From Parochial to Public

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Father Kieran Harrington, spokesman for the Brooklyn Diocese, talks about working with the city to transform four Catholic schools into charter schools.


Kieran Harrington

Comments [14]

Connie from Westchester

The person who suggested that the city utilise the unused buildings, formerly used as parochial schools, is on to something. Why not let us all be a bit more practical and less confrontational?

We have children to educate. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

Mar. 05 2009 10:16 PM
ceolaf from brooklyn

There is no such thing as "secular religion." The former is defined as not the latter.

I understand why the religious want to refer to "secular religion" when they are challenged about the separation of church and state, but that doesn't make it valid.

Talk to religious people -- those whom others would label 'observant' or 'devout' -- and I think you've find that their beliefs have something in common.

* An origin/creation story.
* Moral stricture.
* Reference to mean/purpose of life, at least of death.
* Claims of universality.
* Reference to an external god or the supernatural that unites these pieces.

I don't think that the devoutly religious would take a group claiming religious status seriously if it lacked that last point. And few non-religious would label it a religion either (at not when pressed, "Is that *really* a religion?").

Sure, there are secular equivalents to some aspects of religion, but that doesn't make for a secular religion. Pig hearts are a lot of human hearts, but we don't think that pigs are humans. Not all distinct cultures are religions. Not all belief systems are religions. Not all value systems are religions. Not all creation stories are religions.

I know Brian (rightly) does not want to argue with is guests, but this claim of secular religion is such a common dodge from serious questions that I do not think that he should just let it slide by.

Mar. 03 2009 11:16 AM
Connie from Westchester

I completely agree with the caller who states that education in catholic schools is far superior to that in public schools. I have experienced both as a teacher and as a student.
Just take a look at the parochial school students on the subway in their uniforms, the boys wear ties at school and the girls wear skirts (not jeans). I am not implying that the outfits indicate a superior education but they do signify that the students are being trained to conform to a work ethic when they become responsible adults.

Mar. 03 2009 11:06 AM
Harvey Bernstein from Yonkets, NY

I found the father disingenuous on a number of points. In particular, I found it offensive when he referred to 'secular beliefs' as a 'kind of religion'. Religion is based on faith, revelation and authority; all things that cannot be directly tested or disputed. The secular is based on direct, observable, repeatable facts. In the end it is possible for both to show truth, but they are in no way the same.

I chose that as a particularly offensive equivocation. He made other such comments on sex education and other issues that the Catholic Church in its position as arbiter of what is taught in its 'charter' schools would control.

I do not wish to finance that.

Mar. 03 2009 10:51 AM
Bo from Brooklyn

The priest would have a real problem if we were to refer to his "religion" as a superstition...why does he get to refer to secular rationalism as "secular religion"? It is not a religion...that's the whole point.

Mar. 03 2009 10:44 AM
Lori from Queens

My mom is an administrator at a charter school in Youngstown, Ohio that used to be a Catholic school, and it is her responsibility to make sure they adhere to federal and state regulations, while maintaining their philanthropic mission. And I think you should hire her because I really want her to move to New York!

Mar. 03 2009 10:38 AM
Erin from Astoria

"Love" as a response to the question of fourth-grade sex ed in a Catholic charter school is wildly inappropriate.

As a former charter school teacher at the high-school level--and as a Catholic--I hope more rational minds prevail and establish some clear standards way before these school transformations take place.

Mar. 03 2009 10:36 AM
Meryl from Brooklyn

The argument that being Catholic wouldn't impact schools because doesn't impact hospital isn't accurate. There are many Catholic hospitals that won't provide basic women's health care - like performing tubal ligations or giving our birth control - becuase of the religious beliefs.

Mar. 03 2009 10:35 AM
robert from park slope

I have no problem with the city opening a limited number of chartered schools in conjunction w/the Catholic church. Separately, the city should be looking to rent space from the recently closed parochial schools to reduce overcrowding.

Mar. 03 2009 10:35 AM
hjs from 11211

should an organization so conservative and out of touch with mainstream amerika and with it's molestation history have anything to do with education?

Mar. 03 2009 10:35 AM
Anni from Upper West Side

Brian - Yes, charters are 'public' schools but they are VERY different from regular DOE public schools. Please talk about accountability, funding, performance, unions etc.

Mar. 03 2009 10:31 AM
Beth Servetar from Manhattan

Why must the city jump right to the selection of charters as opposed to opening regular public schools? It is outrageous! We have seen this happening all over upper Manhattan, sidestepping parents, administrators and even the city's elected parent bodies which are supposed to vet such things. The city needs to invest resources in improving its public schools.

I hope you will discuss the enrollment levels, student populations and community feelings about the current public schools in this neighborhood.

Mar. 03 2009 10:07 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Communities are changing across this city. My friends in some Brooklyn public schools report that their schools are half empty and are being considered for charter schools.

Mar. 03 2009 09:42 AM
anonymous from Queens

(1) There are other City public schools located in rented space (from converted warehouses to the lower floors of high rise apartment buildings). Are we going to start letting all those landlords have a say in choosing the curriculum?

(2)Can the City now convert other private schools into public schools and give preference to students who's parents had been paying $30,000 in tuition ?

This deal sets some bad precedents that go beyond the obvious issues of church and state.

Mar. 03 2009 07:30 AM

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