Can Catholic Schools Be Saved?


#1

You know the story about the kid whose parents got fed up with their son’s constant discipline problems in the public school? ‘That’s it!’ says the dad. ‘It’s Catholic school for you.’ They sent him. They waited. No calls from school. ‘What’s up?’ the dad finally asks. ‘The nuns been boxin’ your ears?’ ‘No,’ says the kid. ‘They didn’t have to. When I got to school, I saw this guy hanging from a cross with nails in his hands and feet and I figured they meant business.’


#2

I’m sure they can, but I don’t know how. Where I live, our property taxes run about 20K per year. Most of this goes to supporting our excellent public schools. How can a Catholic school compete with this? Most people I know can’t afford to send their children (3 or 4 or 5) to a Catholic school with tuition at 4K per child, on top of property taxes of atleast 10K per year. Unfortunately, parents who may seem well off, don’t really get any kind of financial aid, and many who would LOVE to send their children to Catholic schools, simply can’t afford it, here in NJ.


#3

Yes, but will they be the Catholic schools of fifty years ago, 100 years ago, the ones largely built on legend, the one tucked into every parish corner, with sisters and brothers raising hte children of immigrants? No.

Parish schools have been forming co-ops and regional schools for over twenty years now. Belong to X, Y, and Z parish in the co-op or region- tuition is based on one formula. I know in our school, after more than 3 children, you’ll be paying the same rate as for 3 children, so there is an advantage to a large family.


#4

$20,000?! You are definitely in my prayers.
Incidentally, I don’t necessarily think the more money you put into something always makes it better. We belong to a wonderful parish and I think my pastor does a great job with our parish school. It seemed a natural choice to send our kids there.
The expense wasn’t always easy, and we are so grateful the entire parish picks up part of the expense of running a parish school. We are proud to live in a parish with a school and will always support it.


#5

IMO, more people would send their kids to Catholic schools if it was more reasonably priced. Back when I was younger, there wasn’t tuition at parish schools, it was put your money in the basket on Sunday and that helped run the school. Then as people quit going every Sunday:( or quit giving as much because of whatever reason, they had to switch all the parish schools in our area to tuition based. My whole thinking on it is that if they had more nuns teach that would keep the cost of tuition down, hence having more students. But, then again with the shortage of nuns/sisters that is also hard to imagine happening. :shrug: just my opinion.


#6

I think that Catholic Schools can be saved with the right people. The Pastors have to hire good principals for the elementary schools. I have found that (at least in my unscientific study based on if enrolement is increasing or decreasing) the parish schools in this area only improve if there is a good solid, dependable Catholic environment at the school. The ones with the principals who are partially anti-Catholic teachings seem to be decreasing in numbers. I think if a solid Catholic (not a wishy-washy Catholic) foundation and teachings were incorporated into the schools, the numbers would slowly increase.

Also, and this is me probably 100% stereotyping (appologies ahead of time), those principals of Catholic schools who tend to be more rebellious of Catholic teaching aren’t always kind to their staff (bitterness towards the Church pours over to disrespect for the teaching staff, especially those who are trying to put the “Catholic” back into Catholic schools).

I have seen friends who were mistreated by their bosses (the principals) because of their “conservative” Catholic teachings within their classrooms (heck, when I was a teacher at an all-girls Catholic high school I was told to uninvite a guest speaker who is Magasterium following, a woman, and who has a long history with the media because of her loyalty to the Magistirium). Oh, and the principal at the time was a sister. From speaking with my former colleagues and other Catholic school teachers I know, this is not an uncommon attitude given by principals toward teachers who follow and teach what the Church teaches.

When the schools go back to teaching what the Church teaches and having an environment where following Church teachings is encouraged, I believe our Catholic schools can and will be saved. This doesn’t even require the religious to be the teachers as was the case before the 60s, it just simply requires anyone (lay or religious) to teach according to the Church and not to stray from the Church’s teachings.


#7

In my neck of the woods-michigan- Catholic schools are struggling. We have about 30,000 people in my city and we have 4 Catholic elementary schools, one Catholic middle school, and one Catholic high school. I think that what most don’t realize is that if MORE would send their kids there, tuition would go way down! Our tuition is about $5000 per year for our daughter who will start Kdg. next fall. We’re not looking forward to the extra expense, but public school here is not an option. Our governor is constantly cutting the budget, and my husband happens to be a public school teacher. He is coming home every night telling or horror stories from assorted public schools. I fear for those families. One district nearby, one of the “elite” districts, recently cut their bussing, layed off 30 teachers, and are forced to make class sizes up to 45 kids! I look at our struggling Catholic schools and think- whatever it costs, I’ll pay. My only wish is that the Catholic schools would go back to also teaching the actual catechism. it seems like most within our diocese, even though they have religion class every day, don’t teach the catechism the way I was taught it. twk


#8

In the diocese we used to live in, tuition was free for all registered/active members of the diocese. Here, it is still very cheap. I am very glad of that, or we couldn’t afford it either. Why is it that some dioceses are able to do that, and others aren’t? We have a very good, but small school that works hard on academics, but doesn’t have a lot of extracurriculars. Parents are expected to be very involved as well.


#9

We are really lucky. We have a really good Catholic grade school close buy. The principal is just an amazing good Catholic woman and all the teachers there are exceptional. It costs about $2k a year for our daughter to go to montessori pre-k, that’s one of there more expensive programs. Tuition is offset buy each family being required to put in 20 volunteer hours a year , which isn’t something I mind at all. I don’t know what I’m going to do after grade school tho. The middle schools and high schools around here just aren’t good.


#10

Well, everything in NJ is expensive. Salaries too, and there are hardly any more nuns and priests around here to work for free! Each year our archdiocese withdraws more and more support from its schools. Many have gone private. With the exception of some inner cities, the schools are doing ok, but not great. Many Catholics send their children to public school (which are top notch in most of the wealthy suburbs).


#11

Here’s a related article from Education Next by the Hoover Institution, by Peter Meyer. Excerpt:

Despite a growing Catholic population (from 45 million in 1965 to almost 77 million today, making it the largest Christian denomination in the United States), Catholic school enrollment has plummeted, from 5.2 million students in nearly 13,000 schools in 1960 to 2.5 million in 9,000 schools in 1990. After a promising increase in the late 1990s, enrollment had by 2006 dropped to 2.3 million students in 7,500 schools. And the steep decline would have been even steeper if these sectarian schools had to rely on their own flock for enrollment: almost 14 percent of Catholic school enrollment is now non-Catholic, up from less than 3 percent in 1970. When Catholic schools educated 12 percent of all schoolchildren in the United States, in 1965, the proportion of Catholics in the general population was 24 percent. Catholics still make up about one-quarter of the American population, but their schools enroll less than 5 percent of all students.

What happened to the Catholics? What happened to a school system that at one time educated one of every eight American children? And did it quite well.

My Catholic elementary school closed a couple years ago with almost no nuns and not many Catholic students.


#12

Can Catholic schools be saved? Of course.

Will Catholic schools be saved? That’s a horse of a different color.

With strong leadership, we can save our schools – and even expand them. But our Bishops must lead. They must lay out a plan to save and expand Catholic schools. They must explain to us why it’s important. They must tell us in no uncertain terms that we – all of us – must support Catholic schools.

They must tell those of us who no longer have children of school age that we are not relieved of the responsibility. They must tell those of us who live in tiny parishes (like my own in Mountain View, Arkansas) that even though we are too small to have a Catholic school here, we must whole-heartedly support those elsewhere.

They must call up on us in no uncertain terms – and then show us the fruits of our labor and giving.

If they will do that, we will respond.


#13

Not only is it a “related” article, it’s the exact same article that’s linked in the original post.:smiley:


#14

*Despite a growing Catholic population (from 45 million in 1965 to almost 77 million today, making it the largest Christian denomination in the United States), Catholic school enrollment has plummeted, from 5.2 million students in nearly 13,000 schools in 1960 to 2.5 million in 9,000 schools in 1990. After a promising increase in the late 1990s, enrollment had by 2006 dropped to 2.3 million students in 7,500 schools. And the steep decline would have been even steeper if these sectarian schools had to rely on their own flock for enrollment: almost 14 percent of Catholic school enrollment is now non-Catholic, up from less than 3 percent in 1970. When Catholic schools educated 12 percent of all schoolchildren in the United States, in 1965, the proportion of Catholics in the general population was 24 percent. Catholics still make up about one-quarter of the American population, but their schools enroll less than 5 percent of all students.

What happened to the Catholics? What happened to a school system that at one time educated one of every eight American children? And did it quite well.*

How sad this is. I have to give credit to my pastor because he is very pro catholic schools, unlike some priests I talk to about it. I hear a lot from priests that the schools were started, like catholic hospitals, to take care of catholics when no one else would, and now are not necessary. Some feel catholic schools can be a financial burden to parishes, and that is why they should go away. Personally, I think money well spent is in faith based education. I feel a responsibility to contribute toward that. When I go to daily Mass and see the student body, or even one grade in attendance, and it is just so normal for these children to be at Mass during the school day, I can’t imagine doing away with catholic schools. I also think about all the school taxes spent in my district, and I can’t believe our little parish school continues to turn out excellent students with the little budget they have in comparison.


#15

As a Catholic parent who has two Catholic schools nearby but does not use them, let me offer some advice to those who might like to save Catholic schools:

#1 Guarantee to us that our Catholic schools are orthodox. When the principal of the local Catholic school comes out in the newspaper actively dissenting from Church teaching or the Pope’s latest encyclical, fire him, priest though he may be! (This one is local.) Do not allow Planned Parenthood to contribute to the sex ed curriculum. (Seen news stories from other cities on this one.) Discipline and do not re-hire teachers who actively teach contrary to the faith.

#2 Guarantee to us that our Catholic schools are safe. My Catholic high school was known as the best place to score drugs (idle rich kids) and easy girls. It was also overpopulated with active gang members and regularly getting tagged. This is the kind of thing parents are trying to AVOID by sending their children to Catholic schools.

#3 Help us afford them! We can’t afford the tuition at the Catholic school, but we also make too much money (supporting a family of 6 on less than $50,000 per year?!) to qualify for scholarship aid. We have four children and one more on the way. We have to feed and clothe them and keep a roof over their heads. If after all that, we can’t afford the Catholic school, well then, we have to find free options. Thank God for charter schools here in Arizona, because regular public schools make me shudder. We have this wonderful option of schools that are publicly funded, yet run like private schools, though secular. If not for those, we’d be home schooling.

So there is my prescription for the people in charge of Catholic schools. Wonder if anyone is listening?


#16

Exactly!


#17

Tuition for Catholic schools are VERY HIGH…and the teachers are still paid way below what the public school teachers make.

We sent our 7 children when tuition was lower and I volunteered to make up what we couldn’t pay. Those days are gone…nuns are gone and now students are dwindling because of cost.

I hate to see it happen, but I think they’ll have to close. The Catholic church needs to focus more on religious training. Leave the academics to the school system and bring the faith back to the parents and young people. There are too many Catholics out there that are ignorant of their faith.:frowning:


#18

Sad state of affairs, and how grand it was back in the day to have everyone on the same page.

However, lay teachers want “benefits”…you know health insurance, pensions…religious didn’t require that (due to the vow of poverty). Most lay teachers are women, whose husbands can make up the other 2/3rds of the family income and he carries the health insurance and retirement for both of them. If there is a lay principal, then you are talking “more” money. Forget school nurse, the school my children went to had a “volunteer” who was a registered nurse, but she could only work 3 days a week. The secretary and/or a mom volunteer doled out a meds and aided sick children the other two days. (can you spell law suit?)


#19

The problem with this, in our town at least, is that kids’ days and their parents’ days are filled up with “other” things. First of all they are in school all day. Even if there are few extracurricular activities, there’s the homework, baths, family dinner, etc. How is there time for everything? There’s just no way to compare spending an hour a week in REP with 35 hours in a Catholic school (I’m talking about the good ones here). A big advantage of Catholic school is the ability to take advantage of the “teachable moment” – a time when a natural conflict or situation may come up – and the opportunity for the teachers/staff to help the kids deal with it with their faith steering them in their actions. I taught in a public school. I can’t count the number of times I would have loved to have been in a Catholic school so I could give my REAL advice on how we should handle the situation we were in…


#20

I agree 100%.

I know plenty of kids not in Catholic school because of the extra curricular activity expenses, who seem to have the money to be on very expensive sports teams and have all the latest gadgets.
And as for a nurse volunteer, isn’t that a good thing that a person is willing to give their time to make something work for her parish? where would the Catholic Church be without volunteers?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.