This St. Patrick’s Day, join us in calling for an end to bigoted, 19th-century anti-Irish and anti-Catholic legal barriers that block access to better schools for hundreds of thousands of underprivileged children. “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams: Ending America’s Bigoted Education Laws,” a Pioneer Institute documentary production, seeks to raise public awareness about these constitutional amendments that deprive the neediest children in 38 states of the opportunity to attend private or parochial schools. Here in Massachusetts, the Anti-Aid or “Know-Nothing” amendments prevent more than 100,000 urban families with children in chronically underperforming districts from receiving scholarship vouchers and education tax credits that would open access to additional educational alternatives.
Below, you can watch the film, which features a powerful message from Raymond Flynn, former Ambassador to the Vatican and three-term Boston Mayor. Read coverage of the film in The Boston Pilot, and view Pioneer videos and commentary related to previous events and research on this topic.
Video: Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams: Ending America’s Bigoted Education Laws
“If I were the Archbishop, I’d stand up in the pulpit of all these churches and I’d organize these parents. And I’d say, your children deserve a good education… We need to get the people who represent you in the Legislature, in City Hall, the State House, and Congress to start voting in the best interests of your children and your family.”
– Raymond Flynn, Former Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston
By Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass
Friday, March 17, 2017
St. Patrick’s Day is a time to remember perhaps the greatest piece of satire ever written in the English language. Irishman Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” brilliantly skewered the heartless attitudes of 18th-century British aristocrats with an essay about easing the economic troubles of Ireland’s poor by allowing the Irish to sell their children as food for the rich.
The genius of “A Modest Proposal” was Swift’s ability to vividly evoke the desperate condition of the masses while appearing to focus solely on the convenience of the wealthy. “A young healthy child well nursed,” he wrote, “is, at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled. …”
Few in the 21st century would be openly callous about the plight of the needy, but we still deny poor and minority Massachusetts citizens the educational opportunity that is the key to upward mobility. Read more…
Documentary explores amendments that limit school choiceA new documentary produced by the Boston-based think tank Pioneer Institute argues against state constitutional amendments that prohibit government aid to private educational institutions, and explores the history of such amendments. Read more…
|The Forgotten AmericansBy Raymond Flynn
The past week, I spoke at four outstanding Catholic High Schools in Massachusetts about the importance of Catholic education, with parents, clergy and students. It was so good to hear many positive stories about how well children are doing in our Catholic schools. But I also got the opportunity to listen to people talk about other issues of deep concern to them and their community like public safety, gangs and drugs. Read more…
By Tom Birmingham
Over the last century or more it would be difficult to understand Massachusetts without appreciating the central role that Catholic education has played in the commonwealth’s historical, political, economic, and cultural landscape. Of course, going back to the early-to-mid 19th century, Massachusetts’ Catholics dealt with infamous bigotry and intolerance, which find their worst expression in two so-called anti-aid amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution that block public dollars from going to private and religious school families.
Read more in The Pilot, The Salem News, The Eagle-Tribune, The Berkshire Eagle, the Fall River Herald News, The Taunton Daily Gazette, The Providence Journal, the New Bedford Standard-Times, and The Lowell Sun.
“Witnessing Hope: Cristo Rey Schools & Catholic Education“
Pioneer Institute held a forum on November 13, 2017, on Pope St. John Paul II’s commitment to world youth, and a successful model of K-12 Catholic education in America. Featured speakers included George Weigel, who wrote a bestselling two-volume biography of Pope St. John Paul II; former Ambassador to the Vatican and three-term Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn; Jeffrey Thielman, co-founder of the Cristo Rey Network of Catholic schools; and more.
“The Life You Save: Catholic Schooling & the Liberal Arts in the 21st Century”
Pioneer Institute held a forum on November 14, 2016, on the current status of K-12 Catholic education in America and the role of classical liberal arts learning for all. Featured speakers included Father George W. Rutler, pastor of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, and EWTN host; Paul Elie, a senior fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University; Anthony Esolen, Dante scholar and Providence College Professor of English Literature; Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University Learned Hand Professor of Law and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; and more.
“Move This Portrait: The Know-Nothings’ Governor and Barriers to School Choice”
In 2016, Pioneer Institute called on state leaders to move a portrait of Gov. Henry Gardner, a member of the nativist “Know-Nothing” party, from its position next to the main entrance of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. As Pioneer’s Jim Stergios argued at a forum on this topic, in a letter to the Governor and other state leaders, and in a Boston Globe op-ed:
“Removing Know-Nothing Governor Gardner’s portrait will not cleanse Massachusetts of its bigoted past, but moving it to a less prominent location is a start. More important would be increasing parents’ access to excellent school options, including private schools. The need is there, the costs are easily managed and there is public support for the change. The time is long overdue to expel the Know-Nothings’ anti-aid amendments from the Massachusetts Constitution.”
The State House forum also featured Raymond Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and Ambassador to the Vatican, Gerard Robinson, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former commissioner of education in Florida and Virginia’s secretary of education; Former New Hampshire State Representative Jason Bedrick, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute; and Grace Cotter Regan, head of school at St. Mary’s in Lynn.
- After the Fall: Catholic Education Beyond the Common Core
- Giving Kids Credit: Using Scholarship Tax Credits to Increase Educational Opportunity in Massachusetts
- Modeling Urban Scholarship Vouchers in Massachusetts
- Be Not Afraid: A History of Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts
- Four Models of Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts
- School Choice Public Opinion Survey
- The Know-Nothing Amendments: Barriers to School Choice in Massachusetts