‘Fundamental existential threat’ to Catholic schools


‘Fundamental existential threat’ to Catholic schools

September 25, 2012

By Dennis Poust

The Times Union of Albany today highlights a growing threat to Catholic education, namely the rise of charter schools. The story highlights a soon-to-be-published report by Abraham Lackman, scholar-in residence at Albany Law School, demonstrating the negative impact charters have had on Catholic schools in cities across the state.

Lackman notes that for every charter school that has opened in New York State in the last decade, a parochial school has closed. In the city of Albany, which has the state’s largest number of charters per capita, Catholic school enrollment has declined by 65 percent, with four out of seven Catholic elementary schools closing and the city’s lone Catholic high school seeing its enrollment drop by two thirds.

“I believe charter schools are a fundamental existential threat to the Catholic system and I don’t see how many will survive,” Lackman told the TU. “They are clearly marketing themselves as an alternative to parochial schools, which was never the intent.”

And it’s not just a New York problem. Education Week has a national story on the phenomenon in its August 29th issue:

“Since the nation’s first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992, the number of those independently managed public schools has risen steadily. Today, some 5,600 charter schools, serving about 2 million students, operate in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

“Meanwhile, the number of students in Catholic schools has fallen. Since 2000, 1,942 Catholic schools around the country have shut their doors, and enrollment has dropped by 621,583 students, to just over 2 million today, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. If that decline con