Hubris and Catholic Schools (crossposted)

[Crossposted to my dayton-specific blog, Polishing the Gem City with a Dirty T-shirt.]

I’ve been trying to find a way to share this with you for the last week. It is a perfect example of how our assumptions can become so embedded that we utterly fail to recognize them.

I’m not fond of the public schools around here – not after my son’s latest set of experiences with Eastmont, and a teacher who wanted to punish my son for refusing to let another kid cheat off of him. (Or when he was kept at the school there, and the principal had yet to apologize, or they double-booked him for classes and were failing him in one…the list goes on.) For most people, the alternatives are charter schools (and I hear mixed things about those) or private schools.

And in many places, private schools roughly equate to Catholic schools. I went to a Catholic school for much of my junior high and half my high school time. I don’t have anything explicitly against Catholic schools. I want to make that clear up front.

During my time working with a local parish, getting more kids into Catholic schools was a preeminent concern. There are a whole host of reasons why people do not send their kids to these schools – though the parish I was working with actively refused to examine that. Sometimes it’s the teachers or principal. Sometimes it’s the age of the building. Sometimes it’s the monoculture, or the religious aspect itself. And sometimes it’s the money.

One of these – the cost – puts the responsibility for change outside of the parish. Guess which one is considered the biggest reason for not attending a Catholic school?

We got a letter a little more than a week ago from “Partnerships 4 Success”. They’re targeting people who may not be sending their child to a Catholic school for monetary reasons. They have a solution for you.

They will help you find a part-time job.

After extolling the importance of a strong family life, they recommend having a parent be out of the home more, not less. They presume that those without work simply can’t find the jobs. They are presuming that those who don’t have enough money for Catholic school are just barely short of the amount needed… and that they can’t conceptualize the idea of working more for more money.

The statistics cited are also insultingly misrepresented – “Working 16 hours a week at $8 an hour, for example, translates into more than $6,400 income per year.” Well, yes. If the job’s hours hold steady for fifty weeks. And if they don’t withhold any taxes. And if that doesn’t bump you up a tax bracket. And if that’s not enough money to disqualify you from any other aid you might be getting, most of which has steep if not absolute cut-off points. They ignore selection bias in reporting how many Catholic school grads are in college, and make some huge assumptions about pay raises when trying to extoll how great a performance boost they’re going to give you.

These kinds of embedded cultural assumptions are a galling example of hubris.

I understand that the local Catholic schools are having a very hard time lately. That part is true. They’ve got some real big problems.

Assuming that parents just aren’t looking hard enough for a job isn’t the answer.

Featured Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash