Implosion of Catholic Schools: catholic phobia from within

TORONTO – Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for all children as they grow while learning social and academic skills. Increasingly, they manifest dysfunctionalities all too often resulting in violence. This has not been a good year for schools in Toronto and elsewhere. 

Their leadership and their teachers seem to have lost their sense of purpose. It would be wrong to paint everyone with the same brush.

At the very least, schools (and their staff) should reflect their role in loco parentis, surrogates of those who entrust their children to their care.  Assuming, that is, they have a common view of family and the role of parents in the raising of their children.

Parents in the York Catholic District School Board, concerned with what was being taught to their children, properly delegated their objections to deviations from what they viewed as the Catholic values which form the bases for the existence of the Board’s schools.

Their expectations are rooted in a “historic compromise” that resulted in what are referred to as “denominational rights” in the Constitution Act, buttressed by the Education Act, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by the Human Rights Code.

The interpretation of those Catholic ideologies (agree or not) rests exclusively with the magisterium. It is not within the purview of either boards of trustees, nor of their senior administrative staff, to interpret. Most especially is not a duty or right of hired teachers to be arbiters.

Yet. The Director of Education calls some rogue members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association “partners”, even as they apparently taunted those parents and called on the local police to disperse parents. Reports indicate as many as seven cruisers showed up in the space of minutes.

The director issued and explanation effectively exculpating everyone. He and senior staff could engage in activity inconsistent with the ethic of the Board “based on their personal beliefs”. He felt it to be an “operational” matter not requiring of trustees’ input. Strange.

Parents may wish to challenge that interpretation and already there are movements afoot to so organize. If they do, the director, trustees and OECTA may be held liable. If they don’t people may rightly ask what is the difference between Catholic schools and non?