Study says Catholic Schools may do Better than Public Schools
(RNS) — A study comparing math and science scores of students in Roman Catholic and public schools has speculated that the Catholic schools "may be educating their students better than public schools."
Findings of the study, which was conducted by Valerie E. Lee and Carolee Stewart of the University of Michigan, were released in Chicago March 28 during the 86th annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association.
Based on scores on standardized tests taken by students in grades 3, 7, and 11, the study found that mathematics proficiency is higher for Catholic than public school students at all three grades for all racial groups and all levels of parental education.
It also found that math proficiency varies in both types of schools by ethnicity and parental education, with minority children and children of less educated parents scoring lower.
Boys did better than girls in math and science in both kinds of schools, but the study found that "even though the science proficiency of females in Catholic high schools is below their male counterpart, it is higher than that of males in public schools."
Although it concluded that Catholic schools may do a better job of educating students than public schools, the study noted that "it is not possible to completely disentangle the possible causes for such higher proficiency (of Catholic school students) between superior educational treatment within the schools and the more advantaged students who attend."
While the study found that minority students in Catholic schools "were particularly advantaged compared to their public school minority counterparts," it also said that "the achievement advantage of Catholic over public school students is greatest for children of parents with the least education."
Shirley Frye, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, told the Washington Post she believed the Catholic school students did better because "you are talking about students who are a select group." She said parents who pay tuition to send their children to schools tend to "nurture them and support them and to help them at home."
Comment — What Mrs. Frye says above is very true. Perhaps the discipline is still much stricter in the Catholic schools, but the real difference is due to the parents themselves. The results on your child's report card, often reflect how great an interest you had in your child's education. I know of children who consistently score higher marks in school because the parents make homework a number one priority. Every parent should take an interest in what his or her child is doing in school; not just by asking them at the supper table what they're studying in school, but also by actually sitting down with them to oversee their homework. We must have a great care over our children's education, they're the future priests, nuns and rulers of our society.
Bush Remarks Throw Doubt on his Support for Tuition Credits
WASHINGTON (RNS) — President George Bush's off-the-cuff remarks about private schools during a meeting with teenagers at the White House have called into question his depth of support for tuition tax credits.
The controversy began during a March 29 meeting between the president and 75 high school students who were part of a Close-Up Foundation meeting at the White House. One student, who attends a private school, asked if his parents should get a tax break for his tuition.
"No, they shouldn't," Mr. Bush replied. "I think it is the obligation of all taxpayers to support the public education system in order to be the best. Everybody should support the public school system and then, if on top of that, your parents think that they want to shell out in addition to the tax money, tuition money, that's their right. But I don't think they should get a break for that."
The president went on to say that he supported the concept of tuition tax credits. But, he said, the nation can't afford them with the current budget deficit.
Two days later, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater issued a clarification. He said that Mr. Bush's comments opposing a "tax break" were in response to the student questioner, who indicated he believed his parents should not have to pay taxes for public schools because they sent him to a private school.
President Bush's comments had suggested an ideological opposition to tuition tax credits, which would have been newsworthy because the Reagan administration and the 1988 Republican Platform supported tax credits. And in a 1988 campaign biography titled "George Bush: Man of Integrity," Mr. Bush said, "I support tuition tax credits. I believe that we should provide greater choice in education to families, and tuition tax credits are one way to do that."
Comment — Well, Mr. President you have totally confused me. Where do you actually stand? You say you support tuition tax credits and then you turn around and say but our country can't afford to give them now. What a joke. With our nation trillions of dollars in debt, it has money to actually give away to Israel and other countries, but none to help and support our own nation's parents interested in providing American children with the best possible education?
Religion Cited as Basis for Prejudice Against Homosexuals
DENVER (RNS) — Religion is the main reason that some people are fearful of or prejudiced against homosexuals, says a Roman Catholic priest who specializes in promoting acceptance of homosexuals.
Father Robert Nugent said persons who are prejudiced against homosexuals often "use the bible to validate their feelings."
The priest, a Baltimore pastor, also noted that many religious faith groups teach that homosexuality is sinful. People also use that teaching to justify their prejudice, he said.
The prejudice takes such forms as abhorrence, name calling, discrimination, and violence, Father Nugent said.
If those practices were directed against other groups such as Jews or blacks, church leaders would speak out, he said. In the case of prejudice against homosexuals, he said church leaders often remain silent.
"When church leaders are silent in the face of anti-gay violence or fail to develop a pastoral ministry for homosexual people or when they oppose gay rights legislation based on unfounded fears, they are contributing to an atmosphere of homophobia," Father Nugent said.
In 1986 the Vatican issued a policy statement sharply critical of homosexuality. "I'm tempted to say that it (the statement) is homophobic," Sister Gramick said in an interview.
Father Nugent said he believes it was issued to stop the Catholic Church in the United States "from moving in a positive direction."
He said he does not consider Pope John Paul II homophobic, but said he is homonegative. Homosexual issues are "not his agenda," Father Nugent said of the pope. "This is a minor issue (to him)."
Minnesota nun demands apology for AIDS victim's retention
MINNEAPOLIS (RNS) —A Roman Catholic nun who serves as Minnesota commissioner of health castigated the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for jailing a Dutch AIDS patient.
Sister Mary Madonna Ashton called on President George Bush to "issue an apology as soon as possible" to Hans Paul Verhoef, director of minority policies for Delft, The Netherlands.
Mr. Verhoef was taken into custody at the airport here April 2 after admitting to U.S. customs agents that he has AIDS. He was detained under a federal law that allows the INS to block entry of foreigners with a "dangerous, contagious disease."
Mr. Verhoef was on his way to the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference in San Francisco as a representative of Delft's municipal government when he was seized after the experimental drug AZT was found in his possessions. AIDS activist and health officials locally and nationally expressed outrage over his jailing. Some picketed the district INS office in St. Paul. Gays in San Francisco staged a demonstration demanding that Mr. Verhoef be freed.
Sister Ashton, in her statement, said, "In our view, the actions of the INS in this case are both inappropriate and profoundly disturbing. We are astonished and appalled at the lack of basic knowledge about AIDS displayed by the INS.
Comment — Comforting to know what some priests and nuns are worked up about, isn't it? The article about the priest saying the pope is "homonegative" is a real winner. I guess that means God is "homonegative" too since He destroyed Sodom and Gomorra because of this unnatural vice. (Genesis 19)
Omaha School Officials Back Down in Bible reading Case
(RNS) — In response to a lawsuit filed in federal district court, officials of a public school in Omaha, Neb., have agreed to allow a fifth grader to read his bible in school.
The suit was filed last December by the National Legal Foundation on behalf of 10-year-old James Gierke. The complaint said the boy was told by his teacher, Leslie Halbleib, and the principal of Spring Lake Elementary School, Darlene Blotzer, that he was forbidden to read his bible during a free reading period.
The school officials subsequently agreed not to prohibit religious literature during free reading time, and the Gierke family dropped the lawsuit March 15.
"It's time for public school officials to stop penalizing and ostracizing children who believe in God," said Robert K. Skolrood, executive director of the National Legal Foundation. "The Gierke case should send a clear message to principals and teachers across America: It is not unconstitutional for students to bring their religious beliefs to school."
Crucifixes Removed from Municipal courtrooms in Montreal
(RNS) — One man's persistence has led to the removal of crucifixes from municipal courtrooms in Montreal.
When Norman Spatz went to municipal court to challenge a traffic ticket more than a year ago, he was shocked to see a large crucifix hanging on the wall behind the judge's bench. Mr. Spatz, who is Jewish, noted that the crucifix was apparently the only symbol in the courtroom which did not have a Canadian, Quebec, or Montreal flag, or even the city logo.
Mr. Spatz revealed that he was Jewish by not swearing on the bible. He told the judge he feared the decision in his case might be prejudiced because he had identified himself as not belonging to the faith symbolized by the cross.
The judge refused to discuss the matter and told Mr. Spatz he had to pay the $25 parking fine. Mr. Spatz paid, but he took the crucifix matter further.
He brought up the subject at a city council meeting and told Mayor Jean Dore he felt it was inappropriate for a courtroom in a multicultural democratic society. When the mayor said he found it inoffensive, Mr. Spatz wrote a letter of complaint to Montreal executive committee chairman Michael Fainstat, who is Jewish. After months went by with no response, Mr. Spatz sent a copy of the letter and had it certified.
Finally, in December, Mr. Spatz received a response from the clerk of the Montreal municipal court, who said the crosses would be taken down. This has now been done.
Comment — When will this world stop allowing itself to be pushed and controlled by those who are anti-Christ? It infuriates me to think that laws are made to dispel our Savior from public places, while other laws are made to allow homosexuals more freedom.