Wednesday, February 1, 2012

School choice, Catholic schools, gay parents, and Archbishop Chaput

I meant to make mention of Ronnie Polanecsky's excellent column yesterday in the Daily News, pointing out that while Archbishop Charles Chaput is pushing for a state law that would, essentially, direct taxpayer money to Philadelphia's Catholic schools, his subordinates are also making it virtually impossible for Catholic families to choose which Catholic school they want to attend. His notion of "school choice" then, is one in which the church gets to choose—not you.

Since Chaput seems to be putting his muscle behind this effort, though, I feel it's important to point out something: Chaput was the archbishop in Denver when a Catholic school there rejected a student because that student had two mommies.

Now: I don't like that, but that's certainly the right of a church-affiliated private school.

But I also don't really want my tax dollars to subsidize discrimination against my gay neighbors, either.

If Chaput can promise that Catholic schools will take any student—basically, if Catholic schools will take any student that public schools take, and respect their rights to conscience like any public school would—I might sign on to his efforts: I wouldn't mind have some options beyond Philadelphia's public schools. But I don't think Chaput can or will do so—Catholic organizations are increasingly abandoning public service rather than have to serve or recognize the rights of gays. I don't begrudge them that choice: They have to obey their own consciences. I don't choose, however, to subsidize the Catholic conscience with public money.

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