Catholic schools failing to keep up enrollment

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Catholic officials are worried about declining enrollment at Catholic schools in New Orleans and nationwide, including Our Lady of Divine Providence School in Metairie, La. RNS photo by Brett Duke/The Times-Picayune

Catholic officials are worried about declining enrollment at Catholic schools in New Orleans and nationwide, including Our Lady of Divine Providence School in Metairie, La. RNS photo by Brett Duke/The Times-Picayune

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(RNS) The nation's Catholic schools, facing increasing competition, rising costs and a diminishing core of potential pupils, continue to struggle to keep students and find new ones.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    The Catholic Church has become overtly hostile to Progressive values. They have joined the Christian Coalition and its alliance with the Right Wing Republicans. Liberal Catholics are weary of a Church that doesn’t like them very much. Pope Benedict has practically bought the Inquisition down on the nuns whom we love dearly and who represent what we see as the best side of Catholicism.

  • Ralph

    In some areas, school taxes are so high, that paying twice for education makes private education prohibitive for middle class families. Catholic schools are also facing a family budgetary crunch, in which parents pay higher taxes for everything, while salaries remain stagnant.

  • kay

    I don’t agree with you Daniel regarding Pope Emeritus BXVI. We’ll have to agree to disagree since the school PRICE has nothing to do with your view of the Church teachings. I do agree with Ralph – why pay twice? Your home owners/property tax pays for the schooling and then to fork over another $4k? Not in this economic environment. The best that can be said is Magnet schools that are inside the public school system although there is a special fee for those as they have more projects, more outings, more activities.

    Let’s face it: Public schools k-12 are little more than day time baby sitters at the least. Anything above that level should be considered a tax advantage the state is giving to you. Colleges now have to start their math and english not at the 101 level but at the 095 level. No wonder it takes 5 years to get out of college and that’s expensive.

    Home school your children if at all possible. Honestly! Then send them off to the zoo or some museum for quiet time for yourself if need be.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Kay, there are two issues in your post and I want to keep them separate: Price and disillusionment with the Church.

    Pope Benedict brought the Inquisition to America’s Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious, the group that represents 80% of the nuns in America. Here is the document released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

    It contained a variety of errors of fact and a large dish of innuendo, characteristic of the history of inquiries by that enforcement arm of the Church. Archbishop Sartain and Sister Pat Farrell were both interviewed on Fresh Air in a lengthy format. They both were able to state their positions and my characterization is that the nuns were too far to the political left and that the Archbishop Sartain and the former Pope want the nuns to be more like Supreme Court Justices Thomas, Roberts and Scallia.

    In the “A Nun’s Life” website you can find links to those interviews. This site encourages women to consider a vocation and become nuns. Here’s the link:

    Your feelings and views about this, be what they may, are not universal among Catholics and those who no longer practice the faith. I still love the Church, and women like Sister Pat Farell, Who didn’t love the nuns on the bus? Bishop Sartain and Pope Benidict are on the list.

    Liberal Catholics are being told, that they don’t belong. The term “Growth by pruning” is being used by Rome to describe the mission to get rid of the Liberal Catholics and return to a core of dedicated and orthodox believers. Liberal Catholics who, like me, have advanced Catholic educations, and could handily afford the tuition see that the values we were taught are no longer the values of the Church.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Kay, let’s talk about public schools.

    While you may be correct about too many of our inner city schools. Most public schools in the United States are doing an outstanding job–in spite of the politicization of the curriculum. My local Philadelphia School, Shawmont School, is safe and they still have an outstanding music curriculum. I hated the “No Child Left Behind” teaching to the test destruction that the Federal Government forced upon them, but took my son out not because that school was bad, but because I wanted him an an amazing school and not just a good one.

    In Montgomery County, and the suburban towns of Bucks and Delaware Counties, the Catholic schools underperformed the public schools by a large margin on standardized tests. The same happens to be true of the City of Philadelphia itself, but by a lesser margin. Parents love their schools in most of the districts in the nearby suburbs to where I live. It’s the schools that serve the poor where the problems are and they are not representative of the public education system as a whole.

    The same class divide occurs in Diocesan schools. Wealthy Catholic parishes do not share with poor ones in any significant manner. Passing the plate once a year for other Catholic schools, and raising four or five hundred dollars, is an insult and not worthy of being called a “contribution”. If Catholics really valued their faith, and really valued Catholic Education, they would pay for it with real contributions, not a paltry $5 or $20 bill. Checks starting a $1,000 would be proof they really believed in Catholicism and their children. Yes, there are Catholic families getting by on five figure incomes. I don’t believe that they represent the majority of Catholics who went to Catholic Universities and Colleges. Lots of Catholics have money enough to buy a couple of $40,000 vehicles and live in half-million dollar homes. Not too many of them make real donations to Catholic Elementary Education. Why not?

    My son is in a Quaker School. There are practicing Catholics with children in his school. When I hear middle class people whine about $4,000 tuition bills I hear a lack of commitment. If you believe in the value of your child and that child’s education, put your money where your mouth is. I pay about $14,000 a year and it’s worth every penny. There are nearby Catholic Schools, run by religious orders, where that’s a very low tuition. They are not having a hard time finding students…yet. The Church is pushing these schools, Catholic Hospitals, Universities and other institutions into the culture war that Lee Atwater, and others, started on purpose in order to gain political power. Those of us on the other side of that divide are being presented with a starker choice. Liberal Catholics are being “pruned”, and so are poor Catholics. The Church and its faithful are saying to the liberals and the poor they care about , “We are not here for you”. They are leaving their poor branches lying on the ground and they are hacking off their liberal ones with a vengeance.

    Pope Francis, like Benedict, talks the talk about caring for the poor. Let’s see if they continue their alignment with the Republicans, and reactionaries worldwide, who despise them.

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