The Death of Catholic Parochial Schools?

Since 2000, Catholic school attendance has fallen23.4 percent or a loss of 621,583 students   Catholic schools used to educate one out of every eight  children in the U.S.

The obvious question is why enrollment has fallen if Catholic schools have done as admirable a job educating disadvantaged students as they claim? The answer is not the result of lack of demand but of the inability of poor parents to pay tuition, which has risen because of the growth of tuition-free charter schools and mounting personnel costs. Until the 1960s, most teachers in Catholic schools were nuns who never took a cent in salary. Today, nearly 96 percent of the faculty are lay teachers. As a result, Catholic schools have been forced to increase tuition to stay operational.

Graduation rates and standardized test scores in Catholic schools outpace those in traditional public schools. But it’s important to remember that Catholic schools can enroll and expel at will, are not required by law to accept special education students, and can alter the curriculum as they alone see fit. Public schools have no such freedom in any of these areas. These advantages notwithstanding, the greatest appeal of Catholic schools to parents of all faiths is the discipline and values-based approach to learning. Parents want the structure that Catholic schools offer and that many public schools do not.