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.