Last month, the diocese Of memphis Announced Its operation will stop Jubilee Catholic School, A network serving more than 1,400 underprivileged students in the city. Jubilee had become financially unstable. The diocese did not have the money to keep the schools, and the low-income families they served could not pay the tuition needed to cover this gap.
Although many were harmed, those who followed urban Catholic schooling mostly became inspired by such stories. Inner-city Catholic schools have been closed for decades, a result of a combination of challenges including changing urban demographics; Lesser priests, brothers and nuns; Competition from charter schools; even more.
But the news of Jubilee’s death was particularly poignant. this was not supposed to happen.
A decade ago, President George W. Bush Called White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools, a conference created to focus on the continued loss of non-republic schools in cities. A later White House Report good It will expand that in the first six years, “there has been a net loss of 1,162 schools and 424,976 students in the area of faith-based urban schools.”
These schools gave families options and were often in every corner of their neighborhood. Quite a body of The research Was got to know Catholic schools in particular had an unusual ability to help high-needs children. The slow bleeding of this area of schools was a loss to families, communities and, therefore, the nation.
In his speech, President Bush noted several promising stories, showing that the right mix of policies, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship can help preserve faith-based urban education.
Jubilee was one of these examples.
The President welcomed the donors who contributed $ 15 million to launch and support the network. He noted its publicity, not just religious, service, indication That “81 percent of these children are not Catholic; about 96 percent live at or below the poverty level.”
A decade, but Fairy tale – A set of Memphis schools closed for decades, revived, closed again – reads more like a second act in a protracted tragedy. according to this Data compiled By the National Catholic Educational Association, half of the nation’s Catholic schools closed since 1960 (12,893 down 6,429). Only 508 inner-city primary Catholic schools remain. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that 2005–6 Through this 2015–6, Faith-based schools in cities lost 115,000 students in enrollment, with a decrease in the number of city-based Catholic, Orthodox Christian and other schools allied to a particular faith (although there was an increase in the number of “unaffected” religious schools ) Cities).
We must remember that such long-time schools are part of the history of their communities. Have existed for many generations; Something for over a century. They pass on culture and values. If they disappear, the diversity of our K-12 system decreases, and families lose valuable options. An important situation study Found that the closure of urban Catholic schools for a long time actually results in a loss in terms of many social factors, their surroundings.
One response is that the incident, no matter how painful, is simply a matter of the market: families are choosing other schools. However, advocates say the “market” is uneven. In district-run public schools, students are assigned to them and receive government funds. Charter schools also receive public dollars. Urban Catholic schools must rely on tuition and donations. When low-income families make a variety of choices, fee-paying schools are left out.
Private-school-choice programs, such as vouchers and tax-credit scholarship programs that provide financial aid that enable some families to afford a non-republic school, have not yet been adopted on a scale so that they Stop the closing tide. While there is not a conclusive body of research into how these programs affect the supply of private-school options, there is some evidence that is of the right type The programs right Conditions might help. For example, Michael McAssen has written On this website that funding-related strategies, teachers’ outreach and information for families can help existing private schools increase enrollment and promote the creation of new schools.
Light is on the horizon. After Jubilee’s story broke, two of the most energetic leaders of Catholic education, Kathleen Porter-Maggie And Stephanie Saroki de Garcia, Independently wrote about the implications of the news. Although they came to different conclusions about giving advice place Catholic school with Charter, Porter-Meggie and Saroki de Garcia share an important point: both are lead Catholic-school organizations that were not present at the time of President Bush’s action.
They lead novel, entrepreneurial, non-profit school networks that exist outside the traditional Catholic school structure. Their organization (Partnership school And Seton Education Partners), And others like Christo re And this University of Ace Academies of Notre Dame, Colloquially known as Private school management organization. These networks vary, but their similarity is important: they are experimenting with key elements of school operations (eg management, governance, funding) to find ways to run high-performing, financially sustainable schools. These efforts are being promoted by a range of donors, including Drexel fund, An “enterprise philanthropy” successful faith-based and committed to raising other private schools.
Such innovations are encouraging. But advocates of faith-based schooling and urban educational options must keep a clear eye. George W. Bush was not the first president to address this problem. In 1970, President Richard Nixon created a “Panel on Nonpublic Education” to study the newly recognized threat facing these schools. Its 1972 report released a stark Warning: “The next few years are important for the future of pluralism in education. Whatever must be done must be done with immediate prudence.” The post-summit report released by the Bush administration cited that language and concluded, “Now, nearly four decades later, faith-based urban schools are increasing at a rapid rate and, with the closing, of nationality The call is as resonant as ever. “
Even after a decade, that risk remains.