Friday, March 05, 2010

On The Costs Of Catholic Education

Back in the early 1970s, when my parents sent me off to Catholic elementary school, their tuition bill for the year was something like one hundred dollars. (Mom, you can correct me if I'm way, way wrong.) Fast forward to today. This year, the tuitions at Julie and Z's schools add up to more than twenty thousand dollars.

What happened?

This is, of course, a story that has been told by many others. It involves shrinking supplies of religious who have long provided inexpensive sources of instruction and administration. It involves declining support from parish communities. It involves migrations of Catholic families from cities to suburbs. And the list goes on.

What has sustained Catholic schools through all of these changes is, among other things, the commitment of working families to the basic idea and mission of Catholic education. These are families who have made very real sacrifices to keep their kids in Catholic school, especially as tuition rates have continued to skyrocket.

Have we reached a tipping point, though? Are we now at a point where working families are finding it impossible to justify the sacrifice anymore?

That school I attended from first through eight grades is scheduled to be shut down, perhaps at the end of this year, perhaps at the end of next year, unless enrollments increase immediately. This is a school, by the way, located in the middle of an upper-middle class suburban community. And our own parish has seen nothing but declining enrollments for a number of years, despite the fact that we have an academically excellent, award winning school.

I have no solutions here...



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