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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
March 11, 1994     The Message
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March 11, 1994

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Perspective Lenten question: What was it like? It bothers me. Every week or so I drive past this house where construction workers are busy at their tasks. As near as I can tell, bricklayers, car- penters, cement masons, landscape workers and who knows who else have brought about major changes at this house What bothers me is that I can't remember what the house used to look like, before all of the work began. Even though I see a lot of things happening in, on and around the house, I can't tell what kind of progress has been made. I think that I am an observant person. But in some cases -- even simple ones such as this -- I am not as watchful as I think I would like to have. Or ought to have been. This construction job -- or better, re-construc- By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR tion job -- has been going on at least since last fall. I only see the work occasionally, and only very quickly. As I drive past, I have only a few seconds to take in all that I can see" and that leaves me un- satisfied. It would be impolite to stop, block traffic, and stare -- but some days, I am tempted to do just that. I know that an addition has been built. I know that the earth around the house has been re- arranged. I know that a new chim- ney has been constructed. I know that a deck has been added. I just wish I could remember what it looked like before. It's a good question to ask in Lent. The question is, "What was it like before?" Each of us can supply our own personal area of concern, as we ask the question. We hear about the need to sion or a change of heart. We hear cleansing and renewal. It is hard ta changing, if you don't know what from. It is hard to think about renewal, know what it is which will made new. What was it like before? : : In some religious traditions, be, "What was it like before your personal savior?" In others, perhaps, was it like before you joined the church Or, "What was it like before you beheved? : Lent provides the time to ask such about our own lives. It is time to take a bricks and mortar and changes in our that have built up over the years. What added? what has been removed? What changed? Maybe you might even ask about the of your faith. Is it built on rock? Lent is the time to ask such ( ----- Washington Letter School reform: A not so new take-home assignment By CAROL ZIIM[ME Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Al- though education reformers may have a lot of lofty ideas for improving our nation's schools, the latest concept -- to involve parents in the process -- is anything but new. This February, in his first address on the state of Ameri- can education, U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley un- veiled his =family involvement campaign." The plan aims to include parents in their chil- dren's education, because, as Riley has often stated, they are the "first and most important teachers." Sound familiar? "Parents must be the ac: knowledged as the first and foremost edticators of their children," said Pope John Paul II more than 10 years ago in his apostolic exhortation on the family. " The pope didn't mince words about this role either, going on to call it "so decisive that scarcely anything can compen- sate for (parents') failure in it." In mid-February, When Riley  addressed a group of more than 700 at Washington's Je- suit,run Georgetown Univer- sity, he said that education re- form is "best when it is school and community-based, volun- The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except list week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville' Pubsher.....: ........ Badop Gerald K Geltelflrer Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Manage ......................... Ptdl Boger CroJlaban ................................... Amy Housman Adverr;. .................................... Paul Nowland b2a var ........................... Mary Ann Hughes AcMmss all communkations to P.O. Box 416.9, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville. IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800, Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Offc, e of Pub.ation Copyflght 1994 Catlx Press of Evansvle tary, inclusive and bottom up ... when we involve parents, teachers and the entire com- munity in putting children first." Again, his words rang a fa- miliar bell, this time echoing the U.S. bishops' 1991 state- ment, "Putting Children and Families First: A Challenge for Our Church, Nation and World." One purpose of the statement; thebishops said, was to "share the facts of a so- ciety failing its children. . The letter particularly noted that the nation has the "highest di- vorce rate, the highest child poverty rate and the highest abortion rate in the Western world." it," he said. Education experts who spoke with CNS stood firmly behind the theory that parents can make a big difference in their children's education. They also recognized that "needs improvement" would probably be the grade parents would get. Even parents have admitted their lack of participation. In a Newsweek poll, 40 percent of parents across the country said they .were not devoting enough time to their children's educa- tion. Katherine Keough, associate dean of education at Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincin- nati, called parental involve- Riley has likewise lamented ment in education "imper a- society's failure to help its chil- rive. " dren. e seem as a nation to =If a parent does not value be drifting toward a new con- their child's education and cept of childhood that says a learning, why should the child child can be brought into this - ,alue it?-:sheaid. : ...... world and allowed to fend for himself or herself," he said. He emphasized a "moral ur- gency" for society to come to- gether and "reconnect" with its children, adding that such a job could not simply be left to teachers and principals who "already have been directly confronting violence, the breakdown of the family, eth- nic and racial tension, ... teen- age pregnancy, the abuse of drugs, alcohol and the crisis of AIDS.  Similarly, Dominican Sister Betty Flaherty, who taught for 40 years; from elementary edu- cation to graduate school, said, "Nothing will happen to stu- dents of value unless it is sup- ported at home." Sister Flaherty, who cur- rently directs religious forma- tion at St. Blase Parish in Sterling Heights, Mich., is such a firm believer in parental involvement that she and other parish organizers have taken the idea a step fur- So now that a top govern - ther. Their parish's religious ment official is preaching the  formation program, which has message that long has been is- sued from the pulpits, does that necessarily mean things are going to change? Not with- out some work and creativity, experts say. "Just saying we need more parental involvement isn't enough," said Clark Power, a developmental psychologist who teaches at the University of Notre Dame. He told Catholic News Ser- vice that although he was glad Riley was endorsing the con- cept of parents helping their children, he was also a little pessimistic. "This isn't a new idea; it's been around for 40 years or more. We've known it, but we haven't been terribly been honored by the National Catholic Educational Associa- tion, is specifically designed for both parents and children. According to Sister Flaherty, more parents today want to be involved in their children's ed- ucation because they don't want the trend of a "lost gener- ation" to continue. As she sees it, children pick up on their parents' interest, which could range from simply asking, %Vhat did you learn today?" to attending meetings and volun- teering at school activities. Ms. Keough said such in- volvement doesn't mean par- ents have to go back in time to an era when one parent stayed at home. "I'm not suggesting creative or willing to commit to . Mp_m sy home and b.ake.copk- ies for the PTA, but parents should stay in communication with the school," she said. She and Power agreed that parents could participate in their children's education sim- ply by overseeing homework and by plugging into resources some schools have made avail- able, such as parent hot lines and chances to talk to teachers during work hours. Riley plans to come out with his own suggestions for par- ents this spring by publishing "Riley's Rules," including tips such as scheduling homework time, re using television ing in touch and talking with I dren. Although tially assignment for] sists they alone to nesses churches ! nity extend than they do lies nurture their full k Bishop's sc The following activities and events schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger"