Monday, April 25, 2011

From An Educator, Foolishness

The right of freedom of expression in our country extends to all, including members of the clergy and other religious figures. But any individual serving a particular denomination injecting himself or herself into the political arena is immune from neither praise nor criticism, or even ridicule. If this is a nation valuing equal protection under the law, a nation of laws and not of men, it also is a nation in which statements deserve to be considered on their own merits.

On Tuesday, Governor Chris Christie, taking advantage of the rare moments he spends in New Jersey, visited a St. Augustine of Canterbury school in the middle-class suburb of South Brunswick, NJ. A community newspaper reported

The visit, which was closed to the media, saw the entire school community in grades K-8 warmly greet the Governor with welcome signs, applause and cheers of joy, said principal Sister Mary Louise Shulas.

"I was very excited because I never had the experience of having a governor come and visit my own school," Shulas said. "It was an honor and a privilege for him to come in and be our guest. He addressed the children beautifully and answered questions on a level that the students were able to understand and appreciate. He spoke about the value of receiving an excellent Catholic education and the importance of having respect for one another by reaching out and performing services that help other people."

Father Bob opened the Governor's visit with a welcome and prayer. Christie then spoke to the children about valuing their Catholic education and learning attitudes of respect and kindness, Shulas said. Before the meeting began, the children were asked what should be on their agenda for the day.

"I don't know," Samantha said. "We don't need any agenda, we have the Governor visiting us."

Shulas called the visit a wonderful memory in the history of the school and the lives of the students.

"The children came away from this with the knowledge that the Governor does care about students and their education in New Jersey," Shulas said. "That was his clear message to them. He confirmed the importance of the value of education, and in our case, a Catholic education. He made them feel as though they're a vital part of New jersey by taking the time out of his schedule to visit them at their own school on their invitation. Each child felt really important and valued."

No doubt the Governor, ever ready to demean the public school system, did "confirm the importance of the value of" "a Catholic education." And traveling to a sectarian school on the public's dime while commending that religion ("a Catholic education") does not conflict with the wall of separation understood to be guaranteed by the First Amendment.

But really..... the Governor does care about students and their education? This is the same governor who in November told high school students- students! at the Boys and Girls Club in the state capital, Trenton

These teachers have all summer off. Can’t they have their convention during the summer? They got to get two days off from school because, you know, they don’t get enough time off now, right? They get two weeks off at Christmas, they get all the different holidays, then they get all the summer off and now they need two more days.

Why do you think that is? Do you think If they cared about learning where would they be today?

No better way to strike a blow for education than to tell students that their teachers ae lazy and don't care about them. But then they were public school students.

A few months earlier, Governor Christie had remarked

Scaring students in the classroom, scaring parents with the notes home in the bookbags, and the mandatory 'Project Democracy Homework' asking your parents about what they're going to do in the school board election, and reporting back to your teachers union representatives, using the students like drug mules to carry information back to the classroom, is reprehensible.

Surely, there is no better way to encourage students than to liken their teachers to drug kingpins and the students themselves to drug pushers.

So, Sister Shulas, continue your foray into political commentary. You're an American citizen and your opinion is valuable, all the more so because of your position as a principal. But if you escape criticism, be assured that it's only because of the political correctness conservatives excoriate when politically convenient; that if you were not a religious figure, your remark would be viewed objectively, on its own merits. And that, in this country, is the way it should be with everyone.

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