Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unpublished LTEs

A story about low enrollment in our local Catholic schools recently  appeared in the Democrat & Chronicle and I commented on it here.

I also sent off a Letter to the Editor on the subject.  Since there has been no phone call from the D&C in the 2+ weeks that have elapsed since I hit the Send button, I have to conclude that they have chosen not to publish it.

And so I will self-publish it here ...

To the Editor,

While local Catholic officials may be finding some consolation in the fact that Catholic school enrollment is down across New York State, I wonder if they have looked beyond our borders.

For instance, out in Kansas the Diocese of Wichita has about 120,000 Catholics (roughly one-third as many as the Diocese of Rochester) and it operates 39 Catholic elementary and secondary schools. During this past academic year enrollment reached a 40-year high at just under 11,000 students.

Furthermore, no Wichita Catholic student pays a single cent in tuition to attend one of those schools.

A recent study concluded, "Wichita might be home to one of the strongest Catholic school systems in the nation, with impressive test scores, rising enrollments, supportive parishes, an authentic Catholic identity and a unique funding model.”

If Wichita can do this, why can't Rochester?

I believe our diocesan leaders owe us an answer to that question.

Is the D&C ignoring you?

My experience with this and other unpublished letters has given me an idea.

Some comments on this and other local blogs as well as casual conversations with friends reveal a fairly widespread impression that the Democrat & Chronicle has adopted a favorable editorial stance towards DOR and its policies and actions.  Furthermore, many believe that the D&C deliberately chooses to ignore almost anything critical of the bishop, the diocese and the MCCS System.

Well, I cannot force the D&C to print your letters but I can publish them here.

If you submit an LTE to the D&C critical of any aspect of DOR and it goes unpublished, send me a copy along with the date you sent it to the D&C and I will (probably) run it here.  (See my profile for contact info.)

No anonymous rants, please!  In fact, I'm going to insist on the same ground rules that the D&C uses:  I'll need your name and phone number; also, your LTE cannot exceed 175 words.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Democrat and Chronicle has the printing contract for Bishop Clark's Catholic Courier Newspaper. This contract gives the bishop clout over what is published about the diocese and himself.

Many years ago, Democrat and Chronicle employees Mark Hare and Doug Mandelaro were also on Bishop Clark's diocesan "Communication Committee". These reporters were really putting the spin on slanting the articles about the church and school closings in favor of the diocese.

Standing in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Doug Mandelaro told me that the diocese made him such a good financial offer for employment, he couldn't turn them down.

On another matter, Bishop Clark always controlled the letters to the editor in the Catholic Courier, with an iron fist. He has a tough time accepting any type of criticism. This is one of the reasons why the people who surround him have been seeking other employment or retiring early, during the past 5 years.

yankeegirl27 said...

Mike, as always, thank you for your commitment to catholic education here. As a parent of 2 children in DOR grammar schools and a member of the SAC committee of our closed school deeply affected by the closings etc, so many of us have appreciated your strong voice opposing the closings and promoting catholic education locally. We parents speak frequently, supporting each other, volunteering at schools that are left and praying together at mass, and I can truthfully say the majority of us feel our catholic school families are treated as nothing more than a financial burden to the diocese that they wish they could get rid of altogether. In fact recently when the mega millions lottery was over 100 million, a bunch of us moms said if we won our priority would be to open our own independent traditional catholic school! :)

Regarding the D & C, we all knew we would not get fair coverage when the school closings were announced, and as predicted by us all Mark Hare's column was what we expected. We actually emailed back and forth at that time, and emotionally disageed. He was kind, but supported and made excuses for the Bishops decision to decimate the schools without thought or effort to keep them open. Anonymous's note that the printing contract for the Catholic Courier is with the D & C is not surprising. Many of us wrote letters at the time of the closings, very few were printed.

Mike said...

yankeegirl27,

I think that MCCS's treatment of Joe Holleran only serves to support your claim that they really care nothing about parents' opinions.

Regarding Mark Hare, a number of years ago I had a couple of email go-rounds with him on subjects that had nothing to do with DOR. My take-away from those experiences was that he would never give my points the weight they deserved, no matter how well they were documented. It seemed that once Mr. Hare had an opinion he wasn't about to be bothered by any facts to the contrary.

BTW, I think Mega Millions peaked at about $330 million. If I had won and had taken the payout as a lump sum, I would have been left with somewhere between $110 and $120 million after taxes. And so when I bought my ticket I wasn't thinking about building a single school, but an entire school system.

As Eliza Doolittle said, "Ah, wouldn't it be lov-er-ly!"

Rich Leonardi said...

I submitted a short guest column on the DOR's handling of the sale of Ss. Peter & Paul a couple of years ago. It was critical but restrained. After being told over the phone that it would be given thoughtful consideration, I received a form rejection letter that gave no indication the editor even read it.