Ask an Apostle: Should I send my kids to Catholic school?

Teresa Coda answers your questions this week.
Catholic Voices

Got a burning question? Click here to Ask an Apostle.

Q: It’s time to decide where to send our oldest child to school for kindergarten. We are torn between our neighborhood public school and our parish school. Both my husband and I attended Catholic schools growing up and had relatively positive experiences. (I have many friends who went to public schools and had equally positive experiences.) Our Catholic faith is important to us in many ways. We attend Mass weekly, celebrate Catholic traditions, and raise our sons to know the church and Jesus Christ.

That said, we disagree with some of the church’s teachings on social and political issues, and we worry that we’ll be “unteaching” them things they learn in a Catholic school. I don’t want to confuse them with mixed messages. But I also want to raise thoughtful sons who consider all sides of an issue. I’m not confident that a Catholic school religion class will “consider all sides” (and I’m not sure I could hide my deep disagreement on some topics). We feel truly torn on how to include our Catholic faith in our sons’ education. Help!

—Classroom Conundrums 


A: Making choices about education is one of the more difficult junctures that young parents face, if you ask me. There are many points to consider, but let’s start with the one you mention: the instruction that your sons will receive on certain social and political issues. You bring up a good and, at least by my estimation, accurate point when you say that a Catholic school religion class likely won’t “consider all sides” of an issue. But isn’t that true of any class at any school? As the saying goes, “all news is biased.” The same can be said of education. There will be limits to what your sons learn in school, and you’ll likely cringe at various points over the next decade or so as you hear about what they learn.

That being said, I think the thing to consider is less what specifically your sons will learn at the public or Catholic school and more what the general atmosphere and ethos is of the different schools. How do you feel about the ways that both schools approach state testing? How about discipline? Do you like the idea of your kids’ starting and ending their school day with prayer? What covers the cafeteria bulletin boards? What books fill their libraries? When you take school tours, what vibes do you get from the already-enrolled children? Do you know any parents of these children? If so, what do they have to say about the school?

As you consider these questions and discern your decision, remember this: Your kids will spend more of their childhood hours out of school than in it. Whatever choice you make, your kids will have a solid foundation for faith and virtuous lives based on the way you and your husband operate in the world.

­—Teresa Coda

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

Add comment