With all due respect, Fr. Stravinskas...you are absolutely wrong

I was astonished when I first read an Our Sunday Visitor article in which Fr. Peter Stravinskas rips apart homeschooling. Did I say I was astonished? Jaw-droppingly so. And horrified at the seriously high level of ignorance about home education in general and the motivations of Catholic home educators specifically. I can't help but believe it has something to do with the fact that he is the executive director for an organization that exists to build up institutional Catholic schools. Even so, I find the level of ignorance (and a touch of bitterness?) shocking.

In an age when Catholic school religious education is so completely ineffective that most students leave their faith at the school door on graduation day - forever- Father cites the "derth of vocations" in homeschooling families as proof that Catholic home education stinks. He says, "Why would you want to join a club if its' members can't be trusted to do their jobs?"

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I could not hold back the tears when I read that line... that terrible accusation of failure leveled in general at all Catholic home educators. We know our failures when it comes to raising our children. I know how short I fall on a daily basis. I also know one mistake that I have not made:

I have not stopped homeschooling my children to please ignorant people. And I have not enrolled my children in any of the failing Catholic parish schools in my area. I see what they produce and I am not impressed.

I suppose Father would rather have me enroll my 11-year old daughter in my parish school so that she could learn to "love" Justin Bieber and kiss boys. Perhaps he thinks an education in bullying is in order. Or that she should be more limited in her choice of textbooks and reading material. He clearly thinks it's unhealthy for mother and daughter to spend so much time together and that she would be better off with a room full of peers and a teacher who barely knows her and may or may not even be a practicing Catholic.

I know for a fact that Father does not know the indescribable joy and beauty of home-based education. He could not possibly or he wouldn't have the confidence to suggest that I am likely psychologically unhealthy for being with my kids so often, that I am teaching anti-clericalism by example to my kids (seriously?) or that we somehow intend to set up a "church within a church."

I detect a serious amount of something like bitterness in Father's tone. I don't understand it but it does hurt. The fact that his words are on a prominent Catholic news source is so disappointing. In fact, it makes my stomach hurt. I do not understand the need for this division. In fact, it is my opinion that pastors everywhere should actively advocate and support homeschooling in their parishes even if they have a parish school.

Institutional model schooling is an educational methodology not a teaching of the Catholic Church. And last I heard...

"The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute."
 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2221)

Father Stravinskas believes that the main responsibility of catechesis rests on the shoulders of the pastor, not the parents. Even if this did not directly contradict the explicit teaching of the Church, I question such wisdom that would make one (likely overworked) pastor primarily accountable for each and every child in his parish. Does he forget the role and vocation of the parents? It is not the vocation of my pastor to raise my children.

I realize that Father Stravinskas is not a parent and that this can sometimes make all the difference in perspective. He does not have a little band of immortal souls to care for night and day. And it is clear that he does not realize the implications of asking every parent to hand over the spiritual care of their children to a school system. But I also think he's old enough and intelligent enough to get this one right.

I'm posting the link to his article here, not to spread the ignorance, but to inform the faithful homeschooling families out there of yet another attack... this time, from someone we have trusted. Our first responsibility is to the defense of our families. If Father insists on attacking, I will step up and be among those who say: 

Father, I have the utmost respect for the office of your priesthood, but you are absolutely wrong about this and should be publicly challenged. Your words will cause unnecessary division among the members of the Body of Christ and hurt Catholic families.

My detailed response to his points will come another day. Right now, I would like to go spend time with my kids and they would like to spend time with me. I know, I know... those homeschoolers are weird like that.
Posted on May 29, 2011 and filed under "home education".