Families Don’t Want Catholic Schools To Follow Public Schools Down The Tubes

Families Don’t Want Catholic Schools To Follow Public Schools Down The Tubes

Families should not give in to Catholic schools that impose politically motivated mask and vaccine mandates and allow the gospel of woke to infiltrate school culture.
Carina Benton
By

While parents throughout the country have been taking on school districts over politically motivated mask mandates, racist curriculum, and radical gender theory, many Catholic school parents are engaged in similar battles.

Like their secular counterparts, many Catholic schools are revealing themselves as politicized institutions administered by leftist bishops, priests, administrators, and board members that are betraying the families they’re meant to serve. Whether it’s forcing face coverings and injections on children and staff or allowing woke ideology to infiltrate school culture, these schools don’t deserve parents’ hard-earned money. Indeed, it may be time for Catholic families to start shopping around.

Masks for Kids as Young as Four

A disappointing number of Catholic dioceses are beginning the school year with tyrannical mask requirements. Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Archdiocese of Little Rock and Archbishop of Atlanta, Gregory J. Hartmayer have mandated masks for all diocesan elementary schools, including for children as young as four.

The Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Brooklyn have announced mandates for all of their schools, regardless of vaccination status. The Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of El Paso are even requiring that all staff accept COVID-19 shots, a disturbing indicator of things to come once vaccines are made available for young children.

Father Bob Tabbert, Pastor of John XXIII Church in Fort Myers, Florida concluded a recent Sunday Mass by berating parents for planning to protest Bishop Frank J. Dewane’s last-minute mask mandate for students of schools in the diocese of Venise. According to the new rules, students whose parents refuse to have their children muzzled will be shunned from campus. Tabbert told parishioners he would be “pissed off” with any demonstrators, even threatening to withhold tuition assistance from families who protested the mandate.

Yet when recently pressed on the matter, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins couldn’t provide a science-based explanation for why children are being forced to mask up at school. COVID-19’s overall risks to children are low, there is no data supporting greater risk of hospitalization or serious illness among children who do not wear masks, nor is there any evidence that the delta variant is more contagious and severe in children. The recommendation to mask children is essentially based on a combination of fear, assumptions, anecdotal evidence, and guesswork.

This Is Harming Children’s Development

Meanwhile, the cognitive, emotional, physical, and psychological effects of mask mandates, the surface of which we have only begun to scratch, should concern all parents. Data from the United Kingfom reveal that pandemic response measures like lockdowns and face coverings could be harming the social skills and language development of young children.

According to research by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), 96 percent of the 58 primary schools surveyed across England reported concerns about pupils’ speech and language development. An extra 20-25 percent of the 50,000 four and five-year-olds who started school last September required additional help with language skills compared with the previous year.

Brown University researchers used an ongoing longitudinal study of child neurodevelopment to compare general childhood cognitive scores in 2020 and 2021 with data gathered continuously over the past decade. They found that “children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic,” with males and babies in lower-income families most affected.

The study suggests that masks “may impact a range of early developing skills, such as attachment, facial processing, and socioemotional processing.” It concludes that addressing why young infants and children are developing differently than pre-pandemic is imperative so that public health and educational policies can be tailored accordingly.

In the meantime, Catholic schools seem content to use children as guinea pigs, elevating political obedience, hysteria, and whac-a-mole health and safety policies, over science, parental rights, and the cardinal virtue of prudence.

Souls Are More Important than Health

From a Christian perspective, the problem is not mask mandates per se. Rather, given the 0.002 percent mortality rate for children under 17 and the high recovery rate even for individuals over 65, and the Centers for Disease Control’s own data suggesting mask requirements are associated with a negligible decrease in both death and case growth rates, mask mandates in Catholic schools betray a distorted theology.

When “love thy neighbor,” the principle used to justify these stringent measures, goes hand in hand with an irrational fear that thy neighbor could be a potential vector of disease and infection, something is askew. The Christian hope is not the temporal concerns of this world but the reward of everlasting life in Christ.

As Christians, we humbly ask for our “daily bread,” but our thoughts and affections should be absorbed by the resurrection of the body and soul in the life to come. In this way, we submit more willingly and joyfully to God, we bear burdens and hardships with increased strength, and discharge our duties to our neighbors with more sincere charity.

Masks Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Unfortunately, masks and vaccines are just the tip of the iceberg. Many schools pimping themselves out as “Catholic” are, under the guise of academic-sounding buzzwords like “social justice” and “equity and diversity”, unleashing a culture of anti-Christic falsehoods.

In an op-ed for The National Catholic Register, Noelle Mering sounds the alarm about what she described as the “woke toxicity” corrupting Catholic schools. She cited examples from Loyola Academy, a Catholic Prep school outside of Chicago, where students were racially segregated for school assignments on privilege.

Mering correctly argues that Catholics don’t need woke diversity consultants to teach them about “social justice.” The sophisticated theological and philosophical tradition of the Catholic Church, built up over two millennia, emphasizes the universal dignity of all persons and condemns racism as an intrinsic evil. Christians follow St. Paul’s teaching that “all have sinned and need the glory of God.” We seek salvation in Christ alone, not by asking “structural questions.”

Unfortunately, many Catholic schools have been seduced by the gospel of woke. Last spring an open letter from a group of concerned alumni and parents of Regis High school, a prestigious private Jesuit school for boys in New York, lamented the board’s surrender to the “anti-rational, anti-liberal, anti-meritocratic, neo-racist ideology that is Critical Race Theory.” A Florida couple recently sued their daughters’ private Catholic school, the Academy of Holy Names in Tampa, Florida, for breach of contract, claiming that the school’s adoption of “woke” ideology is a betrayal of its commitment to providing a Catholic education.

Diversify…Away From Christian Teachings

I had to address similar concerns with the preK-6 Catholic independent school in Seattle where my daughter was enrolled for two years. Not surprisingly, the school’s response was essentially to shut up and pay up. The archbishop’s pffice similarly blew me off.

Yet no one has explained why a Catholic school, as part of its “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” program, is hosting staff development and parent education nights featuring “respected voices” like writer Ijeoma Oluo, a #shoutyourabortion activist, who expresses contempt for the Christian faith, and is anti-science and anti-Catholic enough to believe that abortion is “just the removal of a clump of cells”.

Nor has anyone shed light on why a Catholic school community is being lectured on racism and sexuality by an LGBTQ advocate who has tweeted that “most Latinos are just Spanish speaking white people who typically lean very conservative and hate black people,” that “black men married to white women are always the weakest link,” and that the “the drunker I get the cuter the Korean chicks get.” This bigotry is hardly the Catholic education and culture I signed up for.

Don’t Send Your Kids and Money to These Schools

Catholic parents must not abandon the faith, they should reject politicized Catholic schools that encourage fear and idolization of sickness and public health, that discriminate against individuals who object to the use of aborted fetal tissue in vaccine development, or that surreptitiously push a “social justice” agenda that promotes racism and violates church teaching.

Affected Catholic families might look for a biblically grounded, interdenominational Christian school that is not tyrannizing and othering students and staff over masks and vaccines. Homeschooling is another possibility. Supplement this by attending and financially supporting a doctrinally correct parish, preferably a Latin Mass, where your family can be properly instructed in the faith and receive the sacraments.

Catholic parents do not need these schools, yet they are most certainly dependent on us. Despite the arrogant claims of individuals like Tabbert that there are plenty of parents waiting in line to take the place of the rebellious serfs and dissidents, the numbers tell a different story. Catholic school enrolment has been in freefall since the 1960s, and the number of Catholic schools has halved since 1970. The 2020-21 academic year saw the greatest single-year decline in Catholic school enrollment in five decades.

Once parents embrace these sobering truths, they can feel empowered to keep voicing their dissent and hold their Catholic school accountable. Alternatively, they may prefer to untether themselves from the sinking ship and start researching worthier school options.

Carina Benton is a native Australian living in Washington state. She is a practicing Catholic and has taught for many years in Catholic and Christian schools. She is a mother of two young children. 

Copyright © 2021 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.