Saturday, February 4, 2012

Catholic Schools Week: The buck stops with us!

So in the end, it seems to always comes down to the dollar.

As I have outlined in the earlier posts the financial model of the 60’s is long gone.  Most parishes can no longer subsidize the schools, not all parents can afford the rising tuition and qualified and experienced faculty need to be paid fair wages.

But what is the quality of Catholic Schools? The National Assessment of Educational Progress is widely considered the gold standard among student achievement tests. In 2008, it released a report on long-term trends. In each category, and for every age group, students in Catholic schools outperformed students in public schools.

So are Catholic Schools worth investing in?  Well an atheist thinks so! Robert Wilson, a successful, retired Wall Street investor is the single largest benefactor of Catholic Schools in the history of the Archdiocese of New York.  Since 2007 he has donated over $30 million to inner-city Catholic Schools. He also happens to be an atheist.  He recognized that the Catholic schools get little outside financial support and yet do an incredible job in educating children.  What surprised him even more was that nobody seemed to be doing much about it, including Catholics themselves. So he put his personal wealth were he felt it counted most – in Catholic schools.

There is no silver bullet to fix the problem.  Long gone are the times where the local pastor and parish are solely responsible for the costs and decisions of the school. As governance needs to change so, too, does the financial support. While Catholic educational models will change to meet the dynamic world we live in…Catholics will need to heed the call for financial help.  Vatican II reminded all Catholics that we have a right and an obligation for full participation in the faith.  That includes using gifts of time and money to ensure that our faith continues to be taught to future generations.

In the words of Gandhi: You must be the change you want to see in the world.

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