.- Parents have the right to choose where their children attend school, and a law that ensures “parents’ free choice of education is a true act of justice,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez.
The archbishop of San Antonio made this statement as the Texas Legislature is in the midst of discussing the possibility of a pilot program that would allow for parental choice in education.
The public debate, which has been a national debate for some time, “points out the inherent inequality that exists when lack of money creates the obstacle to parental choice,” said the archbishop.
“The system of parents’ free choice would permit all families, regardless of financial status, to finally take control of where they can educate their children without staying at the mercy of the inconsistent quality of the public schools where they are presently obliged to send them,” he said.
Some states and pro-family organizations have proposed a system of education vouchers that would allow low-income families the possibility of sending their children to schools, which they otherwise could not afford.
The archbishop insisted that the Catholic Church is not opposed to public education, but it does believe that “parental choice provides society with a more just model in which families can choose.”
Many parents would like to have a different option when the public schools their children attend do not operate properly, or when what is taught does not coincide with the values that they want for their children, said the archbishop. But, due to the current legal system, there is nothing parents can do about it, he pointed out.
“Catholic social teachings and the wider Judeo-Christian tradition that are found in the origins of our nation have recognized always that the education of children belongs to the parents,” the archbishop stated.
“It makes sense that they have several options provided by the state, the Church or private organizations [to choose from].”
Noting the importance of Catholic education for Catholic parents and children, and the current system that hinders parental choice, the archbishop said the “local Church continually looks for ways to help parents financially, from its own resources, in choosing the kind of education they can offer their children.
“For exactly the same reason, the church, in general, supports laws that give parents the freedom they deserve in choosing where to direct funds from their taxes when deciding the education their children will receive,” he stated.
About 15,000 students are enrolled in private Catholic schools or schools of the archdiocese.