As a practicing Catholic, I was discouraged this morning when I read the Wall Street Journal editorial, penned by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Mayor Riordan, who is the founding president of the Los Angeles Catholic Education Foundation, reported on the rampant closures of Catholic schools across the nation while pleading for charitable funding to help save Catholic education in Los Angeles.
While the closures of Catholic schools irritated me, I became outraged when I considered the vast number of children who could be well served in this educational setting but will continue to languish in LA Unified because they simply cannot afford to attend these high quality schools.
The sad fact is that Catholic schools are not closing because families do not want to send their children to Catholic schools. They are closing because parents cannot afford the tuition, and parishes can no longer afford to continue to subsidize their schools.
Mayor Riordan reported that an impressive 98 percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school, as compared with urban schools that often graduate a mere 30 percent of students. Despite this monumental achievement, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of students who attend Catholic schools and the number of schools with open doors. According to the editorial, “In the early 1960s, the U.S. had over 13,000 Catholic schools with 5.5 million students. Today there are 6,900 schools with two million students.”
States must adopt policies that allow parents to choose the education that best suits the needs of their children.