Friday, July 01, 2011

School’s Out, Forever

Yet another sad story of yet another Catholic school closing – it's insanity that our society allows horrific public schools to stay open year after year while allowing (in many, though certainly not all) high-quality Catholic schools, operating on a fraction of the per-pupil spend of public schools, to close:

"We look forward to hearing about the progress they make as they continue their educational journey ... elsewhere."

She made it, barely. The "elsewhere" was the killer, as it has been since January, when Sister Nora was told the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York had decided St. Martin's would close after 86 years. Pleas and plans to save the school were received and rejected. Wednesday was the school's final day.

Most of the 104 students at St. Martin's will be scattered to other Catholic schools. The nine lay teachers on the faculty may not be as lucky — more than 250 teachers are already unemployed throughout the cash-strapped archdiocese, and schools are retrenching.

St. Martin's is among 26 archdiocesan elementary schools closing this month because of the shrinking enrollments and ballooning deficits the Catholic school system has been experiencing for decades. The archdiocese says its closings are the first step in reorganizing and strengthening its remaining schools — even though teachers at St. Martin's and other schools wonder if the shutdowns only foretell the demise of urban parochial education.

In 1961, the archdiocese had 212,781 students in 414 elementary and high schools. This year, including the schools that are closing, there were 79,782 children at 274 schools.

Before the advent of charter schools, these schools helped generations of immigrant children become Americans and professionals. They continued to propel Latino and African-American children into the middle class after the tumult of the 1960s, when drastic changes washed over both the church and urban America. They were also the source of religious vocations.


School's Out, Forever

Published: June 24, 2011

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