The Catholic Schools Saved by Vouchers


Catholic schools, once a mainstay for the Irish, Italian, and Polish communities in American cities, are struggling. With shrinking numbers of nuns as a source of free labor, and fewer parishioners passing the donation baskets on Sunday and enrolling their kids in parochial schools, many simply cannot afford to keep their doors open. Just last week, the Archdiocese of New York announced the closure of five more schools for financial reasons; that’s on top of dozens that were shutteredin 2011 and 2013.

More here.


7 thoughts on “The Catholic Schools Saved by Vouchers

  1. What happened in Pittsburgh is that they opened a bunch of schools in the suburbs as the parishioners moved out there and then didn’t close the schools in the city (and the working class suburbs) for as long as they could put it off. Some of the schools were doomed no matter what, like running a school for Italians and one for Germans in the same neighborhood (it turns out that you can live with Germans, if you have to). Others waited until they needed money to run the schools that served Catholic students.

    1. Yeah, the geography is very important. The population moves around while the infrastructure doesn’t.

      We don’t have a lot of Catholic schools in our area, but the ones that we do have are in the inner city. The location doesn’t seem to hold them back, but part of that is because commutes are pretty short in the area (20 minutes will get you anywhere) and it’s really the only game in town for people who want to do Catholic schools.

      Speaking of school closures–I’ve seen a number of city public schools close here over the past 10 years. I was just looking it up, and it was actually pretty shocking how many are or have been closed.

  2. Eh. In Ohio, we already send tax dollars to parochial schools: we pay for transportation, textbooks for all subjects except for religion, and special needs evaluations.

    There may be more to add that list but those are the ones I know about. I always find ironic the fact that public funds pay for psychological, academic and other testing and evaluations for students with disabilities since religious schools don’t really serve students with disabilities. At most, they cherry pick a few with very mild issues and leave everyone else to the public schools.

    I remain unconvinced that I need to support any private schools, religious or not, with my tax dollars. I mean, sure, go ahead, start a private school, support a private school, send your kids to a private school, work at a private school. Just do it on your own dime.

    1. I mostly agree, except that as I understand, the special needs evaluations result in the child’s either leaving the religious school, in which case the school is no longer being subsidized, or remaining at the school, in which case the school is serving a student with disabilities. So that criticism seems a bit misplaced.

  3. “I remain unconvinced that I need to support any private schools, religious or not, with my tax dollars. I mean, sure, go ahead, start a private school, support a private school, send your kids to a private school, work at a private school. Just do it on your own dime.”

    I wholeheartedly share the same opinion, and I send my kids to private schools.

  4. Wow this is still true in Ohio? I grew up and went to 12 years of Catholic school and remember wrapping my textbooks in book covers since we had to return them in good condition at the end of the year. (To nuns, good condition means mint condition).

    I did get speech therapy for about 6 months by a speech therapist who was employed by the school district who came to our elementary school once a week. My parents attitude was that if they were going to be taxed for what they thought of as special services they should be able to take advantage of them, and that was the general attitude in that blue collar community. This was not a good era for kids with disabilities. Interestingly we had several boys in our class whose parents had placed them in catholic school because they were “hyperactive ” (label from that era). I speculate that they were looking for some structure as the 70s were a period of change toward less rigidly structured schooling, and the perception of those changes was often negative in our community. Middle class reform of schools in blue collar communities is a whole subject in and of itself.
    In the 70s our school district was fairly well funded since our burb was half residential and half industrial. The public high school was state of the art, with 2 enormous gymnasiums, two swimming pools, auto shop, science labs, auditorium and a planetarium. Sadly today it’s not the case anymore – Google City of Euclid schools.

    1. The industrial funding stream your old district (and my current district) benefited from is rapidly being phased out — that tax was revoked (or whatever the correct term is).

      The transition period includes ever-decreasing state substitute funding over a number of years, and as could be expected, an increase in local school levies.

      It’s a great example of money flowing upwards. Businesses get a cut, the rest of us see no improvement in our lives from this boom to business, instead our personal budgets take a hit because our local taxes go up.

      One of my district’s administrators explained that this is one way Republicans in Columbus are tackling the school funding inequality issue: by making the better funded districts less well funded and therefore closer to the poorly-funded districts in resources. So Euclid schools as the ideal we are all aiming for.

      P.S. Yes, the Seventies were a loosely-goosey era. Our high school was built with lots of open classroom areas. Which were eventually made back into traditional classrooms. You can easily tell what walls were thrown up as correctives.

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