Additional Responses to Archbishop Dolan

The conversation on the future of Catholic education continues as three more respondents weigh in on Archbishop Dolan's article, "The Catholic Schools We Need."

Patrick J. McCloskey, author of The Street Stops Here, argues that Catholic schools could flourish if more institutions and individuals were dedicated to their success:


An abundance of brilliant leadership and expertise is available among top professionals, academics, CEOs, CFOs and so on in dioceses across the country. If ordinary Catholic families increased parish donations by half (from $300 to $450 a year on average, and still less than Protestants) and these funds were dedicated to education, endangered Catholic schools would not want. Affordable housing could be provided to many teachers, bolstering recruitment and retention, which are crucial to improving academic quality and strengthening mission.

Fr. Joseph O'Keefe of Boston College, meanwhile, argues that public subsidies for Catholic schools are the only way for them to survive:

It is important to emphasize that an equitable plan for school choice, in which people from all strata of society have the same opportunity, is the best way to support Catholic schools.  Can philanthropic efforts, however well meaning, provide the sustained financial foundation required by 21st-century schools, especially those that serve the poor?

Finally, Kristina Chew, a professor at St. Peter's College and mother of a child with autism, writes about what Catholic schools can and cannot do for individuals with special needs:

Catholic school has not been an option for [mys son] Charlie due to the extent of his educational needs. That's not to say Catholic schools may not be a good option for autistic children. Both [my husband] Jim and I teach at institutions of Jesuit higher education in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. We have both been fortunate to have students with Asperger's Syndrome in our classrooms, and thereby to witness how an educational and faith community can provide an accepting and stimulating environment for students whose "difference" can make college life particularly challenging.

For more on Archbishop Dolan's plans for Catholic schools, see this article in today's Times.

Tim Reidy


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ed gleason
8 years 6 months ago
Cardinal Dougherty of Philly built 146 schools... 'a desk for every Catholic child' ,and suggested it was a moral sin not to send your child to Catholic school. This was all done from 1918 thru the depression.w/ no big bucks around then. Must be sad for the present hierarchs to be in charge of the dissolution of the 'system' that worked.
When Catholicism embraced the 'what's for me' suburbs after WWII the hand writing on the wall was already writ.  
8 years 6 months ago
The problem with Catholic schools has been three fold.  They lost their free teachers as fewer and fewer young women entered the convent.  This happened in the mid 60's.  Until then, Philadelphia Catholic Schools were being created in the suburbs by the dozens with most schools having two classes for each grade and easily staffed by young nuns.  But all this started to change in the late 60's when the sudden scarcity of nuns started to hurt schools financially as pastors had to hire lay teachers.
The second thing that has killed Catholic schools also has to do with money and that was all the frills put into public schools which made it difficult for Catholic schools to keep up with out large tuitions.  In our area the average public school cost per student is over $20,000 per year and the average teacher makes a $100k or more when benefits are thrown in (our parish school closed two years ago).
On top of this, most parents lost their faith so there was no necessity to send the kids to Catholic schools.  To give an example, our pastor this Sunday told a story of how he was recently strongly attacked verbally by a couple parishioners who complained that he was making the kids come to Mass on Sunday as part of their CCD education.   They told him point blank that he was being presumptuous for demanding this when there were so many other obligations on the weekends such as soccer games or other things that required their time.
Jim McCrea
8 years 6 months ago
If Catholics want these schools, they have to step up to the plate and support them.

By their fruits so shall you know them.

As things are going now, they look rather fruitless.

Sacrifice?  We don't do no stinkin' sacrifice, particularly for inner city folks.


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