I am in a panic about the Catholic school situation. We’ve lost about 50% of them since the 1960’s, and enrollment continues to decline.
Some 212 schools closed last year, while only 36 opened. Why? The cost is one reason–elementary schools cost $3000, high schools $7,000. And some leave because the local schools are Catholic in name only. But most leave, I am afraid, because in our corrosively secular culture, people are drifting away from their faith.
Whatever the reason, it is a catastrophe.
The only thing propping up the number of Catholics in America is the huge numbers of Hispanic immigrants. But even there, we face bad news. The immigrants are mostly poor, unable to afford Catholic schools, and, by the second generation, tend to have little connection to the church. Hispanics have over a 40% illegitimacy rate, and they have abortions in huge numbers.
What can be done?? Does anybody have a solution outside of prayer?
I think we could try contacting our bishops and asking why the rates for Catholic schooling are so high (tuition) when, in fact, it should be made available to everyone - not just the privileged. This is wrong. If the Church wants us to keep our faith and our children learning our faith, then it’s up to the Church and its members to make Catholic schooling available to everyone. There is too much bureaucracy involved, unfortunately. That’s only a suggestion - probably not a solution. If I can come with anything else, I’ll post it. I’d like some feedback on this as well! God bless!
There has been some discussion of this recently on another thread. I think, at least for the people I know, that cost is a HUGE factor for many families. In the other thread, someone posted about the diocese of Witchita, I believe, in which all of their Catholic schools are fully funded through donations of parisioners, so that each registered family is given the opportunity to attend for free. I would love to see such a program implemented in EVERY diocese. Probably a pipe dream, though.
I pulled my kids form the Catholic Schools because it was more secular than the public school. My kids were learning little about their faith and very little academically. They spent to much time on computers playing games on the internet. The filters on the police departments computers were set higher than at the Catholic school. They had watched over ten movies before January and they were movies that I would not allow in my house. They had the TV on in the classrooms nearly every day and they watched Cartoon Network. I don’t allow my kids to watch that channel in my house. Why should I pay tuition so they can watch it at school. The books they were using were all from the public school. There faith was only a part of the curriculum twice a week and then a non-Catholic was teaching it out of a watered down book. When I complained about anything I was called a trouble maker. I tried to get on the school board and they took my name off the ballet. It was crazy. I hope that school does close, not because I want revenge, but because it isn’t helping to make good Catholics. There is no need for more poor schools. If you can’t do it better then the public, don’t do it. It’s a waste of time and money. I am homeschooling and finally my children have there faith first. It is hard and takes a lot of work, but it is worth it. I may come off as being pushy while writing this all on this thread, but during this time I offered to help in any way possible. My husband offered to help set the computer filters the way he had them set at the police department. I offered to get the money together to get better religion books. I offered to help teach religion. I organized carnivals. The day after one of my children’s funerals, I dug through my house and found loads of things to bring the parish rummage sale. I cleaned filthy bathrooms. I cleaned classrooms during brakes. I painted, worked fundraisers, wrote grants…
What ever I could do to help I did. When ever they asked me to do something, I did. I wanted the school to be a holy place. If it is not spreading the truth and it is not willing to change then it needs to die. If it is not growing, then it is sick.
Running a school is expensive. Teacher salaries, heating and electricity, insurance (especially after the sex scandals), and maintenance cost much more than they did 20 years ago. Where do you propose that the bishops find the extra funds to subsidize the parish schools? As far as I know, most dioceses aren’t sitting on a giant pile of spare cash.
A better question is…what are YOU doing to increase support for your parish school? Your school’s tuition won’t go down unless you and your fellow parishioners increase their donations to the parish. Don’t blame your bishop – your bishop isn’t responsible for contributing to your parish every Sunday…your fellow parishioners are.
In other words, if your school’s tuition is too high, blame your fellow parishioners, because that’s where the money is supposed to be coming from.
Don’t forget that schools and students were mainly run by and taught by religious (who require a lot less pay). Our schools have gone to mostly lay administrations and faculty, which automatically drives up the cost. So, one must also pray for AND encourage religious vocations, even with their own children (not just someone else’s).
I realize anecdotal evidence cannot explain everything, but I have a few “what do you thinks” that really boggle my mind about our area Catholic schools:
1). One very good, faithful Catholic school has reduced tuition significantly and has FREE tuition for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. There are very few takers. The school is losing kids. So it’s not money, it’s not secular, then what is it?
2). Our school sells scrip like many schools do. The grocery and gas certificates are on sale before and after every Mass, every weekend, and are for sale at a local retail store during the week. It costs NOTHING to use these certificates instead of cash. How many people, out of about 150 at every Mass, stop to buy the certificates? MAYBE 1, on a GREAT day, 4 or 5. What’s up with that? We’ve spoken at Masses, had promotions (chancing off free grocery certificates among many others…). This is supporting the school without spending extra money. I cannot figure out for the life of me why it’s not happening for us.
All I can say for a solution is to try to save one school at a time.
Many of the older parishioners of the parish we once belonged to would have gladly given money to help the Catholic School if the school were truly Catholic. They saw the fruit of the school and decided their money would be better spent elsewhere. Judy Brown explains a lot in her book, “Saving those damned Catholics.”
The reason that the Catholic schools are closing is due to the high cost of running them. This is due to the lack of vocations to the religious life. When my parents were in Catholic school, all of their teachers were sisters. At my current parish, there are no sisters at all. The sisters took a vow of poverty. Lay teachers require a higher salary, and even then they frequently only stay long enough to get enough experience to get hired by a public school, since the public schools pay more.
I know down here in Florida, the need for Catholic school is high. In our diocese, all the Catholic schools have a waiting list. They are even going to build another elementary school in my city, not Orlando. Orlando has many Catholic Schools. At least in our diocese, that I know of, no Catholic family is turned away due to lack of money. They have to apply for a scholarship and usually get it. They pay what they can afford. My sister had two kids in the Catholic school system and only paid $200.00 for both kids. I think it does depend on the State and diocese. I did meet one lady who said that her kids were free up North, forgot the State, because all the people of her parish agreed to pay 10% of their income to the church. She can’t afford it here in Florida, but is on the waiting list and will apply for financial help if they get in.
So one solution could be to get all Catholics to donate 10% of their income to their parish, but getting all of us to do this is another whole issue. I have met many Catholics who complain and than when they leave the Church for another denomination, sure enough, they are paying 10% instead of the dollar a week they gave the Catholics.
I see many people talk like giving the 10% of the first fruits (gross)is optional. Last I can recall it was a requirement for the faithful. I have to agree with what Mike Huckabee said before he left the race. If everyone was putting their 10% in the plate every sunday, there never would have been the need for the big government we see today. Last sentence was a paraphrase of what he said, don’t have the exact quote in front of me. Not only education but charity needs to return to the congregations and that only happens when the parishioners trully tithe.
Your story is very similar to our story. We put our children in the parish school and after a tortuous 5 years, we HAD to pull them. The were being taught a watered down faith, if not out right false hoods (ie: angels are myths, women will be priests some day). It was horrible.
We took our kids to a private school that teaches the Catholic faith, but is not an arch diocesan school. It costs a bit more, but we are willing to make the sacrafice. There were some from the old school that assumed we left for financial reasons, and we’ve had to correct that falsehood. I think its important that they know the real reason why we left. Poor catechesis and poor academics. I was willing ot overlook some poor academics, for the sake of religious education, but it was apparaent that neither was being done well.
Why is our parish school still loosing students? Its for the reasons we left. The teachers are of the generation that never learned their faith. They grew up during the “I’m okay, you’re okay” method of teaching religion. How can they pass on the faith that they were never taught?
We support our parish, our building fund, and the local seminary. We do not give directly to the parish school, instead we support our tiny, finanacially strapped school. I’m hopefule that our parish will have a strong school someday, but for now, my children will not attend there. We have a new priest who is making changes, but it is slow going. Our bishop is wonderful, but can only do so much. It is at the parish level that things must change.
I wouldn’t panic about the decline of Catholic schools. In our area alone, there are 4 private schools, teaching the Catholic faith, but they are not allowed to call themselves “Catholic” because they are not under the diocesean control. We remain independent so we can avoid teaching the mandated “sex ed” classes and other non-sense. Homeschooling is also on the rise, for the main reasons we left (homeschooling would be our next option if our little school wasn’t there). The faithful are still out there, they just may not be attending the parish school. I believe the poster who said to pray for vocations is right. As our seminaries begin to send out faithful priests, our schools will flurish under their care. It all takes time.