Published On: Tue, Mar 27th, 2018

BLOG / Cardinal Timothy Dolan: Right Person for Fox News Interview but Wrong

Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a man I would love to respect more.  His talk on television was related to Democrats abandoning the Catholic Church. 
Pope Francis I talks about building bridges between people.
 Cardinal Timothy Dolan goes his own way on these important issues, citing symbolism, caricatures, and superficialities.   Where is the bridge (beef)?  He has failed the Genesis (admission into school) and Exodus (expulsion out of school) of schools.  He was a poster boy for Fox News.
The success of parochial schools and charter schools is real, but also fake news.  I have called for a moratorium on charter schools which has been taken up by one of the great civil rights organizations of our time.  As long as government heads like Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York are going to grant charters,  then the rules should be changed immediately to reflect true competition.
In our nation’s capital, we witnessed students crying out for gun control and improved conditions in schools.  They know better than anyone else the great need for more counseling for students after what has taken place.  A Spanish speaking female used her language which Donald Trump objected to during the 2016 Presidential Campaign when another Floridian spoke Spanish (Jeb Bush).  I dare Trump to criticize that youth now for speaking Spanish.  His campaign aroused great hate, I repeat again.  And he has built a wall between himself and the neighborhood schools.  Even his secretary of education shows her obsession with the charter schools.  And she is the chair of his school violence commission.
Now we turn to Cardinal Timothy  Dolan and his views.  He is a man I would love to respect more.  His talk on television was related to Democrats abandoning the Catholic Church. 
I have written to Cardinal Dolan about Colin Kaepernick asking the cardinal to build a bridge between Colin Kaepernick and the police, hoping to defuse violence in communities and to improve police and community relations.  Have you seen his effort in this area?  On Fox News in 2016, he told the world he believes in symbols like the flag and he preferred to watch a baseball game instead of the presidential debate.  I sent an article out asking for Cardinal Dolan to resign, thinking of my mentor who wrote J’Accuse.  How are people going to be protected by others if the right information does not surface?
Then in an interview again with Fox News and an article this week in the Wall Street Journal, the issue of school competition was brought up by Cardinal Dolan and neither Fox News nor Cardinal Dolan could handle it right.  The commentator was excellent for saying that there should have been a major difference in school performance due to competition, a question that the cardinal flunked on because his knowledge is superficial.  There is some improvement in our schools and that may or may not be due to competition, but the gains are not enough.
My grandmother and I were cited in a bill in the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico several years ago in the effort of Representative Rivera Ramirez to change the Education Act of 1949 in Puerto Rico.  My grandmother was an immigrant from Przemysl, which is now in Poland.  She never attended school in the United States after arriving here at a very young age, but she told me in the 1950s that her teachers were nuns.  I had a positive view of Catholic schools because of that, but much of my thinking has changed in a progressive way.  
Years ago I went into Newark where I met with staff of Mayor Cory Booker.  Within weeks I realized that the most problematic students should have seats in the new charter schools of Newark.  Children of the incarcerated and others should have a different place to learn, creating a new generation.  We know that many or most parents send their children to charter and Catholic schools to escape, which previously was White flight and now is Black flight from schools.  The Catholic schools should be dealing with the same conditions of the public-school system including more cafeteria fights, fights after school, weapons brought to school, arguments that lead to murder by guns and slashing machetes, and more. The Catholic schools have received a free pass to more safety and more school success.  If the Catholic schools want the money to follow the student, they should do the entire job that the neighborhood schools do.  But the truth is we must eradicate those major problems.  Nikolas Cruz, who is now awaiting trial for the murder of 17 people in Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, could easily have committed those murders while attending Catholic school.
Today I would tell Cardinal Dolan to take all the discipline problems of New York City and work with those students.  There are two key words in school life besides promotion and graduation and they are admission (genesis) and expulsion (exodus).  Charter schools admit students based on parent choice as the cardinal was alluding to, but what I would demand of the charter and catholic schools are open admission and nobody should be expelled.  Catholic schools could discharge a problematic student from one Catholic school to another.  That is how public-school personnel are required to work. 
Catholic schools have always created problems for public schools.  Back in the day when Catholic school students were doing better than public school students, people did not have a clue about why except for answers like school discipline and the teachers knocked the knowledge into your head through corporal punishment.  I can easily thank those schools for doing a good job, but only in recent years have I figured out why there was such a great difference in both types of schools and I have shared that knowledge with important people who act like the words do not even exist.
Our schools are getting more dangerous because of charter schools and parochial schools.  Even the police and correction officers that see the youth on the streets and in the jails could testify to that.  At the same time, it would be hard for police to admit that things were getting better while police are being shot and correction officers are being beaten.  I always try to be fair.  My point is if a school has 150 students and 25 dangerous students and the charter school and/or the parochial school syphons off 25 students, you will see that the percentage of dangerous students increases 25 of 125).  That was not discussed by Fox News with Cardinal Dolan.  That is mathematical evidence that even police and correction officers have to accept. 
The Wall Street Journal wrote about Archbishop John Hughes and Cardinal Timothy  Dolan mentioned the former who helped the Irish in that great migration that we have learned about in history books.  The reading of Irish history must include how people felt about the Irish and how they were treated, forcing that migration out of tremendous desperation which plagues our communities today.   The Irish Times wrote that if the Negro (and I am purposely using that word instead of the pejorative) had not been invented, the Irish would have been the Negro.”  From my point of view, the Irish themselves failed to properly learn enough from their history. 
They became police who oppressed people in other communities, Italian and Jewish, for example, decades ago.  In 1902 there was the funeral of Rabbi Jacob Joseph which presented a problem for factory workers on Grand Street (it was later determined that most of those factory workers were not Irish, but German), but 200 police clubbed the Jews and that was the standard practice in a riot.  My point is that you would think that Irish police who hailed from Irish immigrants would have stepped back and started to change police procedures.  Going from oppressed to oppressor was not the right thing to do.
Then there is the “eternal” problem that I often find when people talk about the comparison between public schools which are neighborhood schools and charter and/or parochial schools which are usually not neighborhood schools at all.  Many or probably most of those other schools attract students from different neighborhoods. 
In the 1960s Bishop Molloy High School had around a hundred percent graduation and almost everyone went to college and that was a time when graduation rates were low among public school students.  I know that the graduation rate from high school in New York City around 1970 was well behind the rate in our nation (which was 72 percent).  Just do the auditing and find out for sure.  Don’ take my word for it.
There are complaints today that Orthodox Jewish students in larger numbers do not know the basics.  This fact came to me a few years ago from a staff member of the City Council who spoke to me on the phone.  There was never a follow up on it.  A member of my own family asked me to help one such student and I provided the youth with the practice test for the G.E.D.  That youth, I was told later, decided to go in another direction.  Hopefully he earned a diploma.  Then there were reports about this problem on the news.  The problem has probably existed for years, but some people finally decided to do something about it. 
It is not just people like Cardinal Dolan that are the problem.  I have mentioned Colin Kaepernick.  There are the people around Colin Kaepernick that I have contacted.  We know that organizations that work with Kaepernick do not want to collaborate or allow an outsider to obtain access to Kaepernick.  Then there is Kaepernick himself.  Does he know about my efforts and why he hasn’t reached out to me for over a year?  This is a true aspect of the nature of people that must end if we are going to make great progress.  What’s going on with leaders in our neighborhoods?
The Catholic and charter schools are making our nation’s neighborhood schools more dangerous.  As those schools syphon off more and more students and only the most dangerous and/or the most at-risk students are left, who will teach them?  The neighborhood schools or public schools that the students will have to travel to?  I would hold all schools accountable right now.
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