The events beginning in the very late 1960’s and carrying through to today has brought a once successful Catholic education model to its knees. Here are some of the stats that tell the story of the damage and where we are today:
· Since 1960 the number of religious sisters in the US has dropped from 180,000 to about 56,000, with an average age of 69 years.
· In 1960 the sisters accounted for 92+% of the faculty, they now account for 2.5%
· In order to remain somewhat competitive Catholic schools have had to begin to compensate the faculty closer to the pay of the public sector, adding to their escalating costs.
· Charter Schools took hold in the 1990’s which contributed to the undermining of the urban Catholic education. This new option offered presumably safer and tuition-free schools in the urban neighborhood, allowing many parents to forgo the expense of Catholic schools.
· Since 1960 more than 6,000 Catholic schools have closed with a loss of 3,000,000 students - a reduction of about 50% of the schools and 60% of the students.
· During the same period the average size of the Catholic family is down 50% to 2 children.
· Many major urban areas: including Chicago, New York, Brooklyn, Camden and most recently Philadelphia have or are in the process of closing 25 – 30% of their Catholic schools.
· Where Catholic schools once claimed 90% of the private school sector they only represent 1 in 5 non-public schools. And of those that remain only 1 out of every 8 is located in the inner city – where the need is the greatest.In summary, over the past 50 years the Catholic school system has been crushed from all sides.
So what now? All we hear about are how many schools are closing. Do Catholic schools have a future? Is there even a value in having Catholic schools?