Monday, September 15, 2008

A Fresh Look or Preparing You for the Worse

This week, Archbishop Wuerl’s column (in the Catholic Standard) was entitled: A Fresh Look At Catholic Education.

Since most people probably do not read it, let me tell you what stuck out at me (or struck me, as the case may be):

In other words, Catholic schools will not simply expand automatically, certainly at the elementary level, following the traditional model of the stand-alone parish school. While this was once the very backbone of Catholic education across the country, circumstances have changed. Today the future of Catholic schools depends upon all of the Catholic faithful embracing the responsibility for Catholic schools across the archdiocese.

I will publish a pastoral letter entitled Catholic Education: Looking to the Future With Confidence, calling on all of us to look at our religious education programs with a particular emphasis on our Catholic schools. What we will be asked to do is envision how we can find new and better ways to sustain our schools and help them flourish.

The bishops' statement will highlight the importance of Catholic schools to the entire community and publicize specific initiatives that have been or will be implemented to sustain Catholic schools. It also provides information on how legislative advocacy plays a role in these efforts.

When we look at the education landscape today, we might be tempted to think of A Tale of Two Cities with its poignant declaration that it was the best of times and the worst of times. Catholic schools are facing today an enormous challenge. For some this can be seen as the worst of times. However, when we look at all of the possibilities open to us this could be a year that marks a turning point for Catholic education here in our part of the nation. If we are able as an archdiocese to come together with new energy around a collaborative effort to sustain our schools and if, at the same time, our voice is heard in the forums where public policy is molded, we can witness a rebirth of Catholic schools. It is worth the effort because we know our schools work.

What is he saying?

Basically, that the traditional model of an elementary school tied with a parish is going to go away, for the most part. No more will many parishes take pride in their local elementary school. No more will pastors have to worry about funding the local Catholic school. (A huge worry.)

The Archbishop is basically setting the groundwork for the closing and consolidation of schools in this Archdiocese. Note that he talks about one of the “model” programs for this was in Pittsburgh. And we know what he did there: close and consolidate.

He will close some schools down. He will consolidate others. Some schools will be leased out to Charter Schools or other entities.

You will be asked not to think or support the local school, which you, your children, and your grandchildren may have attended. Nope. That will all go away. He will ask you to think about the larger Catholic educational system. He will ask, don’t donate to the local school. Give to the larger school initiative.

This is the slow death of the pride that many take in their local schools.

For those who think that the Catholic elementary school system is on life support, you will probably want to start making the funeral arrangements.

I pray that I am wrong about this.


Anonymous said...

The time of the traditional catholic school has come and gone. These schools once were able to rely on essentially free labor - religious sisters.

Furthermore, fewer Catholics are using the schools since they have lost their way regarding the faith.

I say close most of them and direct the money to Catholics and only Catholics by having strong youth groups.

By the way - if you want evidence of the failing of the catholic schools - think Pelosi and Biden.

Close most the schools and just keep a handful for Catholics who are actually Catholic!

I, for one, am glad to see this system that fails to teach the faith and costs a fortune come to an end.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Archdiocese of Washington and went to Catholic a school. It was a total waste of money. Few of my siblings are still catholic (they hated the schools) and I would never send my kids to these schools. You can get just as good an education in public or Christian schools.

I think the person who writes this blog is likely a school teacher who is about to lose her job.


To Anon #1:

Teaching the faith to children is really the responsibility of six groups, as I see it.
(1) The Catholic School.
(2) The local Parish.
(3) the Parents -- this is the most important of the groups!
(4) other Catholics
(5) The individual.
(6) The Hierarchy

In my humble view, the reason we get soooo many Pelosi's and Biden's that that there is a (1) failure on the part of the parents to ensure that they are living a good Catholic life, the individual who do not grow in their faith and the hierarchy who refuse to take a stand on important issues of faith.


To Anon #2:

Sorry to hear that your experience was bad. Mine was good. Perfect nope, but very good.

Regarding a public school education. For the money we spend per child (almost $11,000 per year per child), public schools had better be excellent but they are not. Look at DC. Look at a number on MoCo.

Mr Flapatap said...

My three school-aged kids go to a Catholic school and the fourth one will be joining them next year. This school is part of a parish in Rockville and is also affiliated to mine. What makes me wonder is that a couple of years ago my parish received permission to start its own elementary school. Many of us are wondering about the reason behind the new school when so many others are closing.

Anonymous said...

The social and religious consequences of Archbishp Wuerl's plan to "consolidate" our Catholic Grade schools is enormous and life altering. It is important to remeber that many of the heirarchy of our current church were trained during the rockin' 60's and 70's. The dismantleing of existing social structures was considered the goal whether needed or not. Wuerl's need to close/consolidate our schools has a very dark undertones. If there was a legitimate reason to close/consolidate our parish schools then Wuerl would not need to use double talk and subtrafuge.
Honesty would shine through. This not the case. Once again Wuerl's contempt for his archdiocese is apparent.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a truly rigorous academic education and education in the faith is mutually exclusive, especially at the compulsory grade levels. The Church leadership is profoundly out of step with progressive thought, especially in the science, technology and social sciences arenas. That's a problem if you are trying to prepare a young person for a very complex and competitive world.

Dymphna said...

I went to St. Augustine and Immaculate Conception Academy.It was a life saving experience considering the neighborhood I came from. ICA was closed by Cardinal Hickey. Archbishop Wuerl tried to close St. Augustine but the parish fought back and is keeping it open themselves. I think there's going to be a demographic shift again. You can't ask people to send their kids to DC public schools and if their going to send their kids to a private Baptist or Lutheran school they might as well be Baptist or Lutheran. The collaspe continues. It's going to be worse before it gets better.

Anonymous1, most youth groups are worthless. Money would be better spent teaching adults the faith.


To Anon at 9:15am on the 19th.

I think that your comment about progressive thought is really what has decreased the effectiveness of Catholic education.

Maybe it is time for you to consider that you may be out of step with the Catholic Church and not the Church with you and society.