Monday, February 02, 2009

Enrollment in faith-based schools down nearly 20 percent

By Leah Fabel

Urban faith-based schooling options have declined by nearly 20 percent in 20 years, according to a recent report by the White House Domestic Policy Council, and officials warn that poor and minority students are most adversely affected.

Nationwide, the number of students enrolled in urban religious schools declined by 18 percent to about 1.8 million between 1989 and 2006, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the Department of Education. [WTOP]

1 comment:

im1ru2 said...

This is Part I

While much in the story presented is compelling and speaks to the history and ills of what troubles the financial woes of today’s Catholic elementary and middle schools, I am not convinced and rather believe that there are other more underlying factors contributing to the closing of many of our lower grade(s) Catholic schools.

Particularly here in the Washington D.C. area, where the now infamous consortium idea has at least financially failed to the tune of $70 million dollars - now at the cost to many outlying more rural less populated elementary and middle schools, struggling to stay open with dwindling enrollment and no chance of financial support in today’s economy, both because of the national and world climate and the consortium boondoggle cost - these less populated rural areas will not get even a one, two or three year effort to stay open with negative cash flow, while the consortium was granted 10 years and the opportunity to float a $70 million dollar deficit, costing all members of the diocese.

Not a very fair or balanced system, especially when you consider that the DC students have the added benefit of receiving vouchers on top of the significant increase of diocese involvement with financial support.

The rural school families/children have fewer schools, more miles to travel and less modes of transportation (public transportation is not within their means ordinarily for the most part, while metro and buses are available to most within the DC city proper).

So when it is said that the inner city children are the most affected, I question that assertion as to the credibility and label it more a Politically Correct statement than Statement of Fact. In the rural Catholic classrooms kids have been, are and will be much more affected than all children anywhere.

And before anyone starts to throw the “they all drive Rolls Royce’s” around, be very careful of that statement. More than 40% of the elementary children in Charles County attending Catholic schools applied for some type of financial assistance for the 2007/8 school year.

Lastly, but certainly not least by any means is the rate of Catholic children attending these schools. Within the Consortium schools in the DC program, the rate of Catholic children was something like (less than 60 %?). And, that means that most of the families don't attend the local parish for Sunday Church - which means money into the collection box! So, we educate the children, fine, but make no effort to "convert" and bring the child AND the family into the fold of the Church - we should, it is our duty, and that is okay, by the way, we should always be on the path to searching for new Catholic souls - which would also translate into Sunday services (hopefully) and more. As with any Church the offertory basket is one of the biggest “bread winners” of the parish which helps support its named school.

However, when over 60% of the school parish either don’t attend Church or attend other Churches (and presumably contribute there) you are already operating at a 60% deficit. A fairly large hole indeed from any business onset.

There is just so much more we are missing here. The family is missing from the equation; the schools are no longer "Catholic" because the numbers (enrollment) is down so much that we simply want to fill seats, and now it is all just about consolidation, selling off property and the bottom line.

Russell Shaw wrote an article (in the Washington Catholic Herald) about two years ago - it was called something like "Did you notice that silence". It was about the rate of tuition in Catholic schools going up dramatically all across the nation, inappropriately and he predicted an adverse affect on enrollment. Turns out he was correct.

When you say, "Saving the Catholic Schools" the word "Catholic" is really blurred.

Get ready to build more trailers (portable classrooms).