Part VI: Motivating Parents as Advocates for Catholic Schools
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Part VI: Motivating Parents as Advocates for Catholic Schools

Okay, a couple more things about the Iowa
process. 90% of all funds must be used for tuition; the remaining 10% can be used for
administration. Now this is actually a great thing, because that 10% can be used for informing
and empowering key constituents. So this whole tax cut program is funding the education process
of educating parents about what itís doing for their kids, and also educating constituents
about how to give to these STOs. So now the whole process is being funded, so now weíve
created a self-perpetuating structure going on. And in the case of Iowa and all the other
states who have got tax credits, tax credits in place, they never go away and always get
bigger, because the political law off doesnít make sense to alienate five percent of the
electorate over point zero one percent of budget. Okay just very brieflyÖoh you have
a quick question? Sure. Yeah, the rules for distribution is that graph, family size, family
income, so if youíreÖno itís not, and in the case of Iowa thereís eleven STOs and
thatís for all private schools; four of them are Catholic. Guess what, thereís four diocese
in the state of Iowa. You see where this is going? So in Iowa, each diocese created their
catholic student tuition organization. And then this agreement, ten million dollars for
the state of Iowa diocese of Des Moines because of the number of students and allocation of
that, they get two million dollars. So then the archdiocese of Des Moines has to go out
to all the people in that core of the state and say, ìFolks, we need two million dollars.î
And youíll get those tax deductions, tax credits. Thatís not a problem. They get it
like that. The challenge is getting the 2 million to become 4 million, become 10 million,
until that 5 percent of the state budget matched the five percent of the population. Okay,
I was telling Burt beforehand, I just got the chance to speak in Australia. Australiaís
very, very similar to the United States only they had the Lemon decision go the other way.
And down there they decided that the state could fund Catholic education, doesnít mean
that the state would. And they faced the same challenge ñ they had a gold rush in the 1850s,
they had decline in religious 1960s, I mean, exactly parallel to us. The only difference
was the Goulburn School Strike in July of 1962. What happened was, in 1962 the state
require that there been a certain number of toilets for every kids in the Catholic schools.
And so the Cardinal said, ìYouíve got to be kidding me! So weíre educating all these
kids and you want us to rip out all our bathrooms and add one or two more toilets just because
you passed this law about this.î And so the Cardinal in Sydney had a parent meeting and
said, ìParents, what should we do about this?î And the parents saidÖI think we should walk
out. And they did. They had a walkout, 1962. All the kids went to the local public schools
and enrolled. Hello, Iím so and so, Iíd like to enroll my three, four children. Oh
Iíd like to enroll my seven children. Iíd like to enroll my three children. And so all
of a sudden, overnight, all these public schools were required to educate these people. They
didnít have the staff, they didnít have the facilities. Thatís when the state realized
what an asset Catholic schools were. Now it took eight years, but Catholics schools got
funding in 1970 and, today, Australian Catholic schools receive 72 percent of their funding
from the state. The distinction is the state funds all the teacherís salary and benefits.
Pretty cool. Now the downside of this, and this is a sad story that I recently heard,
in the state of Missouri the same type of movement was going on in the 1970s and there
was a parent push and it came up to Cardinal May. And they said, ìCardinal May, we need
to do thisî and there was a legislator who said, ìYou could get state funding if you
get something like this in the state of Missouri, especially Saint Louis, Kansas City and the
whole bit. And unfortunately at the time Cardinal May said, ìNo. I donít want to offend anybody.î
Okay hereís the deal ñ we canít blame cardinals anymore. Parents, youíre now aware of this.
So you have to ask yourself, ìDo I want to offend anybody?î I hope the answer is yes.
Okay, just in conclusion I think we need to look in terms of short-term, intermediate
term and long term solutions. Educating people is a short-term, immediate thing. Raising
money through parents and partner ship programs is a great thing; we can generate money, we
can start getting alumni organizations going, but really, again, my mantra ñ itís not
about money. Itís really about engaging parents and calling them to what the catechism is
telling us, that they are the first and primary educators, and empowering them to take on
that roll. Once theyíre in that role, they will understand the injustice that is being
done to them, the fundamental violation of parent rights of being taxed twice and being
told that thereís only one viable, affordable educational option for them. Go back to the
first principles. Whatís the roll of the state? To provide and educated, literate population
for the running of the republic, okay? Beyond that, there should not be a requirement that
it be one system or another. Parents should be provided that opportunity to make that
choice. Iím going to conclude with a script I want to read. This is a diagram that I put
together. I think ultimately, weíre called to build up the Church, the body of Christ.
And as I alluded to earlier, the good news bad news from all the sociological research
is Catholic school is the best evangelical tool that we have. Yeah, thatís some good
news bad news. Within the evangelizing Catholic school, at the core, we have got the smallest
unit of the Church, and thatís the parents as primary educators. We need to inform them
of this roll. We need to call them to this roll. We need to help and support them in
this roll. And parents as the primary educators can then be engaged in parent advocacy, the
faith development of their children, and also the whole evangelization effort one to one.
Just a final comment here: ìIn short, we Americans were once a persecuted immigrant
population in a hostile land, finding our way. We built our Catholic schools as a bulwark
against the hostile culture to protect our young and our faith. However, a strange thing
happened over the years. The culture was apparently tamed and no longer overtly hostile. We Catholics
crawled from our immigrant ghettos and proved our Americanism. We pursued the American dream,
purchased homes in the suburbs, and became disengaged with our Church. The parish has
been replaced by the elite soccer league and the new axis around which our lives revolve.
We then allowed our Catholic schools to no longer be built or to close down. The challenged
we didnít see or address were secular humanism, rugged individualism, and paganistic hedonism.
While the Church was basking in the success of rapid growth and peak Catholic school enrollment
in the 1960s, the larger cultural forces were building up and intensity to create a massive
storm that would finally be recognized in Catholic education in the late sixties and
seventies and still experienced today. I contend that the challenges facing Catholic schools
is a crisis, but is also a symptom of a much larger crisis of faith in the Church, whose
seeds and roots go back to the experience of American Catholics decades and even a century
earlier. This is our story as American Catholics ñ a people in need turned to God, made sacrifices,
and found success. Unfortunately the success turned into individual and institutional hubris,
a lack of reading the signs of the times and ultimately, missed opportunities and some
degree of failure. Does the story sound familiar? This is the Cliffnotes version of our entire
Old Testament. It is the story of salvation history only now itís playing itself out
here in America. We must respond to the universal call to holiness, beginning with ourselves.
We must be an evangelizing people, and a beacon of hope to those who are hopeless and lost
on the emptiness of our society that preaches secular humanism, rugged individualism, and
paganistic hedonism. We must boldly proclaim to parents that they are the primary educators
of their children and that we are here to help them in this enterprise, that we believe
that their child is a child of God, and that our entire parish community, not just the
school community, would like to wrap our arms around them and help them raise their child
to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We would like to assist them in their roll
to provide faith development for their child. We would like to invite them to be an active
member of our faith community, to grow in their own faith development, and to share
their time, talent, and trade to make sure we reach even more children and families with
this message of the love of Jesus Christ. Parents organizing themselves to reclaim a
fundamental right that has been taken from them by the state then becomes a natural thing
to do. And old pastor once said to me that when you have a money problem, you donít
really have a money problem. You have a faith problem. As the title of this presentation
tells us, we are called to be prophets and help parents, primary educators, and evangelizers
of children. If we can do this, our parents will solve all the problems that need to be
solved. Thank you very much.

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