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CATHOLIC SCHOOLS SHOULD JOIN FIGHT FOR VOUCHERS

Letters to The News regarding the ongoing controversy over parochial school teacher salaries in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese suggest that it is time to eliminate this scandal.

As a graduate of parochial schools, I will always cherish my education by the Sisters of St. Francis. Therein lies the crux of the matter. The majority of the teachers then were nuns living under a voluntary vow of poverty. Food, clothing and shelter were provided by the parish and/or diocese.

After the 1960s, vocations to religious life plummeted. Lay teachers came to predominate in the schools, but poverty, now involuntary, continued. Thus we have qualified teachers earning salaries that are far below what their peers in the state-supported public schools are earning.

I say state-supported public schools because I regard parochial schools as non-state-supported public schools. It strains the meaning of the term "private" to designate as such schools that once educated about one-third of all children in Buffalo and that were open to non-Catholics.

For example, according to a Nov. 4 News article, in the Catholic Central School for the East Side, 85 percent of the students are non-Catholic. Catholics simply lacked the will or the political clout to get a fair share of their own tax dollars for their schools.

The twisted interpretation of the non-establishment clause in our Constitution has led to a massive violation of justice inflicted by the state onto the parents who are double-taxed when they choose religious schools for their children. Now that lay teachers have come to predominate in religious schools, theinequity is partially shifted by the administrators of the school system from the parents onto the teachers.

Perhaps the Catholic Church should direct those lawyers it hires to fight off teachers' just wage demands to join in the fight for a voucher system on a national scale, as is now operating in Wisconsin.

Failing in that, it may have to do what others must do when they cannot afford to pay the fair price for something. They forego the purchase.

If taxpayers have to pick up the tab for the education of all youngsters in discontinued parochial schools, where education was subsidized by parents and underpaid teachers, they may come to realize what a precious educational resource they have lost.

Rupert J. Ederer
Clarence