Teaching values in an ex-Catholic school

D.C. Catholic schools that converted to public, secular charter schools still teach values, reports the New York Times.

Holy Name,  the Trinidad Campus of Center City Public Charter Schools, serves predominantly low-income black students.

Where mornings at Holy Name began with the Lord’s Prayer, Trinidad students start each day with a recitation of the school honor code: “I will arrive at school each day on time and ready to work. I will treat all with respect and dignity. I will solve any conflicts that arise peacefully. I will care for and protect our environment.”

Enrollment is up now that there’s no tuition to pay. Most students came from public schools. Most teachers are Holy Name veterans, including a few nuns.

Classrooms are filled with discussions not of the Bible and Jesus but of 10 “core values” — perseverance and curiosity, for instance — that are woven into the curriculum.

. . . Students are constantly prompted by teachers to relate their studies — whether in history, science or art — back to the core values. One day last week, (fourth-grade teacher Barbara) Williams circulated around the classroom, posing questions about the assigned short stories in their literature textbook. What value was that selfish king missing? What did the seamstress’s hard work demonstrate?

The new charters have a lot more money to spend than they did as private schools: Funding averages $11,879 for each student, up from $7,500.  That’s enabled Trinidad to raise teacher pay by 22 percent, hire a special education instructor, buy science laboratory kits and replace 13-year-old social studies books.

Some New York City Catholic schools, at risk of closing due to lack of funds, may convert to charters.

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