"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Catholic schools are not workable...

...In their current form. Imo.

From Jimmy Akin:
But the cause [for Catholic schools needing to be closed] that Archbishop Chaput names in the interview is certainly a plausible one: the retreat of women and men religious from the Catholic education scene and the consequent effect on the faculty. Women and men religious, living communally and being under vows of poverty and being able to solicit donations for their order and even subsidizing Catholic schools directly, were able to operate for substantially less money than a faculty composed of lay people supporting families and trying to maintain a place in the middle class (i.e., avoid poverty). The exodus of religious from faculty and the consequent influx of ordinary lay people is certainly going to affect how much it costs to educate a student, and as tuition rises it can lead to a decrease in the number of students: a vicious cycle.
I don’t know how the finances of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are structured or how specifically the schools might be affected by legal settlements, but Archbishop Chaput is certainly right that the change in the composition of the school workforce is going to impact the economics of the situation in a significant way.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/archbishop-chaput-answers-questions-about-his-stunning-letter/#ixzz1gQ1kOM4H
Archbishop Chaput is spot on. This is so sad, because educating our children is the most important thing in the world. And by "educating" I don't just mean preparing them to be good American consumers. I mean preparing  them to serve God- no small task. And by "most important thing in the world", I mean exactly that.

The Catholic grade school near my town just recently was disbanded as well. By chance I met a young lady at my Church that had taught there. I felt bad for her. Her heart was in the right place, but with people like her as teachers, the situation will never be resolved. It's not her fault that she will probably get married and have a family and require a bigger paycheck, that's great. But that means higher tuition, and that is not just "not great", it is not do-able. Let's do the math together.

Lets take what is probably a typical Catholic family of 8 people with a single income of $45,000. Things are tight but possible on that income. Lets say they desire to send their 6 kids to the local Catholic school. Forget for a moment what the school wants to charge those parents and lets think of the actual cost of educating their kids. I checked out 2 different schools earlier this year and pricing differed, but lets give a low number of *$4000 per kid. Honestly, that seems really low, right? For a 20 kid classroom that would add up to $80,000 to spread out to the teacher, admin, supplies, and facilities. Tight budget.
So like I said, ignore what they charge the parent. Perhaps the parent gets grants and ends up only paying $2000 out of pocket for the whole crew, whatever. The point is, someone is paying. Whether in that parish or in the whole diocese. And for 6 kids at $4,000 a piece, that $24,000 is no small amount. One thing is for certain though, most parents simply can't pay that, and should not be expected to. Paying 24 grand out of a 45 grand a year salary?! Yeah right! That is not to mention if more kids come along. It is not at all impossible for a healthy family to have 8 or 9 kids in grades 2 through 12 at the same time. At that point, are only wealthy people allowed to have their kids in school? (keep in mind that I am not even considering public school an option, as that would be hatred of you children to send them there. A good Catholic would not do it unless forced to)
If a family with 8 in school cant come up with the $32,000 for their kids school that year does the parish pay it? The Archdiocese? Is it reasonable to expect them to? I don't think so.

I find it ironic that of the two schools I looked into sending my oldest daughter to, the close, rural one had to close it's doors by order of the archdiocese, and the really good, wealthy city one (many wealthy parents) was full! Either way I would have been out of luck this year. What sort of impression does this leave on the converts who has been homeshooling for 3 years? The Catholic school system is utterly broken. Thankfully we are very comfortable home schooling. But what about single parents? Are they just out of luck? And for me, what about when high school rolls around and I want my kids to be taking some advanced classes?

The problem here is evident. It is not possible to have a school charge $4000 or more per year. Governments get away with it because they collect their $10,000 per kid, per year at gunpoint (they dont pass a plate for property taxes).

The answer is one or a combination of two things: Get religious communities back in the schools, and  homeschooling. The former is not currently possible, as there are simply not enough of them. The latter is possible for most families.

What I think would be a good preparation for the future is  this:
Put funding currently going to Catholic schools into forming religious orders for teaching. Current teachers could either take vows or leave. The current schools could be turned into half living quarters for the religious/half schools. Restrict admittance for the time being to those who legitimately cannot homeshool (single parents, etc.) and make it free. Make the priority of the school the religious instruction and spiritual formation of the children. This way their instructors vows will have some payoff. After all, no one wants to sacrifice their life so a kid can be a better consumer of western culture and a better capitalist. But they will sacrifice their life for a child to grow up to be a saint.
If this were implemented nationwide, in a generation we could have thriving Catholic schools bursting at the seams with children who know and love their faith, and who are ready to take on the world for Christ.

Or we could just keep following the secular cultures example of treating schools like factories with expensive foremen. Unfortunately this is what will almost certainly happen in my children's lifetime, so homeschool will continue to be the best option for them.

After writing I learned the real costs. Elementary was less than my estimate, secondary was way more. I think my points are still valid though.

"The average cost of tuition per pupil in a catholic elementary school is $3,383 while secondary education costs $8,182. Parents who choose to send their children to Catholic school still pay for a public school education with their state and local taxes. In 2010, the public education system spent approximately $10,614 per pupil."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/08/educating-children-catholic-schools-doing/#ixzz1gQQHgQI3


  1. Can you expound upon your opinion that the Archdoicese should not pay for Catholic education? I believe it's part of their mission to provide a Catholic education for those who can't afford one. If Catholic schools were free, what is your opinion about non-catholic families attending? Would healthy competition make better quality schools, even without the expensive formen?
    Thanks Mr. Meyer.

  2. I will comment tonight further, but what's up with the name, do you seriously have my same name or are you fooling around?

  3. I DO in fact have your same name, I'm your wife!

  4. Woah trippy dude. It's like i'm talking to my self from the future or something!

  5. BTW, YOU are an expensive foreman. ;-)

  6. Public school + CCD/Faith Formation classes weekly?

  7. I think this post is a beautiful example of how "modern thinking" has been shown to be bankrupt. The mentality was we don't need religious vocations because everyone can change the world autonomously as a self-fulfilled layman. They didn't realize you cannot have a strong bond apart from communal life, and that communal life makes living feasible.

    I believe things are turning around though (e.g. Domincan Sisters of Nashville are booming with young vocations, even turning away prospects for lack of space). The vocations "crisis" isn't a crisis in the way most think: vocations in solidly orthodox and faithful orders are growing, while vocations in liberal communities have been dead for many years and snuffing them out of existence. The same is true about the "priest shortage" dilemma, because what a lot don't know is that a liberal area might actually be producing priests, but those seminarians go outside the archdiocese to greener pastures.

  8. "Public school + CCD/Faith Formation classes weekly?"

    That is just lipstick on a chimpanze. Government schools are evil. Anyone who says less has been grossly decieved or is evil themselves.

    If Government School is TRULY the only option, then I wouldnt blame someone for subjecting their kids to it. But I am having trouble thinking of many situations where it would be necessary. In my experience, most parents could homeschool if they really wanted to and prioritized for it, and if that werent an option (as with a single parent, like my mom was) then I dont think they would be denied a Catholic education. My point was that in their current form, Catholic schools could not survive if EVERY Catholic child went to them. They are simply to expensive because they are copying the way government schools operate by having expensive lay people as staff. Also, a community cannot pay property taxes for government schools and also pay for their own schools.

    Monetarily, the solution would be for a return to religious communities who dont get paid much to run the schools, combined with homeschooling.
    I would also advocate strongly for a ban on non-practicing/non-Catholic students (even paying ones). We are in a war. The schools are our boot camp, and we need to take them very, very seriously.

  9. "The mentality was we don't need religious vocations because everyone can change the world autonomously as a self-fulfilled layman. They didn't realize you cannot have a strong bond apart from communal life, and that communal life makes living feasible."

    Yes. And strangely, homeschooling families know this well. The family is it's own "domestic church" and community, and therefore is suited to teach children. Why? Because my wife does not teach as a "job". Her role as teacher is naturally part of her role as mother, and the "community" gets the job done quite well, and quite cheaply.
    The same is true for a religious community running a school. If their primary goal is to train children to be saints, with a paycheck as secondary, then they will fulfill their role wonderfully, and not require a huge salary like a large family would.

    Imagine Catholic schools run by religious communities that could offer free, high quality schooling to every Catholic. The government schools would bleed kids whose parent cant wait to go to mass every week to keep their kids in those schools.

  10. I would rather send my child to the worst Catholic school, than to the best public school.