Tuesday, June 5, 2018
This piece has a tendentious headline (sigh) but it points to some important questions about the mission, character, funding, and regulation of Catholic schools. It's hard to see how it can be justified -- except on "fit of spite" grounds -- to say that Catholic schools should lose the right to prefer Catholics in admissions, but faith schools connected with other traditions will not. More generally, though, I would think that even the battered and lacking-credibility Church in Ireland is in a sufficiently strong bargaining position to say, "if you want to run our Catholic schools as secular state schools, then we will sell some of them to you." It is not unreasonable for the public, and the public authority, to think that there should be non-Catholic school options for children whose families prefer those options.
I am, as MOJ readers know, a strong supporter of school-choice programs; indeed, I believe they are morally required. But, this story about what's happening in Ireland is an important reminder about the temptation on the part of the state to leverage the funding it provides to secure practices and outcomes it prefers.