Monday, February 16, 2009
NYC Plan to Convert Catholic Schools to Charter Schools Faces Opposition
NY Times: Hurdles for a Plan to Turn Catholic Classrooms Into Charter Schools, by Javier Hernandez:
To the Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, it seemed like an act of salvation on par with Noah and the ark. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg heralded it as a “win-win situation.”
They had unveiled a plan to convert four Catholic schools scheduled for closing into public charter schools, giving their students and teachers a soft landing and avoiding a crippling infusion of children into crowded neighborhood schools. But despite the celebratory air this month as Mr. Bloomberg and the bishop, Nicholas A. DiMarzio, announced the idea, the plan faces significant legal, political and educational hurdles....
The obvious First Amendment issues may be among the easiest to resolve, legal and educational experts say. Crucifixes would be obscured, proselytizing by teachers would be banned during school hours and religious portions of the curriculum would be jettisoned. But what about the city’s required fourth-grade health curriculum? The church objects to the sex-education components on moral grounds, and in several cases where the city already leases school buildings from the diocese, conflicts have been avoided by moving students off campus for the health portion.