Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Murrieta Questions

One of the key selling points on the new website of the Holy Martyrs OCSP group is a "home school program", about which little information is provided other than "We will begin by offering daily Masses, weekly Confession, Adoration & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as space for students to work." It adds, "We will grow into a full home school program in time."

The first question I have is one Fr ____ sometimes raises in homilies: "If you're a parent, don't you want the best for your children?" He asks this in the context of coming to mass with the family and involving them in parish activities, though certainly not excluding sending them to a parish school.

So one issue is the OCSP's overall track record with "home school programs". My regular correspondent notes,

There was formerly a plan in Irvine to have a homeschool support group, preliminary to or part of the K-12 Newman Academy they were looking to establish. That came to naught, as this may. STM,Toronto had a homeschool support group, for about a year, as did SJE, Calgary (they are trying again). STM, Scranton established one this school year, after abandoning its plans to renovate and reopen the school on its property. Homeschooling families tend to be the sort of traditionalists drawn to the Ordinariate.
I'm not an expert in homeschooling by any means. Certainly I've heard of children who were homeschooled and gained admission to the most elite colleges and universities, so clearly it works for many families. But I would have to ask whether it's the right solution for everyone, since it must certainly require dedication in the whole family and basic qualifications, both academic and personal, from at least one parent.

One question I would have is why parents with the mindset needed to homeschool children successfully would take the very minimal prospectus on the Holy Martyrs website, combined with Fr Bartus's already sketchy track record in starting something like this, as any serious ingredient in a specific plan for, say, a specific time like August-September 2018. If they already want the best for their children, why bother with this sort of pie-in-the-sky fantasy?

People who don't live in the western US don't necessarily understand relative distances there. Both Irvine and Murrieta are in "southern California", but they are along very different travel corridors, and they're over an hour's drive apart. It is very unlikely that potential homeschoolers in Irvine and Murrieta could merge resources and efforts to create a single successful program. As a rough indicator, although both groujps draw from wider areas, the population of Irvine is over 200,000, while the population or Murrieta is over 100,000. If a program couldn't succeed in Irvine, why would it do better in Murrieta?

Another question is why parents would consider homeschooling when there are Catholic schools nearby. The Murrieta-Temecula area is located in back country along the I-15 route from San Diego to Las Vegas, and it has only begun rapid growth in the last few decades. While Catholic school resources are limited as a result, they do exist. Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac School is a K-8 coeducational private school in Temecula-Murrieta. St James the Less is a K-8 school in Perris, less than 20 miles from Murrieta.

Unless there are very specific circumstances that would lead a family to homeschool, I would think that ordinary prudence should lead parents to undertake a careful evaluation of Catholic -- and possibly other private school -- options. When I was an Episcopalian, I knew many families who sent their children to Catholic schools. (Indeed, a local rabbi went to Catholic school as a child. Clearly many people who aren't even Catholic see merit in Catholic schools.)

In fact, when I was an Episcopalian, I sometimes heard remarks like, "He drives a new Mercedes, but he sends his kids to public school." I've got to question what mindset is operating in the very sketchy appeal we see to homeschoolers on the Holy Martyrs webpage. If I were a parent who had serious reasons to homeschool -- for instance, a child with particular talents that I felt, after serious reflection, only I could properly foster -- I can't imagine bothering to waste my time asking Fr Bartus for what he really had in mind with the blue-sky pitch on the Holy Martyrs website.