Future for Catholic Schools

First, to the moderators, I’d really like to get a specifically “Traditionalist” take on this issue, so please don’t move it if possible.

I am wondering what thoughts everyone has about the future of Catholic schools in America. In our area, we’ve seen schools in the city (Chicago) closing in large numbers for years, largely due to demographic shifts. Now, however, out here in the rural areas (where towns of 10,000 often had 2+ Catholic elementary schools) we are seeing a lot of closing, consolidation, and massive increases in tuition.
Many of these schools leave a lot to be desired in the religious ed. area, but in spite of that are still much better than our public schools - permanent police presence from middle school up. Unfortunately, I don’t even think making the schools perfectly orthodox would save a lot of them from going away over the next 10 years.
I think the root of the problem is probably economic. Even paying our teachers and staffs significantly less than their public school counterparts, tuition rates are simply out of reach of a significant segment of the faithful, and in a small town, those that can afford it often aren’t a large enough group to keep a school open.
I’m beginning to think that a system built on the premise of nearly free labor (teaching sisters and brothers) can’t survive without them. I’m curious what others are seeing in their own areas, and any stories of how this trend has been reversed.

My wife and I are expecting our first child in the spring, so now I’m suddenly very interested in this topic. Funny how that works. :o

I live in a rural area, and the Catholic schools here are shrinking in enrollment every year. Most of it is due, from what I hear, to the rise in tuition. It is really out of reach for most people, especially if you have more than 1 or 2 kids. According to the Diocesan website, the cost for grades K-8 is $4,508 and for grades 9-12 is $6,541. How many people can actually afford that, even those making a lot of financial sacrafices? I feel sad about this, but I do find consolation that there are very good public schools in our area, and I love the small, rural school that our children attend. Our parishes have relatively strong CCD programs, too, so this is another consolation.

I think some of it is economics. I also think some people don’t see the value of a Catholic education. There are also “Catholic” schools are not providing a Catholic education, so parents pull their kids. —KCT

We have public Catholic Schools and public non-denominational schools in Scotland. I have taught in both. The Catholic schools also have many non catholic children. I even had a child who was from a practicing Pagan family in one of my classes.

As a former Catholic school student, I agree with this 100%. We were taught premarital sex, drinking, drugs, birth control, and homosexuality was ok, and that believing Moses, Abraham, and Adam were real historical figues was not

I think that we catholics are basically IDIOTS for letting the treasure of an expansive catholic educational system crumble out from underneath us. I’m quite lucky so far. We found a catholic school near us that we can afford, that has catholicism as its actual reason for existence (as opposed to elite athletics) and that has superb teachers. It is at crisis enrollment and may not last long enough for our 2 month old to make it through.

But for now, my 4 and 6 YO go to mass with their classmates every other week, learn about the saint of the day, and grow up in an environment that does NOT tolerate destructive behavior by other students or negligence by parents. They are NOT being taught any sort of false exclusivity about science and religion, they are not being taught a version of history that edits out the religious nature and impulse of western civilization, and they are NOT being taught secular sexual (non) values (other than a few problematic issues in the diocesan mandated TAT program that we opt out of).

How do I know? Because I am vigilant about it. I went through a nominal catholic school in the 70’s so I know what the critics say WAS true. But catechesis has made a comeback in recent years and I see things getting better. We were hijacked for well over a decade by modernists. But their grip has slipped and there is still time to salvage much of what our forefathers built for us. Get out there and find out about your local catholic school. If you, like I did, find that it is the real deal, ask about help. In almost every case, they WILL find a way to help you afford it, especially those schools that are hurting for enrollment like ours. Going from 15 to 16 kids in a class hardly costs the school a bit more, so they will sometimes offer you vast reductions in your first couple of years tuition.

Some would say I have to sacrifice a lot to afford it. I don’t see it that way. I see it as making priorities, spending money on what is most important first and then dealing with optional stuff (like more luxurious living) with what is left. I’m not sacrificing anything - I never had it.

The catholic school system in America was created because the catholic immigrants RIGHTLY perceived that the protestant culture that dominated the public schools was hostile to their faith and that sending our kids to them for indoctrination was inherently self-destructive to our faith. Today, we face not a protestant bias in public education, but a moral relativism bias. Make no mistake, this bias is ever bit as destructive as the protestant bias ever was. The only question is whether catholics today will have the vision that our ancestors did…

The other issue for me as a mother of two special needs student is this: I can barely find a CCD class for my boys because of a lack of them and There is no room in Catholic Schools for the disabled. Why?
I love our Catholic Religion and wish it could be a daily part of their school environment, but alas…

Have you considered Catholic Home Schooling? :thumbsup:

Yes, i have, but due to the children’s needs it’s not an option. We would have to pay for all therapies etc.:eek:
The School Districts want the children in District to provide services. Sorry, I really don’t mean to hijack this threat. But we do need Special Education Within the catholic School system.

Depends on the state. I have friends that home school and have a dyslexic son. They had to fight tooth and nail for their rights, but they won and the public school district finally admitted that they had the obligation to provide the same therapy opportunities as the public school kids since they live in district and pay taxes to it.

Ironically, the therapist that works with their son MARVELS at the happiness and self-confidence he has. In her experience, kids with his level of struggle with reading have EXTREMELY low self-esteem issues. None with this kid, he’s never been exposed to an environment where he was mocked by his peers. The baseball team and cub scouts have no idea of his problem.

Home schooling can work, but can be effectively even more expensive than catholic schooling. Worse, it tends to siphon the best parents away from the catholic schools who desperately need your volunteer time and influence on the school culture.

[quote=Home schooling can work, but can be effectively even more expensive than catholic schooling. Worse, it tends to siphon the best parents away from the catholic schools who desperately need your volunteer time and influence on the school culture.

That is a really good point. There aren’t a huge number of Catholic Homeschoolers in our area, but if they felt comfortable having their children in the schools here, then the schools would be a lot stronger both financially and spiritually.

IMO as long as traditionalists opt for homeschooling instead of parochial schools, and staying involved and active and being watchdogs on what is taught, the Catholic schools will continue to play less of a role in the Church --tragic, and exactly what the US bishops were worried about when they founded the parochial school system.

Unfortunately many parochial schools are Catholic in name only; therefore, sending ones children to them would be immoral.

Its a huge problem by us. The absolute numbers of homeschoolers isn’t huge, but when I wonder at how much MORE of a vibrant catholic community our school could be (not to mention the impact on financial health of the school), it makes me feel weary… :frowning:

Calling all homeschoolers:
Anybody want to join a conspiracy to bolster/create the best CATHOLIC school in northwest DuPage County, IL? We are too far north to get to the Ragnum Christi school in the region, so I think there MIGHT just be enough of us out there if we centralize… PM me if you want info.

Not sure how close to Chicago you are, but in some areas the schools have been mandated to be “self supporting” by the bishop, this is especially common in Illinois. I live adjacent to the state line, but in Indiana and our Catholic schools do not have to be self sufficient so our schools get financial assistance from the parish.

We are very fortunate that the parish school my daughter attended provided a great basic teaching of the Catechism and also taught that religion is a fun thing too. My daughter is now in “middle school” and attends a different Catholic school 2 towns north of us where they also have a great religious education training for the kids.

I’ve always been one who feels that we need to look at the various “missions” of our parish and support them, one of those missions is our parish school. So while my daughter now attends a different school at a different parish, I still make my donations our home parish school too.

Homeschooling is attractive, but it takes kids away from the faith family of the parish school. I would strongly suggest that, if possible, people should try to work to strengthen their local parish schools. JMHO.

Our parish started a Catholic grade school, and I believe it was the first one opened in 40 years in the diocese. The parish is in, or draws from two suburban towns of Portland, and both are fairly well off in terms of demographics income.

The school is expanding, and has each year (I think this is the third year). I don’t know what tuition is, but they have a very successful auction each year as part of their funding process.

Catholic schools in general are in serious trouble, however, due if to nothing else, the loss of having nuns staffing each classroom. There is a dearth of nuns who can teach, and the demographics of most orders means that they no longer have the luxury of teaching at or below minimum wage. The information I have seen is that most Catholic schools pay about 80% of salary parity to the public school system. Often they are staffed by very dedicated and good teachers; but that is not always the case.

The very bottom line is that it costs significantly to educate a child, and tuition is a normal part of that equation. If both parents do not work, then it will be necessary for the wage earner to be earning signifcantly over the median wage of the area to be able to afford to keep a child in school; with several children, it can quickly become problematic. The net result is that while there may be tuition assistance to some, someone else somewhere is picking up the slack. Economics are the base issue of keeping the school open. If any part of that economic base starts to slip, the school itself can become problematic.

I’m a speech therapist in the schools, and my home schooling parents bring their kids to the school to see me there at the public school. It really isn’t a big deal. We just schedule a time for them at the beginning of the year. And yes, it’s a free service, too.

My son goes to the school on our parish’s property. It is no longer technically affiliated with the parish, but is still a Catholic school. I went to Catholic school all my life, but I’m shocked at how things have changed. I can only speak for my situation, though.

My son is in first grade. I’ve asked him on numerous occasions, “what did you learn in religion class today?” He responded, “we didn’t have religion class.”

He got his report card last week. (Off topic, but he got all A’s except for a B+ in penmanship.) Anyway, religion was not listed on the report card. Since when did Catholic schools stop teaching religion?

The school is comprised of many ethnicities, and very few Catholics from what I’ve seen. My problem isn’t that I’m concerned about my son needing “religion class”, I think I’m doing just fine with him on my own. But I think there are many impressionable (non-Catholic) young minds that could and should be evangelized in the Faith.

When I went to Catholic Grade School in the 40’s tuition was $25 per family. Nuns handled the teaching with Mother Superior doing double duty teaching 7th and 8th grade and being Principal. I think an additional Nun taught Music and cooked. There was a total of 45 to 50 children in a class room. The Bishop cum Cardinal obligated parents to send their kids to Catholic School unless excused by the Pastor. In the city where I now reside I knew at least two sets of parents who were told to get their children into a Catholic School or be subjected to excommunication. That would have been in the late 50’s to early 60.s.

One further comment I would make and that is that many of the nuns and priests that “went over the wall” after Vatican II were products of the Catholic Schools that were still faithfully teaching the Faith as were parents who derided Humanae Vita.

I appreciated the Catholic Education that I got from 1st Grade to Bachelor’s Degree. Fifty years later I still think those schools did a wonderful job and the fact I cited above really puzzles.

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