The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin  Catholic
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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
January 25, 2002 Issue

Diocese recommends Sept. 1 starting date

Catholic social teaching supports start in conjunction
with local public schools


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During the Great Jubilee-Holy Year 2000, the Bishops of the United States Conference called on Catholics to reflect upon the social principles and teachings of the Church. After this reflection, Catholics celebrated and affirmed them in their lives on Jubilee Day for Charity, Justice and Peace. Catholics were asked to sign a Jubilee Pledge for Charity, Justice, and Peace as an opportunity to recommit themselves to serving the poor and working for justice and peace in the new millennium. The Jubilee Pledge flows from the themes of Catholic social teaching.

• Life and Dignity of the Human Person
• Call To Family, Community, and Participation
• Rights and Responsibilities
• Options for the Poor and Vulnerable
• Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
• Solidarity
• Care for God's Creation

Fr. Bob Kroll, OFM, consultant for Educational Leadership/School Program Development for the Diocese of Green Bay, applied the principles of Catholic social teachings in the following statement released on behalf of the diocesan department of Total Catholic Education in response to Wisconsin legislation stating that the school year not begin before Sept. 1.

Beginning of school year

The members of our Wisconsin legislature voted to establish the starting date of the school year for learners in Kindergarten through Grade 12 to be no earlier than the first day of September. The governor affixed his signature to this legislation, which gave it the status of law. The legislation did not include a provision for non-public schools in the State of Wisconsin. Therefore, we must review this particular legislation as it applies to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Green Bay--elementary, middle and secondary.

Using the principles of charity, justice and peace, we, the members of the Diocesan Board and Department of Total Catholic Education, recommend administrators to voluntarily follow this starting date of Sept. 1. In making this recommendation, we are employing the following four principles and their application.

Call to family, community, and participation . . .

The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We realize that all children of a particular family do not attend Catholic schools. Some attend public and other non-public schools for various reasons. We believe that we ought to begin school on the same date as our counterparts in other non-Catholic schools so that the integrity and dignity of the family are upheld.

Rights and responsibilities . . .

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met . . .Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities . . .to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. The learners in non-public schools in the State of Wisconsin have received the right to free transportation for educational purposes to and from their homes. On their behalf, we have the responsibility to establish our calendars in concert with the public schools thus assisting public school administrators to practice wise stewardship of our tax dollars.

Solidarity . . .

We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We believe that we ought to provide a safe environment for learners. Thus we stand in solidarity with educators in all schools throughout our state, nation and world. We believe that we ought to begin school on the same date as our counter parts in other non-Catholic schools so that a safe environment will be created in our communities since the public will be made aware that school has begun.

Care for God's creation . . .

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God's creation. In the State of Wisconsin, our learners are provided transportation. In order to operate this transportation system, the administrators of our public school systems rely on a natural resource of God's creation. We believe that we ought to begin school on the same date as our counterparts in other non-Catholic schools so that the integrity of God's creation may be upheld and that we participate in good stewardship of God's created gifts.

We, the members of the Diocesan Board and Department of Total Catholic Education, hope that each school community reflect upon these principles and come to agree with our application of the principles to this particular issue, and accept our recommendation to begin school in conjunction with their local public school district.

Administrators' Day

Addendum: In light of this reflection, it is the intention of the diocesan department of Total Catholic Education to move the Administrators' Day, which is held in August, to a later date in that month. However, since it is understood that a few of the public schools in the geographical boundaries of the Diocese of Green Bay will be requesting a waiver of this new law for the 2002-03 school year because of legal requirements associated with teacher contracts, the date of Aug. 13, 2002 for Administrators' Day 2002 will remain. The date of Aug. 19, 2003, has been tentatively established for Administrators' Day 2003.


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