate against a whole variety of people. They system has to meet the needs of society, every individual school cannot.

Some school boards are allowing the creation of public schools that meet particular needs. For example in Surrey, (a suburb of Vancouver, BC) a "traditional" school was set up. In this case, traditional meant desks in rows, spelling and math drills, and uniforms. The uniforms I believe were just grey pants with a green shirt. The BC Teacher's Federation said the school would be discriminatory, restrictive, cater to the more well-off, and not be progressive. Further, they said that none of there members should accept transfers to the school. Unfortunately, parents started camping out days in advance so they could register their children at this public school.

3. Bobyoungbalt wrote: "mandated tests at various levels (3rd grade, 8th grade, 11th grade, I believe) to check on the schools' performance in teaching the mandated content. This has resulted in the phenomenon of "teaching to the test". In order to have students score as high as possible, teachers, with the support (nay, the direction) of principals, spend their time teaching only what will be covered by the tests, so as to have maximum time to cram the kids for the test. Anything not expected to be on the test is rigorously excluded, as taking up valuable time for no good end.

Ontario has gone this route as well, but the idea of teaching to the test is not new. When I was in high school I wrote the American SAT's just out of curiosity. I couldn't imagine how they could be of much use. Multiple-choice tests in English and math are not the best measure of a student's ability. Do U.S. high school teachers not spend considerable amounts of time teaching to these tests? Not all such testing has to be negative, Quebec has had provincial exams for the last two years of high school since at least the 1940's (they involved both multiple-choice and essay questions). My mother said she always liked the Provincial exams because she was being marked by someone who didn't know who she was and so the mark she got was based solely on her work.

4. Several comments made about religious schools, in particular Catholic ones. This is an interesting issue in Canada because of our Constitution. Ontario typically has four school boards covering every region. They are: English and French public and English and French Separate (Catholic). This is a constitutional guarantee and cannot be changed. Other religous groups (mainly Islamic and Jewish from what I have seen) are mounting a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (think Bill of Rights) to get funding for their schools as well.

5. ewein's original question: do you think the private schools (hard, I know, to generalize) do a better job?

My answer: Yes and no. When I went to public schools I was bored out of my mind. At one point, in grade 9, my math class had 34 students, but only 30 desks. My average hovered around 60% and I failed two courses. After that I went to boarding school for the remainder of high school and averaged 80% while being required to do sports every weekday and Saturday morning. It worked for me. One of my brothers, on the other hand, hated it and couldn't wait to get out. The difficult thing is finding the approach that meets the needs of the individual and no one system can be everything to everyone.

Ewein, I have thought about this a lot because I have two toddlers. My first preference is a private school especially because they are very active boys and many public schools are very hostile to boys in that they are expected to behave like girls; I will not stand for a teacher trying to prescribe Ritalin. I enjoyed the private schools I went to and, like most parents, want to to the best possible for my children. There are no suitable private schools near us though, so our oldest will be starting at the French Catholic (public) school next year. This school has a lot of parental involvement and demanding teachers who expect parents to be involved. There is a real sense of community around the school and everyone we have talked to who has children there have sung its praises. I feel this is due in large part to the fact it requires much more effort for families to maintain their French in a sea of English.

This is the kind of school we want our children to go to, one where the staff and parents are involved and engaged. No system, public or private, has a monopoly on good or bad teaching. We will go where the quality is.

#16480 - 04/27/02 06:39 PM Re: Kids and school
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Because of the US constitutional division of state and church-- some weird things happen in US.

religious schools are exempt from many of the rules that govern public or even private non-denominational schools.

so nuns or priests, teaching in a catholic school do not have to
1) have a BA or BS.. they sometimes have as little as 2 years of college courses

2) does not ever have to pass any test, or become licenced.

3) in some circumstances (of late, in the news) is exempt from public laws governing behavior.
(priests do have graduate degrees, but not in academic subjects-- and are not required to have any specific skills in the subject they teach)

the ongoing scandel now in several cities, re: priest molesting children, has made it clear, a priest, in performing religious duties, are exempt to some degree from criminal prosocution for child molestation. They are supposed to be dealt with by the religious authorities.. in many cases, the powers that be in catholic church, decided that the church was more important than the children, and the priest went virtually unpunished
i should stop here, and say, there are two different scandels, that many news organization fail to distiguish,
1) priest who molest children (either sex) under the age of consent
2) priest who abuse power and come on to, or initiate sex with 17, 18, 19 year olds (again either sex)

the first should be turned over to civil authorities, which the church can elect to do, but by and large didn't.

the second.. something should be done, but their behaviour, while unprofessional, and offensive, is not really criminal.

getting back to schools, the exemption means nuns, can and do use corporal punishments with children, and other behaviours that would not be acceptable or legal in public schools.

Since they are really a very seperate system, they really can't be compared to such schools in canada, ireland, england, or france. There, religious schools are governed by the same laws. here in US, our government is barred from making laws that effect religious organizations. so religious schools can teach anything they want, and do not have to conform to any external standard. Many do, to some degree, but there is no requirement to teach science, and in religious schools, it perfectly legal to only teach creationism, and never mention darwin!

and any one, at any time can start a religion, and once they call it a religion, its is exempt! (ask L. Ron Hubbard, who's quasi science fictions stories didn't sell to well, but who made a fortune with scientology!)

many other countries do have laws (good, bad and indifferent) about religions.. the has been some press, about scientology-- it doesn't meet what ever standard is set in germany to qualify as a religion.

(wonder what they would do with sect that exist in US that use poisons snakes in/as part of services rituals!)

I attended catholic schools till age 14 or so, and went to public HS. in some ways, the catholic school was better, in many ways worse.. neither really met my needs, and my parents were too stressed out to make any effort to find a school that did.

my children went to public schools, and my son elected to go to the local HS, but my daughter elected to commute for 1 hour each way, and attended a special HS (dedicated to Arts and Design.) NY has many special HS's, each with different specializations. On, Automotive HS, for many years had recuiters coming from the big three automotive companies, and would hire top students! This was HS! If Bean lived here, she could have started studying oceanography in HS, and would have taken a class in scuba diving, and done a Lab on a boat, in the Atlantic!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** *
and Biker Mom, one problem with national salaries for teachers, is housing cost are so different!
Greenwich Conn. has a problem, it likes to have local (township residents) for teachers, but housing costs are so high, most teachers can't afford to live in Greenwich.. teaches there get about $80K max but the average house cost over 1million!-- NYC teachers might seem to get alot of money (max pay is up to $70K,) but again, housing in NY is very expensive, and we have rather high tax rate, and $70K doesn't provide middle, middle class life style! so a one size fits all solutions to salaries might not work..
one problems is teachers get educated, and often, they elect to live in an area that provides more in the way of cultural enhancements.. libraries, book stores, theater, etc, and these tend to be in cities not in small towns.
the enhancements of small town life are different..(not better or worse)

my other obsession

#16481 - 04/28/02 10:36 AM Re: Kids and school
bikermom Offline

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 96
Loc: Ohio, USA
. >>>The difficult thing is finding the approach that meets the needs of the individual and no one system can be everything to everyone.<<<

Exactly my point--and it is the parent, teacher, administrator etc who should recognize this in kids and while not feasible to send each individual to their own special school, it is feasible to recognize a students learning patterns---And this takes interaction by parents, teachers, administrators, school boards etc. Don't sit behind your desk and dictate rules and leave a paper trail a mile long, that no one really wants to read. Human interaction and not the kind that certain priests and the like give. Kids are and should be our number one priority. And the schools, public or private that expect interaction from parents, teachers, administrators etc will in turn have many top students etc. No human, whether young or old, likes to be dictated to from a distance without the interaction----and perhaps this is what creates the school and other shootings on the rampage now, too many of us are being brushed off or put off and are never really heard. Take notice next time you are a customer anywhere---how many clerks and receptionists are so stressed out that they can not smile or give a greeting. And when dealing with the paying public, this should be natural, not fake or forced , but natural---No one likes dealing with a stiff personality either, for instance, when talking to a Rock, one does all in their power to make the Rock respond, and only the very confidant can walk away and accept the loss--the rest will scream,sue, or shoot, or violate private areas.


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