Education for the EliteUpdated: Oct 31, 2016
A look into sectarian academic institutions’ selective student admission policy
Hashtag: #TiwaLaSalle (“Trust in La Salle!” University)
The Nature of Sectarian Schools
About four years ago, several schoolchildren with lesbian parents were rejected by a Catholic school in Boston, Massachusetts. A Lutheran High School in California, on the other hand, expelled two students simply because they were members of the third sex. Sectarian schools are also famous for rejecting students with different religious belief, of different skin color or with a physical or mental disability, but gets away with it. How is that possible?
Sectarian schools are private institutions, as they do not receive funding from federal government or directly administered by the state. For this reason, sectarian schools are self-governing entities with freedom to discriminate or reject a particular type admit a certain type of student. Therefore, those shouting #TiwaLaSalle are students who passed the discriminating standard of the university and deserving of education for the elite.
Owners of sectarian schools are either Catholic or Protestant religious organizations aiming to propagate and advance their respective religious beliefs. A sectarian school, therefore, is only open to students with similar faith. Moreover, since government or people’s taxes do not fund private organizations, students in sectarian schools are normally sons and daughters of parents who can pay expensive tuition fees and support expenses associated with exclusive education.
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Discrimination in Schools of the Holy
Most sectarian schools are named after a patron saint or religious figures (ex. Saint Anthony’s College, La Salle University, Saint Francis Xavier University) but their practices seem far from being divine. They continue to exist and operate under the law regardless of the fact that denying student’s admission on religious grounds result in racial exclusion and violation of children’s rights.
Under the law, sectarian schools as private educational institutions can have different rules. For instance, a Roman Catholic nun and leader of a Catholic school in New Orleans openly admit that students and faculty have limited rights in a Catholic school. In fact, they are free to ignore freedom of speech and due process rights, hire and fire staff on religious grounds, employment regulations, and reject admission of anyone mainly because they are ministries funded by private donations.
These practices according to school official are not religiously bias but simply a matter of choosing those who are members of the church. Moreover, since the school is part of the ministry, they need to model and protect Catholic values. This may be true as most textbooks according to the study of Christian schools are politically and religiously bias and often identical to materials produced by partisan organizations promoting conservative Christian ideas.
Discriminatory practices of sectarian schools such as those promoting Catholic values, in particular, seem contradictory to Christian teaching. For instance, discrimination is never a Christian value. In fact, Jesus, through his ministry, emphasized the need to love one another, as God’s love for all is unconditional. Evidently, these include those we deemed unworthy or people with different belief, gender, and race. Sectarian schools should realize that independence from government funding and control does not necessarily mean freedom to discriminate and promote false religious values such as providing exclusive education for the elite.