Catholic vs. charter schools – let’s level the playing field


Catholic vs. charter schools – let’s level the playing field

February 23, 2012

By Jim Cultrara

An article in yesterday’s New York Daily News Charter vs. Catholic schools  revealed an alarming statistic –  charter schools account for 37 percent of the recent decline in the state’s Catholic school enrollment.  The article highlights some initial research by Abe Lackman, scholar in residence at Albany Law School, that was presented at a symposium recently hosted by St. Francis College.  I was asked to be on the panel to respond to the findings and I will stand by what I said then, namely:

  1. Parents should be alarmed, taxpayers should be alarmed, and lawmakers should be alarmed.
  2. Lawmakers intended charter schools to be an alternative to low-performing public schools (so, presumably, the siphoning off of religious and independent school students is unintended).
  3. Unless the playing field is leveled, far more Catholic schools will close, which in turn will unnecessarily disrupt thousands of lives and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more.

When Cardinal Dolan testified in Albany last year, he urged lawmakers to reverse this trend.  Here’s a little of what he said:  “I stand with you in support of our public schools.  All I’m asking is that our support be for all our kids, whether they’re in government or independent schools.   I’m not surprised that our parents and kids are angry.  They know you support public schools – and that’s fine – so do they.  They know you support the growth of charter schools – and that’s fine too.  But they want to know why you are not supporting them as well.   As the public sector expands, the religious and independent sector is shrinking – and it is taxpaying families who pay the price.   Please reverse this trend.   We urge you to enact a scholarship or education tax credit program that will provide meaningful assistance to enable parents to choose the school best suited for their children.  You can afford to do no less.”

Read the Daily News article