Monday, January 30, 2006

It's Catholic Schools Week -- how much longer will yours exist?

Unfortunately, that’s a question we have to ask ourselves these days. Here are some statistics from the National Catholic Educational Association website:
In the 2004-2005 school year, 37 new schools were opened (good). But 173 were consolidated or closed (bad).

There are today, 7,799 Catholic schools in the United States. That’s down 494 from 10 years ago, or 6%, or nearly 50 schools closing a year.

There were 2,618,567 students in the 1994-1995 school year and now there are 2,420,590. That’s down 236,085 or 9%.
So if there are six percent fewer schools and nine percent fewer students, something’s going to have to give.

What’s more disturbing, though, is a breakdown of that picture shown by the NCEA. Between 1995 and 2000, the number of students in grades 9 through 12 rose by nearly 26,000. But in the next five years, it only went up by 3,600.

Add to that the fact that the number of elementary school students has dropped by 236,000 in the last five years, and things don’t look so well for Catholic schools.

The question, of course, is why is this happening? There are a lot of public schools closing around the country as well, so we’re not alone in this mess. But that shouldn’t necessarily give us any comfort. If anything, it should make us uneasy and it should make us ask the question of why there are so many schools closing.

I think we can easily point to two things that a lot of people are either overlooking, ignoring or they know it, but aren't saying it because they're afraid of the consequences. Those two things?

Contraception and abortion.

When you think about the fact that there have been 46 million abortions in this country since 1973 and start running the numbers, you’re going to come up with some scary figures. That means there are 25 million children who would have been born in the last 18 years who were not born. Couple that with the fact of the number of children who were prevented from even being conceived because of contraception and you have millions more who do not exist and who are not contributing to our lives in one way or another.

A lot of people are blaming their diocese or their parish for closing the schools. But it’s really not really the bishop’s or pastor’s fault for closing the school. It’s our fault – the fault of the married laity – because we either didn't make the babies to occupy those schools or we killed them before they were born.

OK, so maybe we're not totally at fault. Maybe we need some (gasp!) leadership on this issue since perhaps, just perhaps, we educated laity aren't all as educated as we like to think we are. Maybe we do need priests and bishops telling us it is wrong to contracept and abort and do it from the pulpit in a public way and on a frequent basis, despite the fact that the media will say the Catholic Church is obsessed with sex. Sure, they'll get heat for it. But personally, I would rather take heat for that which is a fundamental issue, rather than taking heat for the prudential issue of closing more schools.


Barb, sfo said...

You're killing me, with this topic, just now.
It's Catholic Schools Week and we are closing in June. It hurts.
As the pastor of the parish we'll be attending in the future said to me last week when I commented that people my age with children were never taught the value of sending their children to Catholic School, "They were never taught THE VALUE OF SACRIFICE."
Fits right in with your point, as well.

MiMi said...

Have they even noticed the cost of sending one child to catholic school? Much less two children...three who are they kidding??? On my husbands paycheck we would starve. Unless I was working, which is also against the teachings of Catholicism when Mom stayed home to “raise” the children

Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz said...

Sorry about that, Barb. I knew it would be sensitive to you, but the truth must be spoken. It's something I've observed for years and wanted to say. Now, here's my forum.

MiMi, the Church never had doctrine that Mom must stay at home to raise the children, if that's what you mean by "teaching." She's always known that there are situations where that's not possible. However, Mom raising the children at home is the ideal of life and far better than sending the children to be raised by people other than their parents. Even in difficult situations, that is the value of sacrifice.

Barb, sfo said...

What I was trying to say with my comment about sacrifice is that the same mentality is what allows Catholics to abort and contracept.