By all the evidence, high schools and middle schools are not teaching writing skills in an effective way, if they are teaching them at all. The exception seems to be Catholic schools. More than a few commentators remembered with a mixture of fondness and pain the instruction they received at the hands of severe nuns. And I have found that those students in my classes who do have a grasp of the craft of writing are graduates of parochial schools. (I note parenthetically that in many archdioceses such schools are being closed, not a good omen for those who prize writing.)I really want to start a Catholic school. Really, truly. My building used to be a Catholic school; I'd like it to be a Catholic school again.
By the way, I do realize that if I had actually attended Catholic schools as a child I might feel different. But I was raised a flat-footed Methodist, as I think I once heard Huston Smith say on TV, and to me the Catholic Church was magic. The nuns in their black habits, the priests, the Holy water in the doorways and the crucifixes on the wall ---- and the sign of the cross! Oh my.
A couple of years ago I asked my second to oldest sister whether she had liked the sign of the cross as a child, and she said at once and with great enthusiasm, "Of course!" She had been so taken by the Catholic Church she wanted to be Catholic. I had no idea. Were all 4 of us kids having our own private Catholic crush?
Truth to tell, my own Catholic crush wasn't so private. I took piano lessons from the nuns for years, and my parents made arrangements for me to attend the Catholic school one day each school year.
I remember reading somewhere that charter schools copied Catholic schools, and the observation struck me as true. I bet, if you scratched the surface, you'd find a lot of charter founders who as children pressed their noses against the windows of a Catholic school, outside looking in.