In honor of Catholic Schools Week, President Obama at a White House ceremony last week recognized nine Catholic teachers as “Champions of Catholic Education.”
This recognition came days after the president announced his mandate to force Catholic schools, hospitals and other affiliated organizations to cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization services in violation of their religious freedom and in clear contradiction to their conscience. While the ceremony provided good press for Mr. Obama, it is clear that the President has little concern for the religious freedom of Catholic institutions and cares even less for the advancement of Catholic Education in our nation.
Catholic Schools Week is not about press conferences and photo ops, but rather provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of these schools not only for our Church but also for our country. National studies indicate that parents choose Catholic education for their children for three important reasons: higher academic achievement of Catholic school students, a safe and disciplined learning environment and a comprehensive education including Catholic religious education and strong moral values. Often overlooked is the fact that Catholic schools also provide a very substantial financial gift - nationally, they save millions of dollars for state and local school districts. Many of our Catholic schools serve non-Catholics, especially in the inner-city where families are forced to flee a failing public school system. Catholic School parents make tremendous personal and financial sacrifice to ensure their children a quality Catholic education despite little help from President Obama and his allies. Catholic Schools provide a first class education with few financial resources.
Truly we should be celebrating the great success of Catholic Schools this week. It is clear that President Obama could do much more for low-income families of Catholic school students but seemingly has sacrificed Catholics in favor of political advancement. Mr. Obama can begin his support by overturning his mandate. He might also support educational choice for families through a national drive for vouchers. Yet we know this can never happen with a President who is more interested in the dictates of his radical pro-abortion allies and serves only the powerful special interest of teachers’ unions. Catholic School students, teachers and families deserve more respect and demand more interest than a president who hands out plaques and platitudes while at the same time attacking the very foundations of the Catholic Faith.