Break the Vow of Silence

Aug 17, 2012

A parochial school parent recently asked me if it’s too late to transfer their child to a voucher school. After going through the labyrinth of enrollment rules, I asked, “Why do you want to transfer?” The parent replied, “I don’t know if my daughter is learning.”
The State Superintendent of Louisiana public schools has refused to oblige the Associated Press’ request to share the process used to select schools in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature voucher program. Superintendent John White’s delay comes after revelations of some dubious schools that have been selected to receive slots for voucher students.
Aside from the administration’s pillory by the usual suspects of media, legislators and advocates, parents and faith-based organizations have been conspicuously absent from criticizing. Public and private school parents can’t completely rely on the press to get information on who’s running our schools. Also, parents should have more information on how well the school did in the past.
For decades, the private and parochial sectors have exercised their privilege to use different metrics and to keep those measures relatively confidential — to what end?
David Brin wrote, “When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.” Arguments against increasing transparency for voucher schools are as hypocritical as the people who make them. Parents and the business community have an interest in knowing how all schools are performing. In addition, they’re simply too many charlatans posing as pastors, preachers and ministers who want to run schools. These people should have no business running schools to promote their nonsense and greed.
Most importantly, faith-based organizations should apply a moral framework in all its endeavors. Parochial schools are not business partners with the State. Quality faith-based providers should want to distinguish themselves from the used-car salesmen who are looking for vouchers to bail out their flailing businesses (eeh hem, schools).
Moreover, the tradition around parochial school privacy should not dissuade parents from asking how these schools are doing and who’s running them. The press is currently bearing the burden of the rest of our community.
I understand the politics of Gov. Jindal’s education agenda. I also understand John White’s administrative actions. New-aged superintendents act more like political appointees than authorities. However, I don’t understand why parents and administrators of faith-based organizations aren’t demanding that a moral lens be applied in the selection of who should receive vouchers.
As I do for our schools, I pray that our faith-based organizations stand up for quality. It’s time to break the vow of silence.