Amy at Texas Faith: Faith-based schools or public schools?

TEXAS FAITH: Which should it be for people of faith: Faith-based schools or public schools?

Question by

Are people of faith better off focusing their attention on education to schools that reflect their own tradition?

Of course, I imagine most of you think that public schools are valuable. Many of us probably attended them.

But if you really want to make an education dent, especially getting students to discuss God and larger issues of moral consequence, couldn’t one argue that schools that represent the values of a particular faith tradition are the better place to start?

Certainly, Catholic schools have produced strong results. Speaking at the Bush Institute conference, Father Tim Scully of Notre Dame claimed that 99 percent of students in Catholic high schools graduate. Eighty-five percent of those graduates, he said, attend college. And Latino and African-American students who attend Catholic school are two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college.

Where should people of faith put their focus on education, especially in our big cities? How would you try to move the needle, as the expression goes?

Read the Panel

AMY MARTIN, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor Moonlady News Newsletter

Show me 150 high schoolers and I’ll show you 150 ways to learn. In spite of being a bookish student, I would have floundered in a Catholic school. Allowed the freedom to guide my education at an unusual prep school called Walden, I graduated high school a year early with college-level skills in English and science.

Let children learn, from books and computers and from the laboratory of life. If they are visual learners, present it visually. If audio-learners, then then teach with the spoken word rather than reading. If they need to learn marine biology hands-on by creating an artificial salt-water environment, as I did, let them.

“Teach how to learn and the education takes care of itself,” my father was fond of saying. Take a cue from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Create a passion for what the human mind is capable of and instill wonder at being part of an epic human journey of intellectual discovery that is nowhere near its end.

Science, technology, engineering and math, as showcased in the STEM school programs, are the future wave, one best set free in an ocean free of specific doctrine and dogma that might constrain its gifts, and free to be ethically shaped by the tenants of many faiths and philosophies.