Skip to comments.Catholic Schools in Some Cities Show Signs of Life, Helped by Voucher Program
Posted on 06/10/2012 7:00:39 AM PDT by marshmallow
EAST CHICAGO, Ind. It had been years since Principal Kathleen Lowry pulled extra desks from the dusty attic of St. Stanislaus, the only Catholic school left in this port city. But after Indiana began offering parents vouchers in the spring of 2011 to pay for private tuition, she had to bring down 30 spare desks and hire three teachers' aides.
Thanks to vouchers, St. Stanislaus, which was $140,000 in debt to the Catholic Diocese of Gary at the end of 2010, picked up 72 new students, boosting enrollment by 38%.
"God has been good to us," says Ms. Lowry. "Growth is a good problem to have."
For the first time in decades, Catholic education is showing signs of life. Driven by expanding voucher programs, outreach to Hispanic Catholics and donations by business leaders, Catholic schools in several major cities are swinging back from closures and declining enrollment.
Chicago Catholic elementary schools saw enrollment increase 3% this year and 1% last yearthe first two-year growth spurt since 1965. Greater Boston elementary schools had a 2% bumpthe first in 20 years. And Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Bridgeport, Conn., also added desks for the first time in years.
Nationally since 2000, U.S. Catholic school enrollment has plummeted by 23%, and 1,900 schools have closed, driven by demographic changes and fallout from priest sexual-abuse scandals. Newark, N.J., and Philadelphia have announced plans to close even more Catholic schools.
But lately, Catholic schools have slowed their overall rate of decline. This year, two million children attended Catholic schools, down 1.7% from last, but less than the average yearly decline of 2.5% over the past decade.
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Which illustrates why the anti-Christian left will fight voucher programs tooth and nail...
No offense intended. Just couldn't resist after a story about a Catholic school in the Chicago area being saved.
Some people in the pro-Christian and pro-Catholic right will fight vouchers, too: not because we’re against Catholic schools, but because government control follows government funding as the night the day.
A better solution (if it could be done) is tax credits, it’s a less direct tie to the govt. -— even better, phasing out public schools... paradoxically, that’s especially good for the poor, becausepublic schools are particularly bad for the poor. If the tax brdern is dramaticalle lessened, and parents have more spendable money to invest in education, they get more “invested” in every way. And this is what counts: parental commitment. That is the absolute key to students’ success,, in school and in life.
It's problematic either way.
With vouchers, you more readily invite government intrusion than with tax credits.
But to truly provide even poor kids with alternatives, tax credits would need to be large and refundable - in the Washington, DC area (suburbs included), at least on the order of $6K - $8K per year for the little ones and $15K per year for the high school kids. Per kid. Per year.
At first blush, I'm good with that. The money is getting spent anyway. I'd rather a kid have a choice of a decent private school or a public magnet school, or, if it's worthy of support, the neighborhood public school.
But on second thought, how many women already part of the welfare culture are going to load up on kiddies, get those tax credits, and either shop for bargain-basement schools (and they'll pop up) or claim to homeschool?
You got 8 kids of school age, two in high school, six in grade school? That's $94K per year in tax credits.
But if they're not refundable tax credits - what do families do who aren't trying to game the system, and who don't pay many tens of thousands per year in state (or even state and federal and payroll) taxes?
Perhaps the cost of education might fall. Or not. Or not enough.
You could just say - look, we'll give everyone $5K per kid per year, and after that, you can send ‘em to public school (and lose the tax credit? - should it follow the child to the public school? - should the public schools then charge tuition? if not, how does this help private schools?) or you can add to what you get from the tax credit and send your kid to private school.
In which case, the tax credit mostly becomes an added advantage for the well-to-do and some parts of the middle class. The kids who are in the worst schools will still be in the worst schools.
As for getting rid of public schools, it then becomes an issue of how does one fund one’s children through 13 years of school? Most folks couldn't pay what it would cost for their kids to go to school for the 13 years when their kids are in school. It's only that in a sense they keep paying for their kids (along with folks who never have kids) long after their kids finish school that the system works by continuing to pay the taxes that go to the public schools.
The thing is, education is expensive. Even education at the local parochial school. Not as bad as the public schools, but still a hefty price tag. The Catholic elementary schools near me typically run around $6,000 per year and up. The Catholic high schools start around $13,000 and move up quickly from there. Where my sons go (/went - the older one just graduated) to Catholic high school, this year, it's over $14K per year.
Now, this compares very, very favorably to the public schools, which in jurisdictions around here can cost an average of $15K, $20K, nearly $30K per year (yes, Washington, DC runs around $28K per year per student).
But it's still expensive.
In concept, it seems that it would be better to give the money for education directly to families, as most families would act responsibly and provide for the education of their children. And that education, in most cases would be far better and far cheaper. But a straight, refundable tax credit program would attract high levels of abuse and fraud.
I don't know how to square the circle.
They're the best. IMHO.