Skip to comments.President Delivers Remarks to Catholic Educational Association
Posted on 01/11/2004 5:51:12 PM PST by Coleus
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2004
2:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome. Thanks for coming; please be seated. Thanks for coming. (Laughter.) Welcome to the people's house. We're glad you're here.
The last 100 years, the leadership of the National Catholic Education Association has been vital in advancing the work of Catholic schools around the nation, and therefore has been vital to the hopeful future of America. I'm honored to join you for celebrating your 100th anniversary. And this is a fitting place to celebrate the anniversary.
Catholic schools carry out a great mission, to serve God by building knowledge and character of our young people. It's a noble calling. It's an important part of the fabric of America. By teaching the Word of God, you prepare your students to follow a path of virtue and compassion and sacrifice for the rest of their lives. And by insisting on high standards for academic achievement, Catholic schools are a model for all schools around our country. (Applause.)
I was hoping to run into a fellow Texan today. (Laughter and applause.) His Excellency Gregory Aymond is the Bishop from Austin, Texas. (Laughter.) He is -- I'm glad there's only a handful of Texans here. (Laughter.)
The Bishop is the board chair of the National Catholic Education Association, and I want to thank you for joining us. (Applause.)
I appreciate Michael Guerra. Michael Guerra is the president of the National Catholic Education Association. Michael, thank you. And thank you for all the board members who graciously had a picture taken in the Blue Room with me. I appreciate you doing that.
His Excellency John Cummings, who is the Bishop Emeritus of Oakland, California, is with us. His Excellency, thank you for being here, sir.
I appreciate Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Dorian for joining is today.
I'm sorry my neighbor, His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, is not with us, a decent man. (Laughter.) I really, really am proud to call him friend. He's a really good guy, as we say in Texas.
I appreciate you all coming, I really do. Thanks for being here.
Catholic educators share the basic conviction that every child can learn, and every child can learn to lead a life of service. That's a pretty good mission statement, isn't it? Let us teach every child to read and write and add and subtract and, as we do so, let us teach every child to serve a cause greater than self. The whole nation benefits because of the good scholars and good citizens who graduate from Catholic schools. That is a fact. (Applause.)
Through your faith in every child -- and I emphasize "every child" -- Catholic schools have overcome challenges and experienced remarkable results. It is well known that Catholic schools operate on small budgets. (Laughter.) The per-pupil cost in a Catholic school classroom is substantially below the per-pupil costs of many other schools -- public or private.
And, yet, the results are astonishing: 2.6 million students who attend Catholic schools will graduate -- that's 99 percent -- and almost all go to college. Even though the per-pupil expenditure per classroom is low, the results are extremely high. And it says something is going right -- (laughter) -- starting with the fact that Catholic schools have high expectations. You challenge what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. You believe in the worth of every person and every child. You believe that inherent in every child is the capacity to learn. And you refuse to quit on any child. (Applause.)
The Catholic schools understand that love and discipline go hand-in-hand. The Catholic schools are willing to change curriculum if it doesn't work. The Catholic schools sometimes meet longer hours than some would expect is the norm. Take LaSalle Academy, a Catholic school in Philadelphia. Students attend classes from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the school year is several weeks longer than average. Whatever it takes to make sure no child is left behind, the Catholic schools do.
In addition to learning to read and write, students take courses in computers and music and art. At David McDonough, the principal of the school said this, "We bombard them" -- that would be his students -- (laughter) -- "We bombard them with love, attention, and work -- and they thrive."
An important part of the Catholic education is the commitment to serving what our society calls the disadvantaged student, regardless of religious affiliation. I appreciate that a lot. These are the students who sometimes in the public school system are deemed to be uneducable, and, therefore, are just moved through the system. The Catholic schools have done our country a great service by a special outreach to minority children, who make up 26 percent of the enrollment of our Catholic schools. This is a great service to those children and their parents and our country.
Catholic schools have a proven record of bringing out the best in every child, regardless of their background. And every school in America should live up to that standard. We want our public schools to live up to the standard you have set in Catholic schools.
I signed what's called the No Child Left Behind Act. It is the most historic education reform in a generation. It actually passed with bipartisan support, which is unusual for Washington these days. (Laughter.) Let me tell you a little bit about the philosophy behind the law, and I think you'll find it to be reminiscent.
First, the law assumes that every child can learn, and therefore expects every child to learn. We've increased federal spending and now, for the -- at the federal level, primarily for Title I students, many of whom would be -- go to your schools, if they went to the -- would be eligible for this program if they went to public schools, many of your students would be eligible for this program. But in return we now expect results. See, we believe every child can learn and, therefore, we're saying to states, you must measure to show us whether a child has learned to read and write and add and subtract. And if not, let's solve the problem early, before it's too late.
In other words, we've introduced accountability into the system for the first time, insisted upon accountability. And then said, let's have enough money available to correct problems. And so now the states must test regularly, every year. And if the curriculum isn't working, you change it. And if it is working, there will be plenty of praise. If the math programs aren't working, change them. Because we now expect results. Because like the Catholic schools, we believe in the worth of every child. We're challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations by raising the standard and refusing to accept the status quo when our children are not learning.
We've also done something different as well. We've insisted that these schools post results. It's an interesting phenomena to see a parent react when the expectation isn't met for a public school. In other words, everything may be fine, and all of a sudden the test scores are revealed and, oops, my school is not doing like I thought it was doing and, therefore, I, a parent, should become more involved in my child's school when I see failure.
But even beyond that, we've begun introducing to the system for the first time at the federal law the capacity to take federal money and spend that money in the private sector to get special tutorials. In other words, if a child is trapped in a school which is failing and won't change, after a reasonable period of time, there is some money that follows the child and the child can take that money, the parent can take that money and get his or her child additional tutoring -- at a public facility, private charity or at a Catholic school.
And so all of a sudden the No Child Left Behind Act not only demands accountability, but we've also started to empower parents to make additional choices for their child when the child is trapped into a school that won't change. And that includes, by the way, not only private tutoring but also additional public school, a different -- in other words, what we're trying to do is introduce parental involvement through accountability standards.
Parents, I believe -- and I believe we ought to expand this opportunity further, which we're trying to do here in Washington, D.C. And I want to describe to you right quick what this administration has done, where you can help a little bit in perhaps influencing the process, to begin what I think is a major reform.
As you know, the government is responsible for much of the education in Washington, D.C. And so working with people in Congress we decided to expand on the spirit of the No Child Left Behind Act and introduce school choice here in Washington. Under this program the federal government would provide what's called scholarships to low income families with children in under-performing schools -- these families whose children clearly need better choices; if you're going to an under-performing school, you need a better choice -- would receive a scholarship of up to $7,500, federal money, to help meet the cost of tuition at any school of the parents' choice, a private school or a Catholic school, for that matter.
I suspect that this program would have a lot of takers when we can get it funded, because I think some parents, any parent, regardless of his or her income status, wants the best for their child. And when they begin to feel like the school isn't meeting the child's needs, it's just natural that they be looking for an alternative. The Catholic school system here in D.C. provides a really good alternative. And the federal government is now willing to help fund that alternative.
The good news is education is a priority in D.C. The mayor, a good fellow and a strong leader, recognizes the advantages of having a school choice program. Mayor Tony Williams is a strong supporter of the initiative we put forth on Capitol Hill. The House passed a bill that provides $14 million for this $7,500 per child scholarship program. It is a part of the Senate omnibus bill -- that's what we call it, an omnibus bill -- that has yet to be passed. The omnibus bill contains a lot of other parts of the appropriations process. The Senate is getting ready to come back into town. For the sake of educational excellence and for the sake of trusting parents to make the right decision for their children -- for the sake, really, of helping to begin a change in education around the country, for the sake of helping the Catholic schools in the D.C. area fulfill their mission, meet their obligation and to continue doing the excellent work they're doing, the Senate needs to pass this bill and make school choice in Washington, D.C., a reality. (Applause.)
I want to build on this vital reform. I'm going to ask Congress to provide $50 million new dollars in this year's budget for what we call a national choice incentive fund. The program would award federal grants to communities and organizations that help students, especially those from low income families and those trapped in under-performing schools, to find a better education; become seed money for additional programs like the D.C. choice program I just described to you.
The initiative has a simple goal, yet it's a profound goal, to help more parents to send their children to the school that is best for them, no matter what kind of school it is. When parents have more control over their children's education, children have a better chance to learn, schools have a better incentive to improve.
Much of what is behind the No Child Left Behind Act, the spirit and the philosophy of the No Child Left Behind Act came from the examples set by the Catholic schools. It's a sense of what is possible. It is a sense that everybody has worth, that each soul matters. And, therefore, we will not accept systems that just shuffle people through.
Everyone involved in the National Catholic Education Association can look back with pride over 100 years of excellence. And that's what we're here to celebrate today, 100 years of excellence. You are serving God by serving our children. You are making America a stronger and more compassionate country, one child at a time. Congratulations and thank you. (Applause.)
END 2:30 P.M. EST
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Nice to have a Prez who gets it. X42 would have been leering at the Nuns, or something...
Catholic schools carry out a great mission, to serve God by building knowledge and character of our young people.
He got that right. I'd state it formally like this. The purpose of true education is to prepare students morally and intellectually to know, love and serve God in this life and to be happy forever with Him in the next.
Although per-pupil expenditures in Catholic schools are less than half of gov't school per-pupil expenditures, Catholic schools have a tremendous advantage over gov't schools. They have a purpose. If you're trying to get somewhere, you must have somewhere to go. Government schools have as many mission statements as individual schools, because they have no overarching purpose. The only thing that identifies a gov't school is its source of funding, the taxpayer. Without a purpose, gov't schools go whichever way the wind blows.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
An important part of the Catholic education is the commitment to serving what our society calls the disadvantaged student, regardless of religious affiliation. I appreciate that a lot. These are the students who sometimes in the public school system are deemed to be uneducable, and, therefore, are just moved through the system.
The late Cardinal O'Connor of NYC demonstrated this concern:
Archives of Rudolph W. GiulianiI remember that the school board and teacher unions opposed and refused this offer. I searched around and couldn't find anything. Hopefully someone else can document the end of this story.
Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, September 15, 1996
Last week Cardinal O'Connor made a bold and compassionate offer to accept 1,000 New York City public school children in the Catholic parochial schools of our five boroughs. The Archdiocese is not attempting to lure high-achieving students away from public education. Just the opposite. They are extending a helping, caring hand to the lowest-achieving, most troubled students in our public school system.
I believe Cardinal O'Connor and the Archdiocese deserve tremendous credit for this proposal, which was made in a spirit of cooperation and concern. Cardinal O'Connor is a longtime friend of public education. The Cardinal himself attended public schools.
So the real issue here is not "Which are best -- public schools or parochial schools?" The real issue is, "Are we doing everything we can, and everything we should, to give students in New York City the best possible education?"
Cardinal O'Connor's offer gives our City an opportunity to explore new ways of improving our schools. I believe that education policies should be guided by experience. And experience shows that parochial schools provide an excellent education, and at far less cost than public schools.
Parochial schools have been especially successful in lowering administrative expenses, and in encouraging parental involvement. They are also successful with students from poor neighborhoods. Children who come from communities where danger and disorder are commonplace often have a special need for structure, order and values in the classroom. Parochial schools can help meet those needs.
I think those who criticize this plan [!], and who say it would be bad for public schools [i.e., the gov't school administration and the teacher unions], should be more open to new ideas. Especially since many of these critics are the same people who have been in charge of our public school system for the past 20 or 30 years... and who helped create many of the problems we see today.
But New York City also has many people of vision and courage [i.e., anyone that isn't associated with the government schools] who understand that Cardinal O'Connor's offer is a wonderful opportunity to help young New Yorkers succeed.
This effort has received numerous offers of private sector funding and support, which will avoid any Constitutional issues.
Rabbi Morris Sherer, president of Agudath Israel of America, which runs Jewish schools throughout our city, has pledged to make space available for low-achieving students. In fact, so many offers of support have been received, we may be able to extend the benefits of this plan to as many as 2,000 students.
I believe the bottom line is this. Learning isn't about the number of children in a school or a classroom. Learning isn't about what facilities are like. Learning isn't about space or playground equipment. Learning is about the three "R's..." reading, writing and arithmetic.
And I believe learning depends on a fourth "R", too. Responsibility.
When it comes to helping children learn and grow, the kind of personal responsibility shown by Cardinal O'Connor and Rabbi Sherer can help give our children the education that's best for them. We shouldn't be afraid of new ideas. We shouldn't be afraid of competing systems. We should be exploring every possibility and providing alternatives that fit the needs of individual children.
If we can do something to give our neediest students an education that will enable them to lead happy, productive lives, then I say "Let's give it a try."
Finally, on another subject, the Mayor's Office and the City Council are organizing a joint effort to assist the victims of "Hurricane Hortense" in Puerto Rico. Thousands of Puerto Ricans are suffering from the devastating effects of this storm.
If you would like to help, a special bank account has been activated at branches of Banco Popular. For information on how to make your contribution to this vitally important effort, please call 1-800-390-5152. Again, that's 1-800-390-5152.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.
That's why we're homeschooling. Catholic schooling is better than gov't schooling, but it's still schooling. And schooling is largely antithetical to true education, because education requires a certain amount of freedom in pursuit of truth.
Catholic schooling was necessitated by the establishment of government (i.e., Protestant) schools in the mid-1800s and the advent of compulsory attendance laws shortly thereafter, laws meant to force the children of (Irish) Catholic immigrants into the Protestant schools. Catholics had no alternative at the time but to establish their own school system.
Following the establishment of the Catholic school system, most states adopted Blaine Amendments to their constitutions which outlawed tax funds going to "private (i.e., Catholic) schools." The system continues to this day.
But prior to the historically unprecedented establishment of compulsory government schooling, Catholics were largely unschooled (not necessarily uneducated). Classical Catholic education included religious studies, of course, but centered around the study of logic, rhetoric, and grammar. The purpose of this kind of education was to train children to think clearly and to aid them in pursuing the truth.
It's no accident that these central aspects of classical Catholic education were stripped from government schools altogether. Public schooling, which traces its origins to 19th century Germany (i.e., kindergarten), was designed with the following criteria in mind.
The Prussian mind, which carried the day, held a clear idea of what centralized schooling should deliver: 1) Obedient soldiers to the army;2 2) Obedient workers for mines, factories, and farms; 3) Well-subordinated civil servants, trained in their function; 4) Well-subordinated clerks for industry; 5) Citizens who thought alike on most issues; 6) National uniformity in thought, word, and deed.Unfortunately, Catholic schools have adopted the methodology of socialized schooling while maintaining only to a very limited degree the hallmarks of a true Catholic education. Tragically, classical Catholic education has been coopted. This may have been what Bishop Sheen meant when he said that, "I'd prefer a Catholic child to attend a public school and have to fight for his faith than for him to attend a Catholic school and lose his faith."
Hm. I don't understand. Why would the school board and the teachers' union have anything to say about this? If 1000 kids want to leave the public schools and the Catholic schools are willing to take them, where do the school board or the teachers' union come in?
The best education you can give your kids is to tell them yourself about Jesus and His Church which mediates His Salvific Grace through the Sacramental System He established.
All the rest is, relatively, inconsequential - eschatologically speaking
They wouldn't have any jurisdiction, but that doesn't mean that they don't have an interest in the plan. Each student marching out the door represents a check from the state and federal governments (and a blow against the Empire). Plus, success with the untouchables wouldn't make them look good.