President Trump’s reversal of his predecessor’s ham-fisted attempt to enforce a nationwide policy of transgender accommodations in our schools does not mean the “Bathroom Wars” are over, not by a long shot. Despite historic setbacks at the federal and state levels, liberals still maintain largely uncontested one-party rule in our cities and school boards. Whatever the actions within the Trump Administration, the culture of relativism which even goes so far as to deny objective truths of biological reality remains dominant. Faced with this daunting challenge, faithful American Catholic families must now put forth an exceptional effort to provide for a robust and solid education for our children in a way that we have not had to do in many decades, or perhaps since frontier times.
It is by now a cliché that public schools are rife with all manner of social experiments at the expense of what was previously understood to be their core mission of basic grammar, arithmetic, art, history, and science education. There are numerous examples of math and grammar homework questions which have departed from the mundane formulae of two trains leaving St. Louis or stories about Jack and Jane playing with a ball which once formed the universal common experience of primary education in favor of radical progressive subtexts promoting LGBTQ or Islamic agendas. In higher education, our Western civilizational patrimony of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Chaucer, Cervantes, and Shakespeare is no longer taught because these literary and philosophical giants supposedly represent the patriarchal oppression of white men.
Given this morass of education today, even many non-Catholic families in urban areas prefer to send their children to private schools. As a consequence, many Catholic parish schools have a minority of Catholic students and although they may try to promote a strong Catholic identity, there is a tension between the Catholic mission to raise strong families formed by the faith as well as our duty to care for the corporal needs of our fellow man regardless of religion. Additionally, while voucher programs are a great boon to Catholic schools by reducing the financial burden of a quality education for families that would not otherwise have the means to do so, in the short term, this only intensifies the competition for scarce resources and distorts the costs of private school in general. In time, this may lead to building more schools and expanding admissions to meet the demand, but for now, many parents do not have this option.
As a consequence, homeschooling is becoming more attractive and not only for Catholics. Whether to escape progressive indoctrination, or simply because of the dismal outcomes of public schools, or because the high cost of private school makes it unattainable for many, homeschooling is a difficult but also rewarding choice for parents. Despite stereotypes, there is ample evidence which shows that homeschooled children have better social skills than their classroom-educated peers, as well as better academic outcomes. The challenge for many parents is how to structure a curriculum, a need which is met by numerous online resources such as the Mother of Divine Grace School, the Angelicum Academy, the Thomas Aquinas Academy, the Seton Home Study School and many others. For parents looking for a hybrid approach that provides some classroom time to augment home study without the high cost of traditional private schools, there is also the Regina Caeli program which has many physical locations around the country and continues to expand.
As Catholic parents entrusted with the formation of faith and intellectual curiosity of our children, sending them to public schools is to cast them into a brood of vipers who are ready to poison their minds and strangle their creative spirit with joyless conformity to a totalitarian leftist ideology. This politicization of every aspect of life not only reigns in academia, but in the media and entertainment industry, and is even beginning to gain a foothold in the world of sports, despite the obvious fact that in a contest of raw physical ability, the innate differences between the sexes cannot be imagined away by wishful thinking. Fortunately, faithful Catholic parents have choices that make the “Bathroom Wars” largely irrelevant, at least during the tender and formative years of our children’s education.