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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fr. Stravinskas vs. Home Schooling: With all due respect, you're all wet!

I get a little testy about priests who go after parents for daring to home school their children. Fr. Peter Stravinskas gives home schooling two thumbs down and makes a lot of statement that are just downright wrong, at least from this former home schooler's perspective. My comments in read. Here's what Father told Our Sunday Visitor (See complete article here....):
There are several reasons to prefer Catholic schools, Father Stravinskas told Our Sunday Visitor, including that the Church Fathers made clear that catechesis is the job of the whole Church, with the main responsibility resting on the shoulders of the pastor, not the parents. (The Church teaches that PARENTS, not the pastor are the primary educators of their children. This includes religious training. The pastor and the Church certainly have a part to play, but to say the main responsibility is the pastor's flies in the face of reality, especially when pastors change every few years. In view of the fact that the faith is not being taught in many parishes and dioceses, parents who went along with this view would be guilty of abandoning their children to ignorance in the faith.)
And Catholic parents who choose to home-school when there is a Catholic school available at least implicitly send the message that they do not trust the Church to educate their children properly, and the children get that message. (There is a wide disparity among Catholic schools with regard to both academic training and religious training. The two high schools my three oldest went to were scandalous. When I visited my daughter's school senior year to speak to the girls about marriage and NFP I ended up arguing in the faculty lounge with teachers who had no problem with Sr. Mansour being head of human services in, I believe, Chicago and paying for abortions. I left the school shaking my head over what these teachers were saying to my daughter in the classroom. Not to mention that it was costing us a fortune to have her faith undermined. It was even worse at our two sons' school where many teachers were liberal democrats and had no problem with politicians coming to the school who were pro-abortion. Fr. Stravinskas can make an argument when Catholic schools are truly Catholic. Until then, those of us who love the faith and love our children will choose what's best which is often home schooling!)

“On the same property where they go to church on Sunday is a school where the parents don’t wish to send them,” he said. (Maybe they can't afford it. We spent tens of thousands of dollars sending children to Catholic schools that betrayed us. My only regret is that I didn't home school sooner! We could have invested that money for college instead of refinancing our house to pay for "Catholic" education.)

That leads to a subtle anti-clericalism, he said, because the children learn that priests cannot be counted on to hand on the faith. It shows in what he sees as a dearth of vocations from home-school families. “Why would you want to join the club if its members can’t be trusted to their jobs?” he said. (Is Fr. Stravinskas kidding? Many priests CAN'T be trusted! I started telling our children after numerous scandalous experiences with teachers and principals at Catholic schools that, "Just because someone is wearing a roman collar doesn't mean he's telling you the truth!" My kids are all adults with children now and they are all practiciing the faith despite being scandalized at Catholic schools. I almost lost my own faith at a Catholic college. I think my husband and I fighting with bad priests and bad laity in the schools helped make our children firmer in their faith. Perhaps, Father, you should look to your brother priests and bishops who preach a different gospel than that of Jesus Christ for the dearth of vocations and stop pointing the finger at home schoolers.) 

He also believes it is psychologically unhealthy for mothers to spend 24 hours a day with their children as they get older, and it’s academically nearly impossible for one person to teach all that is included in a modern high school curriculum. (Oh please! Home schooling moms don't spend 24 hours a day with their kids. Most children participate in multiple activities outside the home. Some attend home school academies one or two days a week. Some volunteer or intern; others attend junior colleges for high school subjects like biology and foreign language, and most engage in extra curriculars. How many home schoolers does Fr. Stravinskas actually know? I have a home schooling friend whose daughter is discerning religious life. Father's anti- home school bias gets in the way of facts.)

What’s more, he said, some home-school families say they have no issues with the faculty or teaching at their local Catholic schools, but they don’t want their children exposed to others whose families might not have the same values as theirs. (One of the reasons I began home schooling my two youngest of five children was the breakdown of the family. I taught in a parochial school my children attended for a year and was shocked at how things had changed since I was in school. I had youngsters in my class whose parents weren't married or came from seriously disfunctional homes. I loved the kids, but the disruption in the classroom from chaotic home situations was appalling. That's a major reason I decided to home school and I continued for five years and then put my youngest in a faithful Catholic high school her older sister, who only home schooled one year, was attending. Home schooling was one of the best decisions I ever made. I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner for more of my children.)
Most Catholic schools from elementary through college do not teach the authentic faith. When pastors try, like the one in Massachusetts who refused enrollment of the child living with lesbian partners, they get a quick slapdown. Fr. Stravinskas does not appear to live in the real world. If Catholic schools were Catholic he might have a point. They are not. We committed to Catholic education for about 18 years. I volunteered in every school my children attended. Frankly, I feel like we should have sued our three oldest children's high schools for fraud. Our elementary school was better, but many are not, like another in the diocese that did their passion play in mime makeup and had a girl playing the role of Jesus. And then there was the one with the sex ed class where kids "built" sex organs out of nuts and straws and other things. This is Catholic?

Two thumbs up for home schoolers who are brave and committed and want their children to be "raised up in the way they should go" -- the authentic Catholic faith.


teresamarie said...

living in Hawaii, we choose to homeschool where most voters are democrats. It is not easy to homeschool, due to the sinful nature of us parents and also the influences of facebook,ipods.....
however, our children do know the True Faith. They I hope will never join a Protestant sect, as we use a Faithful curriculuml,namely Mother of Divine Grace Catholic Classic Curriculum. They also do soccer,dance,guitar,and belong to the local Catholic Youth Group.

Anna D. said...

Well, it is all worth considering. Would not the energy and time of parents devoted to homeschooling be better spent trying to improve the local Catholic school? More Catholic parents homeschooling will soon mean the end of the Catholic school system in this country. Many of the parish schools in larger cities are simply a private school option, instead of a religious school option. My home parish in Toledo, Ohio, where all but one student was Catholic when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, is now more than 50% non-Catholic and they offer study hall during weekly Mass.

And I agree with much of what Father said as far as the unspoken consequences of the homeschooler's actions: by saying that we can go to Mass here but that we don't trust the education is to say that we have doubts about the whole picture. I certainly think kids pick up on the implication. And I also know that my ability to instruct my children in higher maths and sciences would be dismal. I struggled with simply looking over Algebra 1 homework this year! There is no doubt in my mind that a certified, educated, and good instructor is better than a well-intentioned parent for most subjects.

Many parents in this area choose homeschooling and lots of them are Catholic. I find, when those students participate in CYO and other events, that their overall knowledge of church doctrine is varied and often false. There is a growing "sect" of Catholics in our community who are advocating that girls and women can not cut their hair and must always dress in skirts. They sit in the front rows at Mass and homeschool their children. While I am all for each and every family to decide what is right for their individual circumstances, I do not want what they deem is correct to stand as doctrine for the Catholic church. If those children only hear what their parents tell them... then how do they know what the true doctrine is?

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I taught 4th grade CCD for years and found that the home schoolers in my class were the ones who knew their prayers, knew the mysteries of the rosary, were the best at answering questions in class, etc. There are extremes in every group. Interesting that there is no talk about Catholics who send their children to public schools. Why is that I wonder? Why the attack only on home schoolers?

As for not being proficient in math -- that's when home schoolers band together and hire a tutor.

Chudah said...

My two sisters went to Catholic grammar school, but after my parent's divorce (my mother never remarried, btw, despite being granted a valid annulment), there was no way she could afford to send all 4 of us to Catholic schools. So, we ended up in public school the rest of the way.

In lieu of the religious education we would've received in school, she taught us the best she could, and I have to say I think we turned out OK. I remember my mom teaching me my Hail Mary when I was all of 2 years old. She always found opportunities to teach us about the faith and LIVE it, not like many parents these days that send their kids to Catholic schools or CCD and wash their hands.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this....I guess I just wanted to say that situations differ, and to place blame on people that don't have to financial ability to send their children to Catholic schools or prefer homeschooling is disrespectful and upsetting. That's beside the fact that so many schools teach heresy these days. At least my mother knew she was teaching us the Truth and not leaving our souls completely to the schools' "mercy".

Were I given the opportunity to have been homeschooled, I would've taken it up in a heartbeat. Due to social problems and the isolation I went through in the system, I almost dropped out of my senior year of high school with only a month to go despite ultimately graduating 3rd in my class. But God helped me get through.

Anonymous said...

Just a sampling of our Balto/Wash Diocesan experience: Husband wanting to convert, attending RCIA told by priest that Mario Cuomo should be canonized and priest giving steady diet of heretical articles from "America" magazine; same priest telling the class Catholics only believe in the True Presence to have something to lord over the Protestants during the Reformation; moved to another parish. Priest there did the sex ed for 7th/8th graders (some very weird stuff); friend's daughter was taught by nun in a Balto."catholic" high school to use Saran Wrap ("keep it in your purses") for contraception/sex play.
With most parochial schools falling all over themselves to be "Blue Ribbon" state-approved schools, offering dangerous ideology, and neglecting to support the parents in the Catholic education of the children, they may as well close down.
Thank God that we had the freedom to homeschool so that we would not lose our Faith. We were blessed abundantly for that sacrifice. Our children are pro-life, practicing Catholics and they graduated from a faithful, truly Catholic college.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Chudah. I attended a workshop last fall with a panel of four moms. Two were home schoolers (one new, one experienced), one had children in Catholic schools, and one had children in public schools and all were committed to the faith. It was edifying to listen to all these moms who knew and respected one another. Nobody tried to say "My way is the only way." Everybody respected that each family needs to decide what's best for them. Each had good reasons for choosing what they did. It was a great discussion. Sounds like you were blessed to have a great mom.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Priest needs to address how anyone (but the 2% rich) living a Catholic married life can afford Catholic school to be at all credible.