Josephine looked over the fence and, shaking a letter in her hand, she called out to Betsy “We’ve got it, we’ve got it! Dominic has been offered a place at St Bede’s – next term”
But Betsy didn’t smile. “Good for Dominic, but my Bob won’t be going there. We’re not Catholics like you. So he’ll be at the Lawn Primary. It’s a bit of a journey and they have some rough kids there. Sorry Jo, but I think its unfair. After all we both pay our taxes, so why shouldn’t Bob have just the same chance as Dominic to go to the nearest school – he’s a bright boy.
“I do sympathise” said Josephine “but we have Catholic schools to provide a Catholic education. So it’s inevitable that Catholic children have the best chance of a place.”
“That’s just what I mean. After all, the school system is public and it’s paid for with public money. I don’t think they should have denominations. If Catholics want their own schools then they should pay for them directly, so should the Muslims or Jews. I don’t see why I should subsidise Catholic schools when I’m not a Catholic.”
“You know” said Josephine “you’re not having to spend any extra – in fact, a little bit less because we have to contribute to the capital costs of our schools. Sometimes I think people are jealous because Catholic schools seem to do rather better than most academically.”
“There’s another thing” Betsy added “it can’t be right for Catholic children to be shielded from mixing in ordinary society. After all, we have to live together so why start off by keeping Catholics separate from everyone else. In two ticks your Dominic is going to have Catholic friends – he’s going to have a shock when he gets out into society. Wouldn’t it be better if he got used to all sorts of people from the word go?”
And so the conversation carried on. We may hope that Jo and Betsy remained friends, and that Dominic and Bob remained friends too. But are you a supporter of Catholic schools or do you think that it would be better to have secular schools, and separate arrangements for studying Catholic doctrine? There are certainly points on both sides which Jo and Betsy haven’t made. So this is an opportunity to put this right.