Ontario education policy allows schools to suspend and expel students, and ultimately, exclude students from school communities, when they exhibit wrongful behaviour. Brehl looks at how a school used restorative justice to improve the school’s climate. Photo/Flickr via Twentyfour Students [http://bit.ly/1D26IM7]

A tale of two Catholic high schools

By 
  • March 26, 2015

Recent stories about two Catholic high schools are terrific examples of how government policies can sometimes produce the exact opposite effect as intended.

The first school is Montreal’s Loyola High School, which won the right before the Supreme Court of Canada to teach its students the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective, not some government-ordered milquetoast viewpoint. The other is St. Jean de Brébeuf in Hamilton, which has used common-sense ideas to drastically reduce the number of student suspensions and expulsions in the wake of a government-ordered “zero tolerance” policy.

First, Loyola. In 2008, the Quebec government instituted “Ethics and Religious Culture” (ERC) as part of the province-wide mandatory high school curriculum. The intention — and bureaucratic hope — of the ERC is that it would foster empathy, sharing, mindfulness and critical thinking in young people about other religions and cultures.

And those are worthy ideals. But by suppressing the teaching of various faiths to how a secular government defines each faith is heavy-handed, hardly empathetic and certainly not promoting understanding of others. After all, we’re not talking about public schools but private schools where parents send their children to broaden their faith. Thankfully, the Supreme Court came down on the side of Loyola parents and teachers.

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