I might have went a bit overboard, but the article really annoyed me:
"Some said it was their heritage, that it was good to move forward but it was also good to have Catholic schools."
Paganism, druids, sectarian violence, alcoholism, and rotten potatoes are also part of Irish heritage; Catholicism belongs in history class with the rest of them, not as an ethos to penetrate the entire curriculum and take valuable hours of education time that could better to be spent teaching maths and language skills.
The worst aspect of this article is that it is sneaky; Ms O'Brien tries to sound understanding of the other side while merely expressing a harmless personal opinion of why the it is important that Catholic schools prevail. In reality, it is a very measured attempt to sway people by cherry-picking points from a biased survey and erecting the imaginary threat of an atheist school in which children are indoctrinated into disbelief with the same shamelessness as they are indoctrinated into Catholicism in RC schools.
The survey conducted was undertaken by the Catholic Schools Partnership. It had 237 participants made up of "those involved and interested in Catholic primary education". This is a incredibly biased survey involving a very small number of participants, who responded to an invitation targeted towards "those who are interested in the future of Catholic schools" (page 48 of Report). Also consider that these (primary school) students being surveyed and responding that Catholic schools are important to their heritage are being educated by none other than Catholic schools. It seems unfair to interview children about their attachment to the only school they've ever attended.
Not only that, but if you look at the report on the survey, it is selective reporting of open answers provided by various participants. If does not offer any kind of information that can be charted or graphed to represent any "negative" responses; indeed, given the lack of attempt to invite people opposed to RC education, it is unlikely there were negative responses, but had there been any, they simply could have been omitted from the report.
But of course, Breda O'Brien doesn't expect her unsuspecting readers to question the 57-page report or it's objectives. Perhaps she does not question the report herself.
A survey like this needs to be conducted by the State, and the participants need to be parents, teachers and community members interested in Education, NOT the preservation of Catholic Schools, and all demographics need to be equally represented.
As for the Richard Dawkins school - it's put into this article either out of ignorance, or as a calculated tactic to scare parents. The demand is for secular education, which has no interest in singing about heaven or worshipping a statue of anyone. The most dangerous lessons your child will receive in a secular school are in maths, literacy, critical thinking, etc; Religious indoctrination is left for parents and their religious communities.
My belief that O'Brien is being sneaky is of course objective; she could very well be so brainwashed that she believes this nonsense and thinks she really is being fair and objective. I thought the reference to the RD school was particularly sneaky; it's not coherent at all with her claim that she is "sympathetic" to parents who do not want faith-based education.
She starts off sounding sympathetic to the idea of sending her child to a school that clashes with her beliefs, and instead of elaborating on that point, she ensures the reader that her completely imaginary example is an overstatement of what a normal atheist school is like. The reader forgets the plight of the non-RC parent, and is instead troubled at the idea of their non-offensive Catholic school being replaced by an atheist school where their
beliefs are the ones that will need to be "accommodated".
The only way that point could have been coherent, after propping up her imaginary school for atheists to demonstrate the unfairness of forcing parents to choose from schools that violate their beliefs and principles, would be to concede that no person should be put in that position.
So, she's either sneaky, or completely deluded and
incoherent. Either way, she's not as sympathetic as she claims. Unless it's one of those "I feel sorry for you, but what I want is more important" kind of sympathies.