Bill serves parochial, public communities
A bill sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, which allows failing parochial schools to change into public charter schools instead of closing down altogether, passed the State Senate yesterday. Obviously, if a school chose to follow this route, they would have to remove religious aspects of their curricula, do away with religious symbols in classrooms and possibly change their names, if the name in question involves a reference to a religious figure or concept. We think Lesniak’s bill is a great idea, as it tackles two problems at once. On the one hand, it offers help to parochial schools, many of which are having trouble maintaining high enough enrollment rates to keep themselves afloat. At the same time, it also follows along the lines of Gov. Chris Christie’s push for the institution of charter schools as an alternative to struggling, under-funded public schools.
The bill, of course, would not allow just any struggling parochial school to save itself by converting into a charter school. Only schools that perform well, but are situated in communities where the public schools are not up to snuff, have the option to become charter schools. In today’s economy, it has become hard for many families to pay the high tuition rates of parochial schools. As a result, many schools that are otherwise top-notch have found themselves on rocky footing. This bill is a way to prevent the utter shutdown of these schools. We need all the good schools we can get, charter or otherwise.
As stated above, the bill does not just serve the parochial school community. It also serves the general public, by turning these schools into public charter schools, which more people would have access to. Similarly, since the schools must be located in places where the public school system is in need of repair, these parochial-turned charter schools can fill the great voids which are causing children all over New Jersey to suffer due to poor access to quality educations.
While some members of the Catholic community in particular are opposed to the bill, saying that changing parochial schools into charter schools takes away their Catholic value, we can’t help but assert that such transitions have the potential to serve the greater good of the community at large. Isn’t that in line with Catholic values?