Penn Live recently hosted a live chat question and answer with Bishop McFadden of the diocese of Harrisburg. During the chat he fielded two questions regarding education and school choice. Below are the questions and his answers. It is great to see his strong answers in support of parental involvement and school choice in Pennsylvania. Visit Penn Live to view the transcript of the whole chat.
Question from Guest:
Hello! Thank you for taking time to answer our questions. I was wondering if you are aware of / and how you feel about the Common Core education standards that have been adopted by PA and now by the Harrisburg Diocese, and if you are concerned about the impact this will have on parental rights, public intrusion in the Catholic schools, a national standard that seeks a one-size-fits all approach, and privacy, with the vast data requirements that will follow children from pre-k through college and the workplace.
Response from Bishop McFadden:
The question about schools is very important to me, and would suggest is important to Pope Francis because he is an educator. I believe very much in parental rights. In our country, the educational system has become an educational monopoly of the government. While there have been battles over school choice, i believe the real issue is parental rights. I believe that parents have an inalienable right to choose the education that best meets the needs of their child. Children belong to parents, not to the state.
I think that the common standards are a beginning point in helping us to ensure that children have a minimal education. But they should only be the starting point. We need to seek a system that is less concerned about standards and is more concerned about helping each child achieve their educational potential. Standards may make us feel good, but they do not accomplish the task. We will be better off when we get parents back involved in the education of their children. This is especially true for the poor parents who, in many urban areas, are consigned to a failing school system, as though the parents are not able to recognize what is best for their children.
Question from @ethanD
Thank you for your answer about Common Core as a good starting point and for your comments that getting parents more engaged in their children’s education. What are some ways that a local parish or the diocese of Harrisburg could better train parents to be involved in their child’s education? Home education is a good option for some but how about training for parents with children in public, private or parochial schools.
Response from Bishop McFadden:
I am very happy to take this question! This has been one of my desires and hopes since becoming the bishop of Harrisburg. Catholic education, whether in Catholic schools or religious education programs, is bound to fail unless parents are intimately involved in the education of their children. I intend to launch (in the near future) more programs in the Diocese which will help parents learn better how to teach their children, particularly in the beliefs of our faith.