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The National Association of Catholic School Teachers has released a statement calling on Roman Catholic bishops in the United States to improve labor-management relations within the church.

Referring to a pastoral letter the bishops issued last November, the statement says that, while the bishops have publicly supported the right of all employees to organize and bargain collectively, they have not given teachers in Catholic schools that right. Many teachers have been intimidated, fired, or threatened with dismissal when they sought to bargain collectively, it claims.

The association represents 5,000 Catholic elementary- and secondary-school lay teachers.

"In spite of the overwhelming preponderance of church teaching on the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively, there is a lack of any clearly defined policy and procedure that can be invoked by church employees,'' the association's five-page statement says.

According to John J. Reilly, president of the teachers' group, the association has asked the U.S. Catholic Conference to discuss setting policies on church labor relations.

The Rev. Thomas Gallagher, secretary of education for the Catholic Conference, said the matter had been turned over to the U.S.C.C.'s committee on education.

Copies of the statement, "In Pursuit of Justice: A Call for the Implementation of the Economic Pastoral,'' will be sent to Catholic-school superintendents, Mr. Reilly said.

A report by the Council for Financial Aid to Education shows that voluntary giving to independent elementary and secondary schools reached a new high of $387 million in 1985-86. The figure represents a 27 percent increase since 1984-85, the report says. The rate of increase for that year had been 12.3 percent.

The figures indicate that more than three-fourths of the total support came from individual donors. Corporations gave approximately $18 million, representing a modest 6.4 percent increase over their total gifts in 1984-85.

For information on obtaining copies of the report, contact the C.F.A.E. at 680 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019; telephone: (212) 541-4050.

A Quaker boarding school's plans to send students to work at a school in Nicaragua next year have stirred debate among board members and faculty, who are questioning the institution's "foreign policies.''

Administrators at the George School in Newtown, Pa., plan to send several students to a public high school in Managua for three weeks next March, according to Francis E. Bradley, assistant headmaster and coordinator of the program. Students would attend classes and help repair the Nicaraguan school.

But several of the school's faculty members and its 45-member board have questioned the trip's propriety.

"It's a controversial project, but it seems in keeping with the traditions of the school,'' Mr. Bradley said. "It's an opportunity for peacemaking, for meeting people living in a country that's perceived to be our enemy.''

Controversy over such foreign excursions are not new to the George School, which enrolls 520 students in grades 9-12, about 15 percent of whom are Quakers.

In the early 1950's, the school affiliated itself with a Moscow high school. In the mid-1960's, it organized work camps in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. And in 1982, it began an exchange program with Cuba that some parents and board members are currently re-examining, according to Mr. Bradley.

After discussing the proposed program with the Quaker community in Newtown and with parents, administrators will decide this fall whether to proceed with the Nicaraguan trip, he said.

After three years of discussion and the completion of several studies, the National Catholic Educational Association has decided against developing an accreditation process for its more than 9,000 elementary and secondary schools.

Surveys taken in 1985 and 1986 determined that many of the association's schools wanted and were willing to pay for N.C.E.A. accreditation. But, according to the group's board of directors, the project involved too many complex and unresolved issues, and the cost of establishing an accreditation arm would require heavy subsidies from the association.

In an article appearing in an association newsletter, the N.C.E.A.'s president, Sister Catherine T. McNamee, cited some of the factors that contributed to the board's decision: the growing number of alternative accrediting agencies available for Catholic schools; the academic, ecclesiastical, and legal issues involved; and uncertainty over whether the association should engage in such a process.

In lieu of a formal accrediting system, N.C.E.A. staff members will encourage schools to become accredited by existing programs within and outside the Roman Catholic Church, and will monitor school involvement with accrediting agencies.

Officials of the N.C.E.A. have also announced that 17 national organizations engaged in Catholic education will work jointly to complete a study of the future of such education in the United States.

The project will culminate in a seven-day symposium later this year, at which a common philosophy and plans for the "immediate future'' will be developed, according to the association.

Two black South African students are attending Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn., for a semester, at the school's expense.

The students, Mary Buthelezi and Kirsty Lapan, who is classified under the country's system of racial designations as "colored,'' are both graduates of St. Barnabas School in Johannesburg. Officials there said they hoped that by spending a semester at an American school, the young women would receive scholarships to U.S. universities.

Rachel P. Belash, headmistress of Miss Porter's, decided to offer the experience "as a more positive statement of our concern than divesting stocks,'' according to Nancy Davis, a school spokesman. She added that the school's stock portfolio adheres to the Sullivan Principles on business involvement in South Africa.--K.G.

Vol. 06, Issue 34

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