Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Future of Catholic Education - Dying a Slow Death

In the June 4th edition of My Catholic Standard, an article appeared written not by the staff of the Standard but was provided by the Archdiocese of Washington DC. That in and of itself is noteworthy.

The article, like many others, explains why there is a reduction in the number of Catholic schools. However, what really “gets me” is the section entitled “Preserving School Choice.”

As usual, the Archdiocese is willing to accept the crumbs and scraps from the same pro-abortion, pro-homosexual politicians, who they suck up to for funding for a senior citizen center, or another social program.

When will Archbishop Wuerl, the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) wake up and smell the coffee that these politicians do not give a dead rat’s rear end about Catholic education. And the Church continues to take it on the chin year after year.

The DC Opportunity Scholarship is not going to be renewed. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the DC Representative in the House of Representatives, has said that the Democratic Congress intends to kill it. The Washington Compost has done a series of articles on what a waste of money it is.

If the Archdiocese had the intestinal fortitude, it would remind every parent of every child who ever received an Opportunity Scholarship that Eleanor Holmes Norton has sentenced every child to a sub-standard education. But will they do it. Nope.

They continue to push the BOAST program and how it has worked in Pennsylvania. I have heard that for the last 5 years from Dick Dowling and the MCC. And have they passed it. Nope. And does the MCC let Catholic parents know who supported it and who did not. Nope.

The Archdiocese continues to attempt to put a positive spin on a failure after failure. The only way that they will make any inroads with politicians is to target them for defeat. Remind Catholic parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc., of those who support Catholic education and those who oppose it, like Richard Madaleno. It is time to take the gloves off.

But to be honest, they will not. If the Archbishop is not willing to throw VOTF out of parishes, deny communion to pro-abortion politicians, remains silent on the Montgomery County Transgender Bill, and a host of other issues, he will not do a thing on this.

Archbishop Wuerl is slowly allowing Catholic education to die in this diocese. Those children will grow up to be Catholics (hopefully) but most will not send their children to Catholic school. Why? Because they will not see the value of it. And the cycle will begin over and over until there are no Catholic schools left.


Ponderant Scribe said...

"Archbishop Wuerl is slowly allowing Catholic education to die in this diocese"

Not exactly. The problems most often cited are inner (DC) city related. But, less than 25% of the archdiocesan student population is in DC. Most are in the Maryland counties and doing well enough. The AB can only provide a Catholic education if the community is there to sustain it. Reallocation of public funding for Catholic (or any religious) education is not sound public policy. It's a Constitutional thing...

But, there is no excuse for letting a Catholic school close for lack of money IF THEY HAVE A COMMITTED STUDENT BODY with the critical mass (no pun intended) to support a rigorous curiculum. The diocese SHOULD step up and help suppport it. But clearly, it's also about enrollment, bodies, students in chairs. They're not there and they're not coming back. And no command from AB Wuerl or anybody else is going to change that fundamental fact.

Anonymous said...

I totaaly disagree with ponderant scribe. He needs to get his facts straight. Since Archbishop Wuerl arrival in Washington only 2 years ago (June '06) -15 Catholic schools have been closed by him. That is not a gradual closing. That is formulated statedgy by the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese hits fast and hard before anyone has adequate time to formulate a salvage position. The enrollemt was not a meager as he would like you to think. The enrollemt in the majority of the 7 schools recently closed reflects similiar enrollment in the Archbishop's beloved "county schools". If the enrollment was so low in these Catholic schools, why would the Joe Bruno Charter group be so anxious to take these schools over?The numbers presented and formulated by the former Archdiocene CFO. Mike Kelly (currently under SEC indictment for fradulant financial practices while at AOL)are debatable. But no one looks behind the Archdiocese numbers. Accountability is not a place the Archdiocese likes to go to.


I agree with you on this.

The scribe only has part of this correct.

Why seven? Why not 3 or 4? if you closed only three or four, would that have been enought to cover costs? I bet it would have, since the teacher, classroom, principal, among others, are fixed costs and therefore, whether you have 20 students or 25 students in a class, the cost is the same. (Yes, I know energy costs are a variable...)

If you look at some of my earlier postings on this, you will see that I commented on the fact that the Archdiocese did not give the community enough time to come up with a solution.

The Archbishop is a consolidator. He did it in Pitt, and he is doing it here.

My sources in Hyattsville tell me that southern MD is next.

Ponderant Scribe said...

I really don't HAVE many facts to back this up. Nobody does (except the population distribution). As you note, the Archdiocese is not a model of transparent management and accountability. But, my logic is this: the AB would not close a truly viable school. Why would he? However, I can imagine that the Archdiocese probably defines viablity with a very narrow (and not publicly documented) standard.

Remember, I'm suggesting that it's BOTH enrollment AND leadership that is required for a viable school. The most successful schools (true for both public AND parochial) have strong in-school and locally based community leadership and commitment. Unlike public shools, though, Catholic schools are not compulsory, they're a choice. And I still maintain that if the closed (or closing) schools had that fundamental ingredient, they would remain open.