Faith-Based, Part 1

We got the official word last week that the Catholic grade school where we send Flora and Kate is closing this spring.

It’s heartbreaking, especially to my husband, who is an alumnus of the school. The girls love their teachers and classmates, and I’m sure it’s going to be difficult for them in the short run.

That being said, Catholic schools all over Pittsburgh — all over the United States, I suppose — have been struggling. St. J has been on the block for three years now, and with the inability to bring enrollment up past 90 students, the diocese and the church decided to close the school.

When Dan told me, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Or, rather, I wasn’t sure what other Catholic school we were going to send our children too. I don’t know anything about the other schools, and I am going to have to do some serious homework, with Dan, to see the best fit for us. And right quick, too.

When asked about switching the girls to a public school, I thought to myself, “Oh, I don’t think so.”

It’s hard to put into words why I think it’s important that my children get a Catholic education.

But, being a writer and all, I’m sure going to try.

1. I will admit, some of why I want my kids to go to Catholic schools is as elementary as the fact that *I* went to Catholic schools. It’s what I know; it’s what I am comfortable with. I had a Catholic education from pre-k through college graduation. And I benefitted from it, academically as well as spiritually.

2. While it’s important that I participate with my children in their education, it’s also important that they get the most in-depth education they can get. I could no more teach higher level mathematics than I could guide my children in an informative Bible study. While I might know more about my Catholic faith than the average Joe, I think my kids would do better to get formally educated in it.

3. This is probably an arguable point: The quality of a Catholic education is often superior to a public education. This is kind of inevitable, and I don’t think public education should be written off. However, from my POV, Catholic (and private schools, in general) attract very dedicated teachers. In my experience, teaching wasn’t just a job for the men and women (some of them nuns) from whom I learned; it was a vocation, a calling. Lord knows (pun intended) they don’t get paid a lot of money — this probably varies from school to school, and some hoity toity private schools can probably attract the talent with a high paycheck. (Which isn’t to write off hoity toity schools, either. Each system has its place.)

4. School uniforms. You have no idea how simplifying having school uniforms is. It really levels the playing field in some respects, socially. And I expect it to make my life as a mom much easier during the week. Once they start wearing uniforms (Flora, still in kindergarten, isn’t subject to the uniform rule yet), my mornings will be that much easier.

5. Finally, and this is where I get religion-y on you: I believe our lives should be God-centered. What we do and the way we do it should give glory to our creator. This is at the very heart of Catholic education. No, that doesn’t mean talking about God in every class. But that means that learning about one’s faith is as vital as learning math, English, science, computer, etc.

What are your thoughts about education? Public, private, Christian-based? Why?