Principals in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh were told last month that parents who received tuition assistance had to lobby state legislators to pass a school voucher bill -- and document it -- or lose their funding.
The Church has since corrected Assistant Superintendent Ronald T. Bowes directive, which included this threat:
"we must be relentless in our efforts to help pass school choice this year. I am asking you to inform parents that have received tuition assistance that they must contact their legislators and return the contact form attached to you in order to receive a grant next year. I then want you to return these contact forms to me. This way we can insure that a solid effort is being carried out by our diocese."
The attached forms ask for the date, the name of the parent and the school, the name of the state senator and state representative, the number of times contacted and how, the legislator's position and "if oppose, why?"
Yes, nothing like a little arm twisting of those receiving a helping hand to get them to do your political bidding for you, is there?
After Ronald T. Bowes, assistant superintendent for policy and development, emailed those instructions to the principals Oct. 20, the diocese sent out its own directive Nov. 16, saying Mr. Bowes had "misstated long-standing diocesan policy relative to the distribution of financial aid to parents."
Hmmm...nearly a month later. I suspect the Church corrected the memo as such a directive could potentially cost Catholic schools their tax-exempt status, but then again, I'm a cynic.