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Pope Francis and School Choice11 Apr

By: Andrew J. VandiverID-10069170

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis addressed issues related to marriage and the family. The document has received a great deal of media coverage and it will shape the way that the Church discusses these issues moving forward.  One important section of the exhortation focused on reaffirming the Church’s traditional teaching on the primary role of parents in the area of education.

In Paragraph 84, Pope Francis strongly sets forth that education is the “primary right” of parents. This is not simply a task for the parents to accomplish, but rather an “essential and inalienable right.”  The government’s role is to support the parents in the exercise of this right, not to replace them.  While the government offers educational opportunities, “parents themselves enjoy the right to choose freely the kind of education – accessible and of good quality – which they wish to give their children in accordance with their convictions.”

Pope Francis’ statements on education reflect the moral dimension of the issue of school choice. This is not simply a matter of policy.  Instead, we have to ask ourselves whether the current educational environment in our country supports parents as the primary educators of their children.  Further, does the current environment allow for all parents, not just the affluent, to exercise the fundamental right to “choose a school for their children which corresponds to their own personal convictions.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2229).

It is not enough for policymakers to simply say that parents have the “right” to choose their children’s school without providing concrete conditions necessary for exercise of this right.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2229). In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (#72), the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote that “Government, through such means as tax credits and publicly funded scholarships, should help provide resources for parents, especially those of modest means, to exercise this basic right without discrimination.”

A majority of states in our country have taken significant steps towards affording educational options to all families. Yet, many states, including Kentucky, still lag behind by not providing any public support for parents in the exercise of this right.  In these states, students are generally sent to a school based on their ZIP Code, which is in turn is often decided by their income. Of course, this is not the case for many students, whose parents’ wealth allows them to choose the public school district that they live within or affords them the opportunity to choose a nonpublic school.

Such disparities cannot persist without causing further damage to our society. Policymakers should heed Pope Francis’ words and create an education system which serves all families.

Andrew J. Vandiver is a lifelong Kentuckian and a convert to Catholicism. Andrew joined the Catholic Conference of Kentucky as Associate Director after working several years as a private practice attorney.

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Putting Families First – HB 336 and SB 4405 Feb

The 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly is entering its second month.  Though many issues are of importance to us as Catholics, today I urge you to take action on two bills that would help provide families with ID-10069170more options when it comes to their children’s education, regardless of their income or ZIP Code.

House Bill 336 and Senate Bill 44 would create a Scholarship Tax Credit Program in Kentucky.  A Scholarship Tax Credit program would increase financial assistance to families who wish to send their children to a nonpublic school, including Catholic schools.  The legislation ensures that all students have the opportunity to obtain the education they deserve at a school that best suits their educational needs.

PLEASE CALL the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 (1-866-840-6574 for Spanish) and urge your State Representative to co-sponsor House Bill 336 and Senator to co-sponsor Senate Bill 44 (the operator on the line will assist you in getting the message to the correct Representative and Senator).

House Bill 336 is sponsored by Rep. Tommy Thompson (D-14), Rep. Larry Clark (D-46), Rep. Fitz Steele (D-84), Rep. Dennis Keene (D-67), Rep. Russ Meyer (D-39), Rep Terry Mills (D-24), Rep. Dennis Horlander (D-40), Rep. Brad Montell (R-58), Rep. Sal Santoro (R-60), Rep. James Tipton (R-53), and Rep. Addia Wuchner (R-66). Senate Bill 44 is sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvardo (R-28), Sen. John Schickel (R-11), Sen. Max Wise (R-16), Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-36), and Sen. Joe Bowen (R-8).  If you live in their districts, be sure to thank them for their support.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2229) teaches the following:

  • Parents have the right to choose a school for their children which corresponds to their own personal convictions;
  • This right is fundamental; and
  • Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and ensuring concrete conditions for its exercise.

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (#72) our U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have written:

Government, through such means as tax credits…should help provide resources for parents, especially those of modest means, to exercise this basic right without discrimination.

 

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Bishops Respond to Passage of SB 402 Feb

Yesterday evening, the Kentucky State Senate accepted the House changes to SB 4, sending the bill to Governor Bevin for his signature. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky has, along with several other pro-life organizations, worked for many years mother-holding-sleeping-babyto pass this legislation. Kentucky has a very strong statute governing informed consent prior to abortion, but for the past several years, due to administrative decisions, it has been acceptable to satisfy the law by simply playing a recorded message over the phone. SB 4 will hopefully lead to actual conversations between women and health care professionals, where information is provided in a meaningful way and there is an opportunity for questions to be asked.

In response to the final passage of SB 4, the Kentucky bishops have released the following statement.

Bishops Statement on Passage of SB 4

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Catholics @ the Capitol 201605 Jan

With the 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly now underway, make plans today to attend Catholics @ Capitol Domethe Capitol 2016. This year, we will be having a one-day program on Tuesday, February 9, which will include presentations on the key elements of CCK’s legislative agenda and the opportunity to visit the Capitol and meet with your elected representatives. It promises to be a great day. Our hope is that the one-day program is more convenient for many than the two-day program we have put on in the past. For those who are traveling greater distances, however, we are more than happy to assist you in finding overnight accommodations. Please click below for the planned agenda and the registration form.

Catholics @ the Capitol 2016 Agenda

Catholics @ the Capitol 2016 Registration Form

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Associate Director Published in The Rank and File Catholic22 Oct

CoverAn article titled “School Choice – Tuition Assistance Tax Credit” by Associate Director, Andrew Vandiver, was recently published in The Rank and File CatholicThe Rank and File Catholic is a Kentucky based newsletter which seeks to connect the teachings of the Church with the struggles of labor.

A copy of the article can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

Latest news

Pope Francis and School Choice
By: Andrew J. Vandiver In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis addressed issues related to marriage and the family. The document has received a great deal of media coverage and it will shape the way that the Church discusses these issues moving forward.  One important section of the exhortation focused […]

Putting Families First – HB 336 and SB 44
The 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly is entering its second month.  Though many issues are of importance to us as Catholics, today I urge you to take action on two bills that would help provide families with more options when it comes to their children’s education, regardless of their income or ZIP Code. […]

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