Catholic school enrollment continues to fall in US

**Catholic school enrollment continues to fall in US
**
CWN - April 05, 2013

The number of students enrolled in Catholic primary and secondary schools in the United States has fallen by 1.5% in the past year to 2,001,740, according to data released by the National Catholic Education Association.

More than 5.2 million students were enrolled in Catholic schools in the early 1960s, with 2,647,301 enrolled in 2000.

148 Catholic schools have closed or consolidated in the past year, while 28 have opened. There are now 6,685 Catholic schools, down from almost 13,000 in the early 1960s and 8,146 in 2000.

The average parish school tuition is now $3,673, while the average high school tuition for a freshman is $9,622.

75% of teachers in Catholic schools are laywomen, 22% are laymen, 2% are sisters, and 1% are priests, deacons, or brothers

This has been evident for some time, but the news is nonetheless depressing.

Probably due to the economy and the fact that many, if not most Catholic schools are Catholic in name only. If I had a family and the income to afford Catholic school for my kids, I would not send them to a Catholic school in my archdiocese. In fact, I’ve thought about the idea of suing some Catholic schools in civil court for “false advertising” I guess would be the term. Parents send their kids to these schools assuming they will be getting church teaching and instead they are taught anything but Catholic teaching. At my Catholic high school, for example, I was taught that Jesus may have been gay, Jesus did not know he was God, moral issues (premarital sex, birth control, abortion, etc) are only wrong if your conscience tells you it is. I could go on and on.

Does anyone know what the stats are for Catholic Homeschooling? Just based on our experience, it sure seems to be rising very fast. It is a cost-effective means of providing a superior Catholic education with more flexibility than most private or public schools.

It would be interesting to see how many people who leave Catholic schools behind end up home schooling, instead.

Where we live, there aren’t even any Catholic schools available - most Catholic families choose public school, Evangelical Christian and SDL schools (which DO proselytize against Catholicism, though they promise not to when recruiting new students).

School and vouchers is something that seems to help Catholic school enrollment

Just another example of the confusion that needs to be addressed by our leaders.

I would not send my children to our local Catholic school. My siblings attended there and they were immediately classified into the “have not” category that the rest just had to put up with out of charity. Those of us who did not go there were classified as sub-human. My sister and I could not play on the same community (as in city-sponsored) softball team because the other parents were uncomfortable with their children being exposed to a public school kid. By the time my siblings were in third grade, the standard of bully or be bullied was well in place in that school and the “room mothers” were full participants. That school is nothing about Jesus and all about elitism, social status, and keeping white kids out of school with black kids. (With the exception of the occasional child adopted from Africa or Haiti) The religion teachers don’t teach any controversial Catholic teachings and the parents don’t want them to because they don’t believe in it themselves. The vast majority are nowehre to be seen at Mass. The children end up hating the faith and leaving it. What you get for your $2000 is a stuffy feeling of superiority, a lot of teachers who can’t handle students with special needs and yet boast about their superior classroom management (which consists of expelling or cutting off the scholarship of any kid who is having difficulty), and no music class. If even a small percentage of Catholic schools in this country are run the way this one has been for the past three generations, it’s no wonder that former students (and those who were deemed unworthy to be students) have no intenetion of bringing their own children there, especially where there is a good public school alternative or an option to homeschool.

This is so sad to me. I had a wonderful Catholic school experience and I wish that for every child. From the Benedictines, to the Sisters of Charity, to the Jesuits, my Catholic education was the best. I grew up surrounded by people who loved and served God and showed me how that love impacted the world. I’m thankful every day for those remarkable Priests and Sisters and for my parents who sacrificed to send me there.

I agree that the “warm, fuzzy Jesus” trend that began in earnest during the late 1960’s had an impact. I was lucky that it did not infest my grammar school-we still had daily Mass and the Baltimore Catechism, although that ended with the 70’s and the arrival of a new pastor. High school was Jesuit, and tough. High expectations, rigorous academics and strong athletics.

I often wonder if the reason education in general is so bad is that we have softened everything up. Our parents and teachers expected a LOT of us in my school years and most of us delivered. We were simply expected to study hard, respect our teachers and coaches and bring home good grades. It’s almost as if we as a society don’t think our children are capable of anything more than mediocrity.

Sadly, I think as a society, we don’t hold ourselves to standard that is much above mediocrity.

My recent experience with the educational system tells me that many of the problems problems lay squarely at the feet of the parents. They scream for discipline but many fight the schools if they try to discipline THEIR kid. The scream for academic achievement, but many do little or nothing to find out what their kids are actually suppose to be doing. Many think it is enough that they drop their kid off at extracurricular activities, but pay little on attention to the group of amateurs they elected to run the schools.
Are their problem teachers and administrators? Certainly, in my experience, but they are few and far between. Most are dedicated to doing a job made increasingly difficult by factors that are largely outside of their control’
Like you, I had a mostly wonderful educational experience albeit in the public system

I wonder what the break down is between suburban and urban schools. I imagine some areas of growth are in urban areas where schools are failing, but decreasing in areas where public schools have vastly improved in the past 50 years. I recently had a conversation with my dad about this because I often regret not going to a catholic high school instead. His remark was pretty simple that even though the level of education might not have been as high, I got more of a life experience because my high school was much more diverse. It’s true I think the high school I wished I had attended was 99% white and a vast majority were middle and upper class individuals. It unfortunately has become a symbol of elitism, which in my mind can’t be any further from the teachings of Jesus Christ himself. Even more unfortunate is that parents, teachers, and clergy seems to support this if not encourage this type of behavior.

The Catholic high school in my archdiocese has doubled their tuition in the past few years. It’s now $8000 a year.

If memory serves me right, I believe it was like $125-200 per year back in 1965, and the decline had already been under way.

I think the reason more than anything is tuition costs. People simply can’t afford to pay for schooling twice: once through taxes for public school, and again through tuition (which is almost certainly more expensive than taxes for public schools).

My boss (I work in a parish) and the folks I work with think the cost of Catholic education is why enrollment is down. While I agree that’s part of it, I think a bigger part is people’s priorities.

Bigger homes,bigger cars and vacations are no longer seen as luxuries. Many people believe public schools are fine. (“I know some public schools are bad, but the ones in my neighborhood are fine,” is something I hear a lot.)

I worked in a Catholic school that closed due to low enrollment, and I work in a parish whose school enrollment is steadily declining. Given the lack of catechesis the last generation received, I don’t believe they see Catholic education as important for their children.

I think that’s true for some. I think its a combination of all the factors previously mentioned. To people can’t afford it, to lack of it being priority, to people not thinking its actually worth the price because of the lack of solid religious education. The last is the reason we pulled our daughter out of the parish school. But our former parish school is only one of two Catholic schools remaining in our whole county. The other school is holding steady with their enrollment. The next county over, just built two new Catholic elementary schools where none existed before and is building a brand new Catholic high school. So I don’t think there is a answer that is one size fits all type of answer. What is the problem in one region, may not be the problem in another.

I don’t think it’s lack of interest. “It’s the fact that the average taxpayer who sends their kid to private school gets hit twice----once for taxes for public education and again with the private school tuition” as Jason Lewis would say.

Not a lot of people can afford that in an Obama-run economy.

I often wonder if the reason education in general is so bad is that we have softened everything up. Our parents and teachers expected a LOT of us in my school years and most of us delivered. We were simply expected to study hard, respect our teachers and coaches and bring home good grades. It’s almost as if we as a society don’t think our children are capable of anything more than mediocrity.

Quite correct, but I don’t know if you’d like the solutions.

It would mean we cut down on everything from diversity initiatives as core cirricula to ridiculous diagnoses of ADHD and depression and that teacher and school staff get to discipline your kid if he/she acts up.

It also doesn’t help that parents care about how good they look at PTA meetings, to quote commentator Jason Lewis.

It also means getting unions out of the public school system and people actually paying attention to who they elect on the school board, to paraphrase oldcelt.

I’ll make it very simple for them: If you’re not willing to take the time to look into stuff like that, it speaks volumes about you as a parent.

Most are dedicated to doing a job made increasingly difficult by factors that are largely outside of their control’

I think there is a big difference between educators and administrators. Administrators in the education system tend to clog the system and interfere in contractual relationships in teaching between instructor and audience.

It’s over-regulation within the system.

I think a lot of it is overdone, but I also know that there are kids that legitimately do need help and have a better chance of success in school when they get it. If treating a kid’s ADD gets him an education and keeps him from dropping out and ending up a criminal, I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.

As for all the “initiatives”, I’m with you there. Teach reading, math, history and science. I seem to recall that was enough to keep us busy for a whole school day. People with agendas have hijacked education-and those agendas come from BOTH sides of the political spectrum. School board meetings become battles between left and right as both sides want kids taught “their” way.

The key is balance, and that balance has long ago been lost.

The newer ones I know of are quite expensive and seem to cater to upper middle class suburbanites, many of whom are not Catholic.

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.