April 10, 2005 -- Are Catholic Schools viewed as the backbone of the Catholic Church or are they money losing subsidiaries?
Everyday in the newspaper are accounts of scores of Catholic Schools closing their doors. It isn’t that Catholics don’t prefer a Catholic education
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for their children. It isn’t that the performance of Catholic Schools is disappointing. It comes down to one overriding issue: lack of resources.
With a much higher proportion of lay teachers and less support and lower priority from parishes due to financial pressures, Catholic Schools have no choice but to raise tuitions so high that they have become unaffordable for average American families. In addition, the “resource gap” between public and Catholic schools is substantial and growing.
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teachers receive on average about half the salary and benefits of public schools teachers.
While public school administrators complain about lack of resources, their facilities oftentimes dwarf those available for Catholic school students. No music teachers, having to borrow public school gyms, lack of science labs, libraries, books, computers and foreign language
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programs are more the rule than the exception.
Despite these “resource gaps”, numerous studies show that Catholic school students score consistently higher across all demographic groups and particularly well in low income urban areas. But as tuition escalates and the “resource gap” widens, families have little choice but to leave and schools that have run for generations are no more.
The Chartwell Trust, an education charitable organization, has launched a campaign to reduce this resource gap by funding innovative and cost effective programs such as science labs, transforming computers into language labs by acquiring low cost Rosetta Stone software, seed capital for athletic equipment and facilities, and supporting Christmas bonus programs for Catholic School teachers.
Of course, the heart of the Catholic School tradition is a strong emphasis on spiritual and character development, but without more private resources, without action right now, the alarming trend of school closures will continue. We need to renew our commitment to the growth of a well equipped affordable Catholic school option for families.
Contributions to The Chartwell Trust may be sent to the attention of Carl Delfeld, Chartwell Trust, 8430 Lauralwood, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 or call (719) 264-1503 for further information.