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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  1. I would assert that any school teaching literature is teaching values. It’s hard not to focus on the hopeless idealism of the American Dream/American Nightmare fueled by rampant excess and materialism in Gatsby. Huck struggles with issues of morality throughout his adventures. There is certainly morality at work in To Kill a Mockingbird. Clearly, literature and the humanities is the conduit though which cultural morality is purveyed.

  2. Clearly, literature and the humanities is the conduit though which cultural morality is purveyed.

    That would be funny, if it weren’t pathetic. Che Guevara T-shirts are “cultural morality”?

    And this teacher needs either to be sent back to high school to re-take civics, or fired:

    On his first day of eighth grade at the former Holy Name Roman Catholic school last fall, Jeffrey Stone bowed his head, clasped his hands and began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Within seconds, his teacher chided him: “We don’t do that anymore.”

    “I was shocked,” recalled Jeffrey, 13, who played on the Catholic youth basketball team and relied on his school’s pastor-in-residence for advice. “I was like, how am I going to survive?”

    It’s none of the teacher’s business if the student prays or not, and it’s certainly way out of line for the teacher to say, “We don’t do that anymore.” Worse, we actually have here a student with morals, who is now going to have them stripped away (well, they will try), to be replaced with, no doubt, “cultural morality.”

    Pardon me. I think I’m going to be ill.

  3. Wow, I don’t see how my comment about the moral struggle of Huck relates to Che Guevara shirts. Perhaps you can enlighten me. I should say that literature and humanities is “a” conduit, not “the conduit.”

    The second example is, I agree, ridiculous. Does that have anything to do with the teaching of literature, or was that just another example of a bad teacher. There are a few out there, regardless of our idealism.