Catholic Schools Continue to Close
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is complete madness for our state to allow the closure of so many good schools that, in many cases, offer the only lifelines to poor children. Let’s hope this bill passes:
The children drew close and peppered her with questions: Why is the archdiocese closing the school? Doesn’t it know their parents worked hard? Why couldn’t it come up with the money? One girl, crying, got up and slumped into Justice Sotomayor’s embrace. The justice, her voice steady and reassuring, reminded the children to cherish the good times and move confidently ahead. But later, she, too, revealed her pain.
“The worst thing is, these kids could lose their faith in the adults around them,” she said in an interview inside her old fifth-grade classroom. “Children need to feel secure. This makes it worse. These kids are going to carry this trauma with them for the rest of their lives.”
Justice Sotomayor’s emotions are shared by a generation of accomplished Latino and black professionals and public servants who went from humble roots to successful careers thanks to Catholic schools. But they fear that a springboard that has helped numerous poor and working-class minority students achieve rewarding lives is eroding as Catholic schools close their doors in the face of extraordinary financial challenges and demographic shifts.
Since 2011, the Archdiocese of New York has closed 56 schools, the vast majority of them elementary schools, including 13 in the Bronx. Now 219 schools remain in the education system. Blessed Sacrament is one of 26 schools closing this year throughout the archdiocese, which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and seven counties north of New York City.
According to archdiocesan figures, enrollment in elementary and high schools shrank to 75,875 this year from 95,837 in 2006. While the Latino percentage of total enrollment increased during that period, black elementary school students dropped precipitously, to 17 percent of enrollment from 31 percent.