Hat Tip: A reader of this blog who is free to self-identify
Please excuse any mistakes or unclear writing. I threw this together between today's many tasks.
The NY Times published an article "For Catholic Schools, Crisis and Catharsis" last week regarding the enrollment and financial issues Catholic schools are facing.
The article identifies the following issues with the way Catholic schools are/have been run which has brought the schools to their present day crisis:
- Shortage of inexpensive labor. Schools used to be run by priests/nuns supported by the church. Today's lay staff receives compensation and pension benefits.
- Relaxation of religious obligations which used to include sending children to church run schools to be a member in good standing.
- A change in demographics from well compensated parishioners to pews filled with the working poor.
- Rising tuition .
- Parents accuse schools of being slow to react to societal change and unwilling to admit problems.
- Priests are not well qualified to run schools (Note this quote: "There is not a single seminary in the United States offering courses in finance, marketing, business management or long-term planning,” said Richard J. Burke, president of Catholic School Management,).
While our schools are growing, I see some of the issues hurting Catholic schools to be very similar. This is the money quote in the article: "It was taken for granted for a long time that Catholic schools would always be there,” said Dr. Karen M. Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, a lobbying group. “People are beginning to realize that this is a false assumption.”Basically the Catholic Church enjoyed its success and stagnated its development believing that of course they would always be around. But, competition developed in the form of charter schools. Parents struggled to pay already low tuition, sometimes as low as a few thousand a year. And, now there is a realization that business as usual isn't going to cut it.
Different locales are trying different solutions. It should be interesting to see how some of these solutions fare in the long run. I don't know what ideas if any could be borrowed successfully. But, I'm not really sure that the community as a whole is really ready for change anyways.