In today’s Detroit News, Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico writes that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should consider the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity before weighing in on education reform. In his essay, “Localize, Don’t Politicize, Our Schools,” Fr. Sirico notes that he is the priest of a parish that hosts pre-school and K-12 education, which daily brings him face-to-face with parents who make considerable sacrifices on behalf of educating their children.
I know too many parents who ardently desire alternatives to whatever au courant pedagogical methods are often untested yet still implemented in our government-run counterparts but aren’t well-connected, don’t have the freedom or the means to choose the education best for their children.
That’s sadly because parents who send their children to parochial schools in the United States pay twice for their children’s education: once in taxes that underwrite a sprawling, national public-education complex, and again in tuition for the smaller, personalized schools that their children actually attend.
Fr. Sirico explains the root of this issue is anti-Catholic prejudice from the Know Nothing era of American history, wherein Protestants sought to limit Catholic immigration and influence. However, imposing a federal mandate to rectify holdovers from an era of anti-Catholic sentiments is wrong, asserts Fr. Sirico. In this, he agrees with U.S. Education Sec. Betsy DeVos, who expressed similar education policy goals aligned with subsidiarity – needs are best met at the local level. “[W]hat works in one state may not work in another. An ‘opt-in’ approach is more desirable to top-heavy federal mandates and is more manageable at the local level. States, and for that matter, municipalities, would have flexibility to provide education freedom to families who know better than federal planners.”