Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

From the New York Times: French Muslim kids find haven in Catholic Schools

Posted by chinesecanuck on October 1, 2008

I find this article interesting and I agree with them, somewhat.  Being an alumna of a historically religious school AND a public school, I’ve found that the students were less likely to question or tease students who were “different” and that people were more open to understanding.   The article also says that students in the Catholic schools are better-behaved.  Perhaps it’s because religion is “there” even if students don’t necessarily take the courses (the kids do not have to go to services or take.  The spirituality is still there.

The French Catholic schools do not need to follow the same rules as public schools, which prohibit any religious symbols.  This means that girls are free to wear their headscarf.   Some schools have allowed students to use the chapel for prayers during Ramadan.  At the same time, parents don’t need to worry about an inferior education, as these schools teach the national curriculum.  In addition, Catholic schools have, historically, had a reputation around the world of having high academic standards and more open-minded about sciences (if Catholics in the US had a louder voice than evangelical Christians, no way would evolution be challenged.  In fact, it wouldn’t even be in the picture).  Immigrants generally LIKE high academic standards.  Personally, I think these Catholic schools provide some sort of middle ground for integration.  Depending on how “old country” a culture is, it could take several generations before people are integrated, or at least understand the local customs (even if they don’t believe in it).

It’s also interesting to note that the principal of a newly-founded Muslim school sends his kids to a Catholic school rather than his own!


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