I enjoyed a very pleasant though sadly short visit to my former hometown. It was mid-April. The weather was mild, and Aeolus welcomed me with soft breezes rather than the usual rough winds of the Great Plains. The redbud trees were radiantly abloom in the spring sunshine. I had coffee with old friends and ran into former students from my days as a professor of theology at Creighton University, some of whom now have children in college, a sharp reminder that I'm no longer young.
My purpose for travel was to speak at the spring gala for St. Barnabas Classical Academy. A micro-institution, St. Barnabas is part of a larger movement that bids fair to have a significant influence in the years to come.
The last decade has seen a dramatic uptick in foundings of classical schools. Many such schools are explicitly Catholic, though some are more generally Christian. These green shoots are encouraging. For more than a generation, parents have rebelled against the mediocrity of our educational establishment. The ideological takeover of schools has accelerated this alienation. Wokery damages more than public education. In many dioceses, parochial schools have conformed to lightly theologized versions of progressive ideology that both politicize curricula and undermine the faith. Those concerned to promote cultural literacy, educational rigor, moral formation, and spiritual integrity have not stood idle. With an American genius for initiative and institution-building, they have established education co-ops that meet in private homes, started schools on shoestring budgets using a few classrooms lent by sympathetic parish priests, and raised money to rent buildings, hire teachers, and provide scholarships.
I have visited many institutions like St. Barnabas and spoken to many people involved in classical education. I'm impressed by the commitment of the teachers, many of them woefully underpaid. They understand that they are doing something of incalculable importance, not just for the students under their care, but for the Church and our society. I admire parents who take their children out of "regular" schools and enroll them in classical academies. New and often underfunded schools have limitations: few sports teams, if any, and meager resources. But these parents correctly assess the urgency of our present situation. Mainstream education is captive to perverse and destructive ideas.
The gala was held in the cavernous gymnasium of the St. Mary's Catholic Church School on Q Street. More than one hundred people sipped wine out of plastic cups, circulating to view the items available for the silent auction and gathering in clutches...