“Father, I want to talk to you about your kids”. Those words, which would give most parents an uneasy feeling, came to me from the bus driver at the end of a golf outing. Preparing for the worst, I said, “Sure!” “I drive a school bus regularly”, he said, “and most kids do not behave the way these kids do. They treat each other with respect and decency. They are kind and polite to me, and to each other. Whatever your school is doing to teach them correct behavior, keep doing it!”
As I write these words, on my desk sits the Wall Street Journal for October 15, 2009, where a headline on page A3 reads, “U.S. Math scores Hit a Wall:. The article begins, “Fewer than four of 10 fourth-and eight-graders are proficient in mathematics, according to a highly regarded federal test given in early 2009, adding to recent evidence that the U.S. drive to become more economically competitive by overhauling public education may be falling short”.
I contrast this dismal report with the report given by the principal at last month’s meeting of the parish council, which shows our fourth and eight graders math proficiency at well above 90%. We are proud of our students’ proficiency in math, and indeed, in all academic subjects.
But what we are most proud of is our pupils’ proficiency in character. We are most proud that the school is forming not just smart kids, but good kids. One day these children will come to the end of their time on earth and will appear before God to render an accounting for their lives. The basis for that judgment, according to Matthew 25, is not their academic proficiency, but their moral behavior. They will be evaluated not on their SAT scores or the number of academic degrees they have attained, but the content of their character. Our school’s primary goal is to help them assimilate and live by the Gospel message of Christ.
It is indeed heartening to see that bus drivers and others notice this proficiency in character. The bus driver, by the way, came to our Church the next Sunday for Mass. That week, he and his family became members of our parish.
Rev. Msgr. Thomas F. Maloney