A private, Catholic school has quietly introduced a social justice course for seniors. It’s required for graduation. One mother says it’s a social justice indoctrination course “disguised as a religion class.” The curriculum is vague. Much is kept secret. Now she is demanding answers.
Speaking under the name Anne Fletcher, for fear of having her daughter targeted at school or jeopardizing her job—her employers are not friendly to conservative values—she shared her concerns regarding the school’s new direction. She also provided documents to support her claim that the new class is little more than critical race theory (CRT), with no academic benefit
“We chose this school because we thought it was more conservative compared to some of the others,” Mrs. Fletcher told The Epoch Times.
The John Carroll School (JC) is a private, independent Catholic school in Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland. She pays over $20,000 per year for tuition and related costs.
The contradiction in the class’s title bothers Mrs. Fletcher.
On the student’s schedule, it’s called “Social Justice-101.”
Social justice training, on the other hand, frequently pushes students to see the world through the lens of systemic racism and inequity, in other words, that of CRT.
JC assistant principal Danica Attanasio told Mrs. Fletcher the social justice class is required for graduation.
Religion 12-Catholic Social Teaching
Mrs. Fletcher is unsettled by the ambiguity surrounding the curriculum.
The “syllabus” is particularly vague.
The document states that classroom assignments, tests, and homework will be done primarily in the form of essays.
“There aren’t even any books,” Mrs. Fletcher said. “For three years I bought religion books and books for English class. But this year, no religion books. I’ve never seen a class with no books. How will I know what’s being covered in class?”
Grades are based on an equally vague points system.
Students receive up to five points at the end of each eight-day cycle based on their level of “participation” in the class.
Mrs. Fletcher questions whether “participation” means the student’s level of involvement or the degree to which a student agrees with the teacher.
“With the social justice course being mandatory and disguised as a religion course, she’s already being brainwashed by it,” Mrs. Fletcher said. “That’s why I reached out to you.”
Knowing that CRT often goes hand in hand with transgender ideology, Mrs. Fletcher worries that JC could be indoctrinating her daughter through a secretive social justice course.
“My daughter came home yesterday and said she was confused,” she recalled. “When I asked her to show me what confused her she wouldn’t show me. That’s because she knows it’s something I won’t want to see. You shouldn’t want to hide things from your parents.”
Up to 10 points are possible for students who can “explain the key points of his or her reflection” when answering questions.
Bishops’ Curriculum Guidance, ‘Left-Leaning Philosophy’
To justify the course, Ms. Attanasio told Ms. Fletcher that it came directly from “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Curriculum Framework” (pdf).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the United States.
Page 41 of the bishops’ 2007 document promotes social justice concepts under the guise of “Catholic Social Teaching,” defining “the appropriate use of wealth and other resources,” and advocating for “solidarity” in that “all people should participate in society” to “work for common good.”
An even more revealing look at the promotion of social justice by the USCCB is its version of the Catholic meditation called the Stations of the Cross.
It calls the USCCB “mostly a forum for bishops to share ideas with each other, pray with one another, and discern together the will of God as they lead the dioceses with which they have been entrusted.”
Knowing that JC has chosen to follow the USCCB’s curriculum guidance confirms Mrs. Fletcher’s concerns.
“This goes against the principles of Catholic school as we knew it,” she said. “It seems that they’re bending to suit the ideological and political narrative of left-leaning philosophy and Marxist principles. Individualism is discouraged, as is thinking for one’s self, to fit some collectivist bent in the church and government elites.”
‘It’s a Disaster!’
Mrs. Fletcher was most disturbed by an assignment her daughter recently received.
She was given a story to read. No author was named. After reading the story her daughter was told she would be expected to share her “key points” of “reflection. Her answer, whether through an essay or class discussion, would determine how many points she received.
In the tale, contestants are asked if they are “Republican or Democrat.”
One says she is a Democrat because her family has always been Democrats.
The contestant who proclaimed she was “a proud Republican” says she “became a Republican” when she saw “how much better the Republican Party handled the terrible events of January Sixth.”
She’s asked to “expand on that.”
“America is the greatest country in the world,” she replies. “The Republicans believe that, and so do I. This became clear to me on January Sixth.”
A third contestant claims to be “a monarchist.”
“Democracy debases the character of the public,” she lectures, blaming the “vitriol and violent rhetoric” on the fact that America’s citizens are allowed to vote and elect their leaders.
“Monarchy,” she preaches, “would breed healthy skepticism of power,” arguing that “it’s not an accident” that “the People’s Republic of China, and the Mongolian People’s Republic” “boast about their representative nature.” To her, these governments “make for a healthier body politic.”
“Jim found himself clapping …” the story continues.
While the self-proclaimed monarchist doesn’t win, the story ends with Mr. Driscoll complimenting her on her answer and inviting “a woman with half his years and twice his IQ” out for coffee so he can “hear more.”
The so-called monarchist’s description of “the People’s Republic of China, and the Mongolian People’s Republic” is full of inaccuracies.
Neither of the countries are ruled by a monarchy.
The People’s Republic of China is ruled by a dictator in a communist system. Unlike a monarchy, where rulers are based on royal lineage, dictators claim power, often through the violent overthrow of the prior ruler.
In 1992, Mongolia adopted a new constitution and established for itself a free market economy. Since then, like the United States, Mongolia has conducted numerous elections to choose its own presidents and legislators.
The Revolutionary War was fought in order to escape the oppression of England’s monarchy and to become a free and independent nation.
“It’s a disaster!” Mrs. Fletcher said of the Jim Driscoll story. “I don’t even know who wrote it.”
Whether the story is meant to raise questions about democracy or promote monarcho-socialism, one thing is sure, Mrs. Fletcher observed: “It’s glorifying communism. If my daughter keeps getting tidbits like this every day she’s going to walk out thinking this is normal.”
She also doesn’t like the way the story references Jan. 6 and the way it “mocks Trump with the beauty pageant.”
Michelle Christman, a JC alumnus and 2022 candidate for state senator, says she is not a fan of “social justice warrior programs.”
Moreover, she doesn’t like that the school is hiding things from parents.
“The school needs to be transparent,” she told The Epoch Times. “When you’re talking about a private school, a parent is paying for that. There needs to be clarity as to what is being taught. Especially in today’s day and age. We are absolutely seeing what these social justice warrior programs have done. They’re taking the United States’ history and sweeping it under the rug. Children don’t even understand what freedom is, or what’s in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Ms. Christman is also alarmed by the way parents like Mrs. Fletcher are afraid to come forward publicly.
“A lot of these parents are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid their kids will be targeted,” she said. “That’s such a shame, in America, that we feel like we have to remain silent when our First Amendment right is the freedom of speech. It’s unacceptable.”
A Moms for Liberty member told Mrs. Fletcher she has two choices.
“You can go full force and your kid doesn’t graduate, or you can play it cool and gather as much information as possible,” Mrs. Fletcher was advised.
She’s choosing the latter.
She doesn’t want her daughter to fail “just because someone has an axe to grind.”
The irony here is in the school’s history.
The John Carroll School is named after Archbishop John Carroll. The JC website says the archbishop laid “the foundation for the Catholic Church in America” and established a Catholic educational system in the fledgling nation.
He knew Ben Franklin and was a cousin of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Pushing Back Against Woke Toxicity
While JC and other Catholic schools may be sneaking “woke” ideology into their classes, as reported in National Catholic Register and National Review, Catholic educator Michael Van Hecke says there are a growing number of Catholic schools that are doing exactly the opposite.
Mr. Van Hecke is president of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, which promotes classical Catholic education and has a membership of more than 200 schools nationwide.
He told The Epoch Times: “While some Catholic schools chase the latest political trend, we are pleased to see the rapid growth of renewal, which arises from myriad schools fleeing the ideology of CRT and other politically charged demands.”
The Epoch Times reached out multiple times to the president, principal, assistant principal, and assistant principal of student affairs at The John Carroll School. Mr. Stahl was also contacted. None of them responded.