Are Catholic Schools better than Public?

Either kids have just started a new school year or their first day is right around the corner. For many parents it’s a time of stress – wondering if we’re doing all we can to ensure the best education for our kids future.

I remember when my daughter was getting ready to start kindergarten. I wanted her to attend Catholic school because I had. However when, true to myself, I questioned the curriculum, I was told “If you’re concerned about academics, you should look into Westminster or Woodward Academy.” Of course I was concerned about academics! Are religion and academics mutually exclusive?Well, my daughter ended up in the public system and it couldn’t have worked out better for both of us. She is now in High School and has to date, thrived academically while still keeping on her Christian/Catholic moral track (and of course periodically testing the boundaries!) Honestly, I am rather pleased with the system she is in. The area we live in is pretty conservative and on occasions that I have thought there may be some discussions contrary to our faith; I have withheld permission for her to participate.

I have unfortunately had to keep her at a distance from some kids in our social circle who are in the Catholic School system. We know kids who are promiscuous, dress and act in a vulgar and disrespectful manner, indulge in controlled substances and end up in trouble with the law or the community. Of course all of this happens in the public schools as well but no one really expects otherwise there.One of my good friends, “Sam”, was devastated because his daughter made poor choices and he was blamed by other parents because she was a bad influence on their kids. So not only did he suffer the huge let down by his daughter but he also suffered alienation and verbal attacks from other “Catholic Moms”!

One incident involved underage drinking in a public location and lying to their parents. The kids implicated already have their parents’ blessing (and $$) to dress and act in a provocative manner so I am confused as to why their parents are shocked at their choices. It seems a logical progression to me. Can we really give someone a ticking time bomb and not expect destruction? One almost fifteen year old girl was given permission by her parents to “date” and “kiss and mild making out – but no further”. These same parents were afraid to leave her alone…???

This begs the question: Are Catholic Schools really better for our kids? My conclusion is: NOT NECESSARILY. The main purpose of Catholic schools is to form students in Catholic faith, morality and social values. Often however, they promote a secular thought process (think Georgetown, Notre Dame). We parents may enroll our kids in the best schools that money can buy but when we abdicate our parental duties of guidance, supervision and discipline we actually participate in their harm. Our children’s souls are entrusted to us parents – not the schools or the government. Ps. 127:3 – “children are a gift of the Lord…”  On the Day of Judgment, it won’t matter what schools we attended or what schools we sent our kids to. We will however be accountable for the gift of life that was entrusted to us. Before you jump off the cliff accusing me of suggesting Catholic Schools are not GOOD for our kids, note that I am suggesting that IF we as parents, abdicate our role as CATHOLIC parents, it doesn’t make a difference WHERE our kids attend school – the outcome will probably be negative. However, IF we as Catholic Parents, take our role seriously, it really doesn’t matter where our kids attend school – the outcome will probably be positive.

In the situation with Sam’s daughter, whatever happened to letting our own kids take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming another kid? Sure there are negative influences all around but we have to hold them accountable for their choices – especially in high school where they have the capacity to think rationally. Blaming someone else actually gives the “child” permission to repeat their poor choices and allows us as parents to absolve ourselves of the responsibility of nurturing their soul. By expecting no accountability from them, we ourselves display a total lack of responsibility and accountability.

It is easy to point the finger elsewhere isn’t it? Our society today actually expects and helps us do this. A few days ago we all heard of Prince Harry making a fool of himself running around in the buff with strangers. The media faulted his security for allowing phones and cameras – actually calling it “Hollywood 101”. So if cameras were NOTallowed, the behavior would be acceptable – and “Princely”?  Our kids are watching and learning from us – good, bad and ugly.

If we lack accountability and discipline, can we expect it of them?

If we treat others poorly, can we expect Christian Charity from them?

If we are loud and overindulgent can we expect them to act with reserve and prudence?

If we ignore and condone their poor choices, can we expect them NOT to fail?

Can we expect them to follow our words NOT our actions?  CONTINUED

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Marisa Pereira is a mother, fashion designer, currently runs a Design and Image Consulting business in Atlanta, GA, is a freelance writer and volunteers at her church and in the community. She holds a BA in Fashion Design and a BA in French with a minor in Psychology and has worked in the Fashion Industry for over twenty years. Frustrated at her inability to find appropriate church clothes for her 14 year old daughter, she heeded God’s call, and created the stylish but modest, Michaela-Noel clothing collection, now available on-line. Having lived in multiple countries, she is acutely aware of the emphasis cultures place on visual appeal. She analyzes the importance of presenting the best image of ourselves and passionately insists that it starts within. She regularly addresses adult and youth audiences – encouraging and teaching them to make a memorable first impact but more importantly - to create a lasting impression. Her websites are: and

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