Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A new report from the Friedman Foundation, called "Sector Switchers," is looks at "why Catholic schools convert to charters and what happens next." Here's a bit from the summary:
For decades, Catholic schools, particularly inner-city Catholic schools, have seen declines in enrollment and an increasing need for subsidies from their dioceses. Many dioceses, however, have been unable to shoulder that burden, forcing schools to close. In response to difficult financial circumstances, the archdioceses of Indianapolis, Miami, and Washington, D.C., put a new twist on the typical story, “closing” a set of their inner-city schools, but allowing them to reopen as independently managed public charter schools.
That phenomenon raises interesting questions about the future of urban Catholic schooling. In this paper, we examine, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the effect of this conversion on the schools and communities involved.
As a general matter, I would strongly prefer that Catholic schools remain Catholic schools -- schools where a Catholic mission and commitment pervades the entire enterprise -- rather than "thriving charter schools in buildings that once housed Catholic schools," even if these charters are accompanied by various before- and after-school religious-education programs. I support the charter-school movement -- very much! -- but believe tax credits and scholarships are essential to a just public-education-funding regime (because what happens in Catholic schools counts as "educating the public" it should be funded by the public).