Skip to comments.The Catholic-School Legacy : Will they still have the chance to educate leaders like Biden and Ryan?
Posted on 10/11/2012 6:59:22 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Tonights debate will be an historic occasion, with two Roman Catholic candidates for national office squaring off against each other for the first time. The fact that this development has gone mostly unnoticed is a sign of just how far America and Catholics have come since John F. Kennedy broke the religion barrier 52 years ago.
But its not just Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan who have ascended to the heights of our political system. Six of our Supreme Court justices are Catholic (the other three are Jewish); both Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are Catholic, too.
How to explain this sudden Catholic prominence in our political and legal systems? Consider one more fact: Almost all of these officials, including Biden and Ryan, attended Catholic schools for at least part of their youth.
As scholars of education have long known, Catholic schools are national treasures highly effective at turning out academically prepared youngsters. But they clearly excel at producing effective leaders, too.
Uncovering the reasons isnt rocket science: As the revered sociologist James Coleman found decades ago, these institutions possess high levels of social capital and boast strong school cultures. Expectations for students are uniformly high; character development isnt treated as an afterthought; clear guidelines for good behavior and mutual respect are communicated and enforced.
But heres the tragedy: The Catholic schools that produced so many members of our current leadership corps are rapidly going away. The number of Catholic schools reached its peak of 13,000 in 1960; since then, more than 5,000 of them have been closed. Over the same period, enrollment has plummeted by more than half, from 5.2 million to 2.3 million.
The causes for the decline are myriad. It started with rising staff costs as schools replaced nuns with lay teachers. Then many Catholics moved from urban centers to the suburbs, leaving diminished parishes (and parish schools) behind. The clergy sex-abuse scandal and its financial fallout served as the knockout blow. And yes, many Catholic students have migrated to (free) charter schools, as a recent Cato Institute study found.
Some archdioceses are starting to address the decline, occasionally with success. Philadelphia recently announced a plan to outsource the governance of many of its schools to an independent foundation run by business leaders. Chicago Catholic schools, aided by an aggressive fundraising push, are experiencing something of a resurgence. But in most communities, the disappearance of these vital institutions has been met with nothing but hand-wringing and nostalgia.
Stemming the decline is going to take leadership and its clear that this is not going to come from the Obama administration. The president has opposed one of the few federal social programs that have shown evidence of effectiveness the voucher initiative in Washington, D.C., which allows 2,000 desperately poor children to attend private schools, mostly Catholic. And Obamas education secretary, Arne Duncan, has done everything he can to block Catholic schools from applying for federal innovation grants.
Mitt Romney presents a clear alternative. As he said in last weeks debate, he would allow federal dollars to follow the child and let the parent . . . decide where to send their student. While this wouldnt immediately help Catholic schools everywhere, in states that already have serious school-voucher programs in place (like Mitch Danielss Indiana, John Kasichs Ohio, and Bobby Jindals Louisiana), it could go a long way.
Catholic schools have a proud history of producing leaders, such as the two men who will be debating tonight in Danville, Ky. But if Catholic educations long decline continues, Biden and Ryan will be among the last Catholic-school alumni to achieve national prominence.
Michael J. Petrilli is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which published Who Will Save Americas Urban Catholic Schools?
What a stark difference in the ideologies of two Catholics - one upholds the Traditional teachings of the church, the other embraces abortion, homosexual marriage, and secularism.
I'm a big fan of Catholic Schools, but we need to accept that we failed with Biden.
Excreting turds like pelosi, biden, and sotomayor is nothing to be proud of.
Ryan, Scalia, Thomas, Jindal, McDonnell and the like are a different matter entirely.
There are always a few rotten apples in every basket.
Sadly what is left out of this story is the grip that liberals within the Church have on the schools. I send my five kids to a private nondenominational Christian school which is politically conservative, we teach them apologetics at home and send them to catechism through our parish.
I shall leave others to judge its value.
We need to level the field by eliminating good schools (except of course for the elites).
20 for me.
Exactly.: This is not two catholics up against eah other, This is one Catholic and one excommunicate.
The Church may not recognise Biden as excommunicate, but he damned sure is. The Bishops are still trying to play the political game so they allow these people who excommunicated themselves to use the Church. It should be stopped.
Playing politics and serving God should not get intertwined as it has.
Congratulations. One can, indeed, progress from kindergarten to Ph.D. within the Catholic schools in these United States, and receive a superb education doing so.
I wandered off into the pagan schools after 16 years and a BS.
As a Protestant Christian American I’m not all that comfortable with people of a very different religious experience ruling over me.
For example a recent case of a Protestant denomination (the Episcopal Church—claiming Roman Catholic-like powers over its congregations)—seizing properties from congregations, was appealed to—and ignored by—the USSC:
“Six of our Supreme Court justices are Catholic (the other three are Jewish)”
There is some speculation that with no Protestants at all on the high Court, and no first-hand understanding of Protestant belief & experience—it can be as disadvantageous to Protestants as no Justices who were Roman Catholic or Jewish was, in days past, to those religious groups.
Short answer, no.
They are at this very moment going belly-up even faster than solar panel companies.
Their sole hope would be for the Pubbies to take all that funding away from the Dept. of Education and give it back to parents in a voucher system. But they have shown absolutely no signs that they have the stones for that.
There is no reason for the Church to be “proud” of producing baby-killing collectivists like Pelosi and Biden—apostate Catholics who have been instructed by many bishops not to receive Communion in their dioceses.