Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Defective Arguments Against The Existence of Separate Catholic Schools In Scotland

On 18 March 2011, Joan Burnie, a writer of pieces I usually find quite silly, wrote in her column for the 'Daily Record' that,

"Andrew Neil has been getting pelters from some people because the broadcaster and former Paisley Grammar pupil dared to suggest that the Scottish system of both Catholic and non-denominational schools was a form of apartheid."

So he should have done, because as analogies go it is every bit as ridiculous and overblown as Peter Kearney's suggestion that  the situation of Catholics in Scotland is similar to that of the civil rights movement in the United States (and that, incidentally, would be the same Andrew Neil whose memoirs were described by John Pilger, in his book 'Hidden Agendas', as, if memory serves, 'the most prolonged boast in the history of British journalism'). 

As arguments go, that one's a dud. More subtle was one from another Scottish broadcaster. 

On 12 December 2002, the 'Daily Telegraph' reported that

"Kirsty Wark, the broadcaster, also raised the issue last weekend when she urged head teachers to question the separate funding of Scotland's 412 Catholic state schools.

She spoke of her unease with the system at an awards ceremony in Glasgow, when she revealed that her best friend had been sent to a different school because of their religious backgrounds."

Ah, how cruel! The children can't go to school together! 

One small point - Scotland's system of separate Catholic education might be defective to the point of requiring to be abolished, but while it exists Catholic parents cannot and should not be criticised for sending their children to Catholic schools; and whether or not she actually intended what she said to have had that effect, that type of criticism is really what Wark's observations amounted to.

For as long as the schools exists, parents will elect to send their children to them. By doing so they are making a free and legal choice regarding the type of education they consider to be best for their children - the type of choice with which Kirsty Wark would probably have brooked no interference as far as her own childrens' education was concerned.

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