In the past week, there have been combox discussions across the Catholic blogosphere about the parochial school system -- at California's The Cafeteria is Closed, Ohio's Ten Reasons, and Virginia's Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom. This past January, during Catholic Schools Week, I gave my own spin on the subject, entitled Heard any good news lately? Here's what I recently told Mom:
"If you find a good one, more power to you. But it really comes down to the parents as primary educators of the Faith. If a Catholic school facilitates that, fine. If it doesn't, and a public school's limitations can be overcome, you're better off saving your money for a good Catholic college. Two years of a solid classical liberal arts curriculum, and they can go anywhere, and go far."
In most of North America, Catholic schools have become, in my estimation, a lost cause. Often it's not the fault of the schools themselves. Good teachers can be hamstrung by theologically-bankrupt administrators, who in turn can be victims of shenanigans from the chancery. And all, regardless of who is pastor or who is bishop, are part of the same decaying subculture that emerged with a vengeance in the late 1960s and early 1970s. On top of that, the drop in teachers from religious orders, combined in more recent years with state requirements for equipment and administrative overhead, have pushed the cost through the roof. Even with tuition, a parish school can comprise as much as half of a parish's operating budget. With the advent of independent "academies" started by parents' groups and eventually getting a bishop's approval, it is only now turning around.
Just barely, mind you. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.