Closing Catholic schools

Closing Catholic schools

The Boston Globe did a story on Catholic schools in the archdiocese and how so many inner-city schools are closing while suburban ones are flourishing. The whole tone of the piece hinted at some kind of racism by the Church because the inner-city schools have a mainly minority student population. Just another smear of the Church.

In reality, the most of the students in inner-city parochial schools are non-Catholic and poor, meaning they can’t pay their tuition. Now the Archdiocese, because of the dramatic decline in giving to the Cardinal’s Appeal, can no longer subsidize those schools. A point that the article glosses over is that the schools are not controlled by the archdiocese, but by the local parishes they belong to. And if the parishes can’t continue to operate the schools at a loss and the archdiocese can’t give them the money it used to, then the pastors have hard choices to make. Plus the fact that enrollment has fallen at many of these schools—probably because the parents can’t afford tuition and the scholarship money isn’t there any more.

Meanwhile, the suburban parochial schools are generally filled with Catholic students whose parents—while not usually wealthy—can scrimp and save enough to pay the tuitions. In other words, most of those schools are self-supporting.

Here’s a solution that the Globe would choke on: school choice. If poor parents received vouchers then they could continue to send their kids to the parochial schools, the downturn in donations to the archdiocese wouldn’t affect the schools so much, and inner-city schools could stay open. Of course, the teachers’ unions would rather see the poor parochial students wandering the streets rather than see taxpayers’ money being used in such a way.

Speaking of teachers’ unions, we were regaled with stories in the press a month ago when a local Catholic all-girls school announced it had to close and how awful it was that the Church was closing it. (Nevermind that it’s a parish school and the parish couldn’t afford it anymore.) But what was really behind the closing?

    Still, Catholic school officials tried to broker a merger between Monsignor Ryan Memorial High School, an all-girls school in Dorchester, and St. Clare High School, an all-girls central high school in Roslindale. Both had low enrollments last year. School officials agreed on certain things—for example, that St. Clare’s building was far superior. One sticking point: St. Clare’s teachers were unionized and Monsignor Ryan’s were not, making it difficult to combine the two staffs, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Do you mean the teachers’ union was a major reason that these poor girls have no place to go next year? I’m shocked.

I was puzzled by one thing I read in the article, about St. Joseph’s grammar school in Roxbury where the majority of the students are black and non-Catholic.

    Sixty percent are from single-parent homes. The morning schoolwide meeting at which students and staff recite the Lord’s prayer is called a ‘‘harambee’’—Swahili for ‘‘gathering together’’—and the children chant the black national anthem. Teachers emphasize African-American history and culture.

What is the “black national anthem” and why are they chanting that, apparently instead of the American National Anthem? Looks like political correctness isn’t just for public schools.