Letter to the Editor: More Questions about Greek Education

Thank you for the Viewpoint by Christopher Tripoulas on the Archdiocesan education conference which appeared in the November 30 issue. Education is of vital importance to the community and it is one of the major factors that enabled the Greek-American community to become so successful among all the immigrant groups, but I think school closings are not the fault of one priest. To think that one priest can close down a school gives him a lot of power when he probably inherited a poorly run institution in the first place.

If anything, the changing demographics of a neighborhood probably cause most school closings. Why would an upper middle class Greek family want to send their children to a private school in a neighborhood where Greeks no longer live? Out of nostalgia? The safety of the children should be the uppermost concern, not that a church school still exists there. And let’s be honest, the quality of education should also be at the top of the list. Why would families spend their hard-earned money on expensive private schools when their children end up two-three years behind in all subjects compared to public school children who attend school for free?

What about Greek afternoon schools that seem to continue to do relatively well in spite of day schools closings? What motivation do kids have to attend when so many other activities draw their interest and time? The motivation to attend and finish Greek afternoon school for many youngsters in my day was that you would get language credit for high school and it would look good on your college applications that you had taken the Regents exam and passed in another language besides the required Spanish one, for example. It would set you apart from the rest of your classmates. Did that mean you were fluent? No, it meant you were trained to take a very simple language test that in essence is the same in every language and if you could pass those two, you could probably pass all of them.

If parents were so dedicated to their children learning Greek, why don’t they speak it at home? Total immersion is the best way to learn a language, but how many are willing to send their kids to Greece to learn “real” Greek and not the “Greeklish” most speak here? If there is no consistency to the quality of education, no unity among those in charge of schools throughout the Diaspora, how can anyone move forward with this ideal of “Greek education” that doesn’t seem to exist in reality?

 

Christine Perdikopoulos

San Francisco, CA