Report Card: Md. School Choice Program Under Fire, Catholic Colleges Support ‘Women’s March’

The Cardinal Newman Society’s “Report Card” column provides weekly commentary from Matt Archbold on the latest in Catholic education. Matt blogs at and National Catholic Register, and he is the author of the book Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage.


Md. teachers union objects to school choice program helping Catholic school students

A teachers union is criticizing a state program that allows Maryland students to attend private schools — including Catholic schools — with the help of state grants because some of those students were already in private schools.

More than 1,900 in the program used the money to remain in private schools where they were already enrolled.

“Data now shows that 78 percent of students participating in the … program were already in private schools,” said Sean Johnson, legislative director of the Maryland State Education Association. “It merely subsidizes private schools with taxpayer dollars that could be going to public schools.”

How terrible to allow families to educate their children where they wish.

Scholarship support under the school choice program helped about 150 new students in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to the tune of $1.1 million.

“The families want school choice to attend archdiocesan schools,” said Jim Sellinger, chancellor of education for the archdiocese. “If the program were to expand, I think we would get more applications,” Sellinger said. “We just got our toe in the water.”

“Our Catholic school families and their schools spent nearly a decade advocating for a program like this, citing widespread need,” Garrett O’Day, the associate director of education, children and families for the Maryland Catholic Conference, told Catholic Standard. “That continuing need was apparent during the application process, as shown by the number of Catholic school applicants.”


WaPo ignored William Peter Blatty’s attempts to make Georgetown Catholic again

After William Peter Blatty passed away this month, the report in the Washington Post focused largely on his writing, especially his famous book The Exorcist, largely ignored Blatty’s recent appeal to the Vatican seeking actions to pull Georgetown University into line with the 1990 apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. This omission could be excused by other major media outlets, but the very public battle between Blatty and Georgetown happened right in the Post’s backyard.

Most media reports talked about how Blatty wanted everyone to know that his book had a happy ending and that good eventually won. Blatty also wanted a happy ending for Georgetown. The media didn’t think that was worth remembering.


Catholic colleges bus students to pro-abortion Women’s Marches

Two Catholic colleges in Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University, both sponsored buses to send students to pro-abortion Women’s Marches held the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump to protest the new president. UST Minnesota sent buses to the march in Washington, D.C., and St. Catherine students attended the local version of the march in Minnesota.

Organizers of the Women’s March haven’t exactly been shy about their pro-abortion stance, even removing the sponsorship of pro-life groups explicitly because they were pro-life. The march organizers’ official platform calls for uninhibited access to “safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people.”

UST Minnesota is no stranger to abortion activism, having previously promoted student internships at pro-abortion organizations, and recently sponsoring a book discussion of abortion activist Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, which was dedicated to the abortionist who killed her child. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Luann Dummer Center for Women at UST hosted Gloria Steinem, the feminist abortion advocate, to speak late last year.

Organizers of the trip at St. Catherine’s said, “Together, we will send a message to our leaders and the world that we stand for human dignity, equal rights, and freedom from discrimination.” Except for the human dignity of the unborn and their right to life, I guess.

Sadly, these Catholic colleges are not alone in sending students to the Women’s March. Our “Report Card” from earlier this month revealed that Fairfield University was also sending a bus to the D.C. march.


Catholic Sisters at the Women’s March

Sister Helen Kearny, who serves on the Board of Trustees for Saint Joseph’s College in New York, Sister Janet Kinney, Vice Chair of the Board of Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls college preparatory high school, and Sister Deborah Troillett, RSM, who had worked at the Mount St. Mary’s Academy for two decades in Little Rock, all attended the pro-abortion Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

They were interviewed in a video by America Media. As the group discusses why they were at the March, a number of pro-abortion signs are shown on screen.


Professor who exposed problems at Marquette still banned from classroom

Professor John McAdams is still not allowed back in the classroom at Marquette University after refusing to apologize for writing a November 2014 blog post criticizing a graduate student instructor who bullied a student for arguing against same-sex marriage. McAdams had previously stated that he’ll apologize, “When hell freezes over.”

A lawyer for Marquette, Ralph Weber, said, “Dr. McAdams thus far has made clear he does not accept the standard of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University faculties and therefore will not provide the necessary acknowledgements and commitments,” Weber wrote.

So, even pointing out intolerance is intolerant now?


Marquette slaps vandals of pro-life display (very lightly) on the wrist

After students at Marquette University defaced a university-sanctioned pro-life display, the Catholic university responded by doing very little. In fact, Professor John McAdams attempted numerous times to learn what punishment had been meted out but was continually stonewalled.

Recently, at a question and answer session following an event titled “Freedom Dreams Now: Whose Lives Matter? A challenge for academics,” a student publicly admitted participating in the vandalism.

“Actually, it was more than an admission,” wrote McAdams on his blog. “She outright bragged about her action, and felt it grossly unfair that a minor punishment had been imposed on her.”

It seems Marquette failed to notify police of the vandalism and after its own internal process imposed the very minor punishment of requiring them to write a three page paper on how they had acted irresponsibly in defacing the display.

Sadly, the student on the panel said she even refused that punishment and was merely placed on probation.

So in one action, Marquette displayed an unwillingness to defend life and free speech.


Fordham denies pro-Palestinian student group, allows pro-abortion groups

Fordham University, a Jesuit institution, has denied an application to form a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus because of the group’s polarizing views on Israel, including boycotting Israel.

Keith Eldredge, the dean of students at the Manhattan campus of Fordham, said that while the Jesuit University supports dialogue it cannot in this case because the goals of the group “clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the university.”

I can’t help but wonder why then does Fordham allow pro-abortion student groups (see here and here, for example) given that the issue of abortion is similarly polarizing and their goals “clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the university.”

Or do they?


Time to fix our Sunday School culture

The editors of America magazine are asking for a change in the way we educate children in the faith.

Few would argue that most Catholic parishes are doing it well. The editorial says that a public school with a dropout rate of 50 percent and two-thirds of area parents opting out of it would be considered failing. But too many parishes keep doubling down on failure, and the result is young Catholics not attending Mass and children being educated in public schools.

“Religious education is not accomplishing its purpose: to hand on the faith from generation to generation,” they say. “For the most part, religious education as presently conducted does not give these young people a compelling reason to believe.”

There is work ahead for all of us, including parents, teachers and church leaders, in order to make disciples of the next generation.


I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s Villanova’s Demisemiseptcentennial Ale

To celebrate its 175th anniversary, Villanova University asked two alumni who own the Cape May Brewing Company to create a new brew, the Demisemiseptcentennial Ale.

“We wanted to plan a year-long celebration that was fun and engaging for all Villanovans,” said Villanova Director of Presidential Initiatives and Events Christine Quisenberry. “Lots of activities are scheduled on campus, and we wanted to be sure to find ways to include our alumni throughout the region and around the world in this celebration, too.”

Hopefully, the brew isn’t as watered down as many university’s Catholic identity.

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