How it’s New York: We know what it’s like when the president visits– and private schools, and religious schools, are a big deal in this city.obamaandcameron
How it’s Irish: Obama talked about Catholic and Protestant education in Northern Ireland, among other things.
President Barack Obama has received some flak for criticizing segregated schools. I don’t think he was exactly criticizing religious education per se, but some people think so. What, The Washington Times
What do you think?
In The L.A. Times, Michael McGough thinks otherwise, pointing out that Northern Ireland is not the United States, and that Obama was talking about public and not private schools:

Today,  thanks to Vatican II and the relentless asssimilation of Catholics, it’s common for Catholics to attend public schools (where teachers no longer recite from the Protestant King James Bible).  But it is also common for Protestants, Jews and others to attend Catholic schools. And a lot of children, Catholic and non-Catholic, will attend both public and Catholic schools over the course of their education.

Society in Northern Ireland is much more stratified, and the role of religiously defined schools more problematic.  You can be perfectly comfortable with the role of Catholic schools in the American context and worry about their contribution to estrangement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Here’s a fairly balanced report from AFP.
Obama and Cameron brush away divides in N. Ireland school (via AFP)

US President Barack Obama did his bit to bridge sectarian divides Monday in a painting class with primary schoolchildren, pushing reconciliation in Northern Ireland. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting the G8 summit, took Obama to a school in Enniskillen, a town once the site of one…

Gwen Orel
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The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.