Over the past week, I’ve received hundreds of emails about the report of our Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic Education. The report calls for the closing or merger of dozens of our archdiocesan schools. Philadelphia has a long and venerable Catholic school tradition. So it’s no surprise that, while quite a few emails have expressed support, many more have been filled with confusion, anger and grief. This is natural. In fact, it would be abnormal and very troubling if people didn’t vent their feelings on a matter so close to the heart of Philadelphia Catholics.
But as tempers begin to cool, people read the report more closely, and schools consider appealing the Commission’s recommendations, we should keep a few basic facts in mind.
First, the Blue Ribbon Commission report is not finally about “closing schools.” It’s about putting Catholic education on a firm footing for the first time in decades. We tend to avoid this unpleasant work for understandable reasons: It can’t be done without suffering, and nobody wants to be the cause of other good people’s pain. But the work needs to be done. It can’t be delayed. Commission members have served all of us well by speaking truthfully – and offering genuine hope for the future — about enrollment and financial realities nobody wants to face.
The resource challenges we face in 2012 are much harsher than 40 or 50 years ago when many of us attended Catholic school. No family can run on nostalgia and red ink. Every parent knows this from experience. And so it is with the Church. We have a moral duty to use our resources wisely, not just in education, but in every aspect of our life as a believing community. If we haven’t always done that in the past, then we need to start now.
Catholic schools are worth fighting for because they do an extraordinary job of educating young people. We need to ensure that our schools are vigorously Catholic; academically excellent; and serve our people for decades to come. But we need to do it wisely and creatively, enlisting all the outside help we can. The Blue Ribbon Commission report is a vital step toward a strategic renewal of Catholic education in the archdiocese – which is why it’s a step forward.
Second, I’m very aware of the burdens many families and teachers will face because of the Commission’s recommendations. This was the hardest part of the Commission’s deliberations, especially since every Commission member has a long track record of service to the Church and a personal love for Catholic schools. I want to assure our people that the archdiocese will make every reasonable effort to place students and teachers in new positions and to assist those teachers who will lose their employment. No one will be ignored.
Third, one of the bright spots of a difficult week has been the number of business leaders and elected officials who have approached me privately to voice their support for Catholic schools and offer their help going forward. So maybe this is a moment when we can start imagining and doing the future differently. It’s useful to wonder how many of our schools might have been saved if, over the last decade, Catholics had fought for vouchers as loudly and vigorously as they now grieve about school closings. Some Catholics – too many – seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they’re discriminated against every day of the year. They pay once for public schools; then they pay again for the Catholic schools they rightly hold in such esteem.
Something’s wrong with that equation. It’s important for Catholics to hold the leadership of their Church accountable. No bishop or pastor should fear that. But Catholics should hold public leaders – beginning with our elected officials in Harrisburg – to an equally demanding standard. School choice may not answer every financial challenge in Catholic education; but vouchers would make a decisive difference. They’d help our schools enormously. To put it simply: Vouchers are a matter of parental rights and basic justice.
Fourth and finally, in the weeks ahead, as emotions subside, let’s remember that all of us have the duty to treat each other with charity and civility in Jesus Christ. The Blue Ribbon Commission members who worked so selflessly on the report, along with many members of our archdiocesan staff, did their service with extraordinary dedication, integrity and concern for the needs of our people. They deserve our thanks and respect. They do not deserve the bitter – and unjust – criticism some parents and students have shown them.
Catholic schools exist, first and foremost, to form believing Catholic Christians; people of the Gospel; people of justice, mercy and charity. If they produce something less, then we need to ask ourselves whether they deserve to survive.
(Help make school choice a reality in Pennsylvania. Visit the web site of the Pennsylvanis Catholic conference and become involved in the effort.)
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I would just like to say my child has been at St. George school for 9 years (pre K to 7th). I don’t understand how you can judge what a school does and how they teach if you never took the time to come and see our students and teachers work together. Why don’t you come out and visit us for a day to see how our school operates? You want to put us with a school that already has three schools in one. I feel my child will not learn in that type of environment. We pay for our children to go to school and we have the right to send them to what school we chose and we shouldn’t be told whare they should go.
Dear Archbishop Chaput,
My heart goes out to you because I know that you are faced with so many difficult issues. You have my prayers and my support.
I appreciate very much your concern about Catholic identity. Catholic identity is the responsibility of all of us. Unfortunately, many parents send their children to a parish elementary school or enroll their children in a PREP program but the majority of the parents are not attending Mass on a regular basis with their children. This disconnect is a very serious issue. Many times, a parish school or PREP program is viewed by parents as a place where children can participate in some sort of Rite of Passage rather than looked upon as a place that fosters the development of the child’s relationship with God and the building of a strong Catholic identity. I do believe that something needs to be done to change this pattern or we will produce a generation of Catholics with a very weak Catholic identity.
As far as the high schools are concerned, there needs to be a real commitment to orthodoxy, accountability of same, and the understanding by all students who attend these schools, that each one of them is expected to demonstrate a commitment to learning.
May God bless you and those involved with this very serious challenge of changing the direction of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
I agree with the previous comments the lack of data is appalling. You want us to blindly follow and support the commission without asking questions.Where is all the raw data on ALL of the schools? If declining enrollment is the cause for closing we should apply the same model to the seminaries aand convents. Does the data included the effects of the priest sex scandal in the declining #’s and the weakened economy? Probably not. Both of which- in speaking of imagine and money-could of have improved over time instead of our kids having to pay the price. But today, I lost my faith went I learned that ST. Huberts has to produce 1.2 million dollars before they are even allowed to present their case. WWJD? Give our girls a chance, you had a year and half and we get a few weeks to raise $ and present our case. That’s awful and a disgrace. We will fight for our school. But I am reconsidering going back to church with my family and I will not send my boys to catholic school to only to be crushed by the system that values bottom line and quick fixes.Phases!It how successful businesses work. Also,no one ever interviewed me or asked me to fill out a survey in regards to the school. I think we are being lied to because I am not the only parent who has voiced this. As a paying parent,I would like to know when the commission visited the school, what they observed, and how their data was collected, where was our meeting and review. You have questions to answer! Basically this couse of action is telling the current student, teachers,administrators, alumnae,local community and the over 200 girls that were scheduled to start in September that we are not valued. I am both saddened and embarrassed to be a catholic.
Dear Archbishop Chaput,
I trust that the RBC did its best in reaching its recommendations. It is unfortunate that many of our Archdiocesan schools do not appear to be sustainable. I certainly don’t envy your role or the role of the RBC in having to address the financial realities of the Archdiocese.
However, as you approve the closures of so many grade schools and high schools, please share with us your view as to whether the Archdiocese can any longer justify the tremendous expense of maintaining St. Charles Seminary, given its declining enrollments. This is not to say that the Archdiocese should not maintain a seminary program but rather that the expense of maintaining the palatial buildings and grounds of our current Seminary does not seem in any way justifiable while grade schools and high schools are being closed. As you stated in your Pastoral Letter of December 8th, “… the resources of the Church do not belong to the bishops or the clergy; they belong to the entire Catholic people, … This means that as archbishop, I have the duty to … ensure that the Church uses them (resources) with maximum care and prudence …” Please clarify your sense of duty with regards to the resources required to maintain the current seminary. Thank you.
As the mother of a 7th grade child at St. George, not only am I angry but extremely sad that my daughter will not be graduating at the school she loves. I am going in a different direction here. When Nativity closed in 2008, we merged with a regional school. Unfortunately, after 2 years of attending I decided to move her to St. George. I just wish that I did that in the beginning. St George is a small school, however the education is exceptional. Our principal has been there for 15 years, 10 as principal. Our pastor has been there for 29 years. We do consider our “small” school family because we are just that. Where do you find a Pastor that comes into the school to visit the children on a regular basis and knows each by name. “St. George”. Where do you find a Pastor that looks at each and every report card and hands them out himself. “St. George”. Where do you find a Pastor that involves each grade in doing an Active Liturgy in Church so the children are involved in Mass. “St. George”. Our Principal also works tirelessly with our children. Our school is self-sustaining. So, when you say the BRC is not about “closing schools”, it’s about putting Catholic Education on a firm footing in decades. I tell you with confidence St. George has been on firm feet for decades. I just wish the BRC took the opportunity to come to our school and see it for themselves. I pray that after hearing our appeal you do the right thing and keep our school open.
A lot of Dioceses are having to face the same facts. It is sad to see once flourishing Churches close. Of course all those loyal parishoners could have stayed in their old homes. Then the Churches and schools could have stayed open.
Agreed. I find it a little disheartening that this year’s Christmas Mass in our Parish seemed a little thinner than in past years. Ultimately, each Parish has to take responsibility for its own difficulties. However, there are many outside influences that also affect the bottom line. It’s an unfortunate fact that when push comes to shove, the sign of a good Catholic is how much gets dropped into the collection basket every week.
In Morrisville, we are fortunate that Father Eckert preaches inclusion and welcomes any who wishes to attend our masses. He doesn’t preach dollars, and despite that fact, we have a successful and sustainable Parish and School. Many of our Parishioners, my family included, give what we can. But when it comes down to the choice of putting food on the table, keeping a roof over our heads, and being able to “afford” to be good Catholics, to me the choice becomes obvious. We have been fortunate to be able to provide our daughter with a Catholic education and my goal is to attend Mass and show support to our Parish every week (when the schedule of our jobs – the basis of the income that allows us to survive) allow for it.
I wish that keeping the faith and showing support once a week would be enough. Unfortunately, it all comes down to money and many people are at that point where the money is just not there, so even coming to Mass every week would ultimately not make a difference as that obviously was not, and would never be, incorporated into the BRC report.
•create and nourish Christian community in the domestic church of the family, in the life of every parish, and in society as a whole.( This is a statement on your web site)How is this going to be accomplished if you leave it to a commission that is ready to close so many catholic schools in the city. As a raised catholic, I am starting to lose the so called faith that I was taught for so many years attending Catholic Schools.All 3 catholic schools I attended are now closed. Saint Ambrose, Ascension of Our Lord, and the Lastest Northeast Catholic.Now my children’s school Saint George is on the list to close. You wonder why enrollment is down, Stop increasing the tution every year that you close schools and then merge them. Doing this you are forcing people to stop sending their children to Catholic school. Fearing the next school they send their children to will close. I will say this,If my children’s school should close I will Not Support another Catholic School, Nor Parish.
I agree with your comments. Is it not the Archdiocese who sets the tuition rates for the high schools? All high schools are dealing with declining enrollments including those allowed to stay open. The BRC reports says that tuitions will not go down, how will this increase enrollments? How does this help the future of Catholic eucation? It has to start at top. The Archdioce has to decrease their operating costs, start trimming their budgets.
You said yourself you have only been in the Diocese of Philadelphia for four months, it’s a lot different then Rapid City and Denver. The people of Archdiocese of Philadelphia are very passionate about their parishes and schools. Many have been in existence for over one hundred years, I’m sure you haven’t visited too many. It’s becoming apparent that your predecessors dropped the ball long ago. Maybe it’s about time that the Diocese opens it’s financial records for everything they are doing not just for the schools. I think you owe it to all parishioners that turn in their envelopes each week. Everyone should ask their parishes how much is sent to the Archdiocese each week and where does it go?
Likewise, it is understandable that such hard decisions must be made. But also likewise they must be made according to the guidelines set forth and with reasonable business acumen. I have read the full commission report and have looked at the numbers on the web site. There are many instances where the numbers do not make sense for merger. It is also equally clear that community factors where also not taken into consideration with some of these mergers (like how parents are supposed to get their children to the new school when there are no transportation options). I find it hard to believe that this is supposed to encourage more people to come to the Church, when many of these decisions will have the opposite effect.
However, it has recently come to my attention that the Archdiocese refuses to acknowledge or read any of the e-mails and letters that have been sent by concerned parishioners. I understand that the number of schools affected will generate an inordinate amount of correspondence, but as someone who is new to the Catholic faith, I find it greatly disturbing that the most highly respected leaders of our faith would not consider the concerns and words of those they oversee worth any amount of time. Despite this, I plan on continue to write letters and voice my concerns about this decision. If you believe this to be a waste of time, then perhaps my choice in the Catholic is also a mistaken one.
Thank you for your leadership and your courage. Although it is causing many good families a lot of pain, my husband and I suppurt your decision to consolidate our Catholic Schools. Better to consolidate and strengthen them as difficult as that may be,than see the entire Catholic school system eventually collapse all together. Careful pruning is often the best way to help something grow stronger. We pray that this will be the case for our Archdiocese’s schools. The sacrifices made by many whose schools are closing, we are certain, will not be in vain. As you mentioned in your letter, we’d love to see our schools grow into being even more authentically Catholic, with faculty and staff who are all practicing Catholics, and who are passionate about spreading the Good News of our beloved faith in a way that is faithful to our Magisterium. We are praying for everyone involved in the situation, especially for you, Archbishop.
Finally we have let the cat out of the bag.This whole BRC charade has been about closing schools( i.e. small schools without any deficits) to create large regional schools. Then, the politicians can give the AOP the vouchers they want in the worse way. So I would like to thank you for finally publicly stating your rationale for this heinous decision. This will fail in a big way and time will tell the truth. This has always been about making money and always will be. So let this be my goodbye to you the AOP. It’s ashame you will be destroying the very people you are here to serve and do Gods work. I know you have the reputation of being a very good man, but Archbishop Chaput you were brought here to Philadelphia to clean up a very disturbing mess and now my children are going to be affected due to the FACT that horrible things went on in the AOP for a long time and I will not be a part of it any longer. I hope and pray that you will reconsider this awful plan and do the right thing for all the Catholics of Philadelphia and reverse this recommendation immediately.
I understand your mission to preserve Catholic education. However, the way this initiative has been handled is turning more off people more than inspiring them.
For one, most of the information listed on faithinthefuture in regards to St. George School is false. I also agree with other posters before me who stated that we have not been provided full disclosure about how the process was conducted.
Additionally, if the Blue Ribbon Commission wants to move to a regional school model, why isn’t there any data about the regional schools that are already open available? The Office of Catholic Education’s website proudly proclaims that Catholic schools have excellent Terra Nova scores. Where are they? Where is the break down that will tell me the percentage of high school graduates that go on to college?
I understand being a woman of faith and believe I am trying really hard to hold on to that right now. However, I also need to make a smart decision with my finances. If I am about to spend the amount of money required for a Catholic education, I need to know some facts and figures to make sure that it is still worthwhile.
The bottom line is that Catholics in Philadelphia are tired of the pray and obey days. We have had too many of our leaders keep us in the dark about important issues. You have a chance here to be something different and make it right. Do it!
I am a practicing, believing Catholic who pays three times: I pay taxes for public schools, I donate weekly to my parish which supports the parish school, and I buy textbooks, workbooks, and syllabi to teach my children at home. I have also written letters, signed petitions, and made phone calls in support of vouchers for Catholic schools and yet the voucher initiatives failed. Because of my decision to home school my children, I have been called everything from a “prideful elitist” (the pastor of our former parish thought that one up) to a “mushroom farmer” (because outsiders assume that I “keep my kids in the dark and feed them you-know-what”). I have presented my religious instruction plan to DREs and pastors and defended the efficacy of the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism in teaching my children to “know, love, and serve God in this world so that they can be happy with Him forever in the next.” Thus, my boys have been released from the requirement to attend PREP because they have demonstrated their knowledge of the faith. However, since they are not enrolled in a Catholic school and do not attend PREP, they are no longer eligible to participate in CYO sports (BRC Report p. 22). Where is the justice in that?
One of the difficulties I am having with the report is that the full data used to make decisions has not been shared. Given that some of the data is being called into question, would it not be just to be more transparent with the data that was collected for ALL the schools, not just the ones recommended for closure? It would also be better to share the decision criteria utilized in making the decisions.
On a Fox 29 interview this week, one of the committee members, Eleanor Dezzi, mentioned that she “voted to close West Catholic”, her alma mater. Were the committee members “voting” to close schools or were they following a rigorous data-based analysis with establish criteria to make their decisions?
The anger that people in the archdiocese are experience is not just that their particular schools are closing. Is it, in fact, due to the feeling that once again, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Office of Catholic Education are cloaking their work in secrecy, failing to involve the representative communities, and making decisions on a vote and a whim rather than on a logical, rational process.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suffered from a lack of accountability for years from its leadership. This Blue Ribbon Report feels like more of the same. The Blue Ribbon Committee had 13 months to gather their data which they have yet to fully release…the affected schools have 3 weeks to gather theirs. To paraphrase from our new liturgical responses, this is neither right nor just.
I agree with this.
The emotional reactions to the closings would remain no matter how this was presented, but I believe more transparancy, even at this late point, may 1) help alleviate the suspicion many feel toward the process and 2) help those gathering information for an appeal understand the commission’s perspective.
To me, the commission report on Faithinthefuture.com offers only a slickly marketed and vetted presentation of selected facts. Now, they may well be exactly the right facts and the most important facts to know, but virtually everything in there was presented in the press conference. I downloaded the report hoping to see much more raw data and not have my hand held to reach the same conclusions.
Is it at all possible to publicly post more detailed data on the website?
I should add that I thought the commission’s report and the website do a great job of presenting how serious the overall problem is and that big changes needed to be made, including many closures, to ensure sustainability.
But I’m sure most of those emailing OCE and His Excellency aren’t generally upset about “a lot of schools” closing, but particularly upset about *their* school closing. They want to understand the decisions in context. That’s where more transparency and availability of data would help.
I went back and looked at Faithinthefuture.com again and there’s much more substantial data available than there was before (or maybe I missed the links previously).
Thank you! The various annual pastor’s reports and school reports are the sort of unedited data I was hoping to see.
I still think many of the concerns stated about the process are valid, and more data on the schools left open would be ideal, but I’m really happy to see all this on the site and appreciate the effort it represents.
I am a parent of a child who attends Mother of Divine Providence Catholic School in King of Prussia. Our school has been “saved” from outright closure, but is scheduled to reopen next year under a new name and merged with students and families from Conshohocken Catholic. Because we have been “saved” I am supposed to be relieved. The reality is that I struggle to make sense of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s proposal for Catholic elementary schools. I am not alone.
Looking closely at the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report, there is a consistent theme among the schools affected. With few exceptions the schools affected are at or below 50% of their capacity, and on average, require substantial subsidies from their parish. Looking at that broad picture, the decision to merge and consolidate schools is compelling and inescapable. However the same cannot be said about which schools are actually merged together. Those decisions, to many parents, are outright baffling.
There is an existing model for regional education that the Blue Ribbon Commission appears to have ignored completely, and that is our public school system. Merging Catholic elementary schools in a way that roughly mirrors the geographic boundaries of our public school systems would provide efficiencies in busing, curriculum and scheduling. More importantly, our school districts give shape to what many of us consider to be our broader communities. To many families who will be displaced, moving to a school that is in close proximity and/or within the boundaries of their current school system would provide a sense that they are attending a school within their community. Reordering our Catholic Schools along the lines of our public school systems would also be consistent with the concept of “school choice.” If you elect not to send your child to your local public school, there would be a logical alternative within your own school district. Keeping children in Catholic schools located within existing school districts seems like a natural fit.
So why was that model ignored? The Archdiocese of Philadelphia organizes itself into four administrative Regions (Episcopal Regions). Each region is assigned an Auxiliary Bishop. Each Region is subdivided into multiple Deaneries. Each Deanery is subdivided into a handful of Parish Planning Areas (“PPAs”). Each PPA is comprised of 4-8 parishes. Who knew? In a world where Episcopal Regions, Deaneries and PPAs are relevant, the reorganization falls together very nicely……
In that world, it makes sense to merge St. Philip Neri in East Greenville, Montgomery County with schools in Quakertown, Bucks County, because they are in the same Deanery and PPA. Or, consider the merger proposed between Conshohocken Catholic (Colonial School District) and Mother of Divine Providence in King of Prussia (Upper Merion School District), approximately 6-7 miles away. Many children from Conshohocken are already migrating to Catholic schools in Plymouth and Lafayette Hill that are within the Colonial School District. It would seem to make sense to send children from Conshohocken to closer schools, located within the same public school district’s boundaries and where many are already migrating. But if you live in the world of Deaneries, you don’t see the world that way. If you see the world as a Deanery, it makes much more sense to send children from Conshohocken to King of Prussia because they are in the same Deanery and PPA. Similarly, no consideration is given to sending children from St. Theresa in Trooper to MDP in King of Prussia (despite their close proximity) because they are in different Deaneries and PPAs.
The problem with all of that is obvious. Episcopal Regions, Deaneries and PPA are irrelevant to most of us showing up in the pews on Sundays and making the sacrifices to send our children to Catholic Schools. Those arbitrary divisions and territories do not give shape or meaning to our every day lives. Using them as a model to reorganize schools results in many merged schools that simply don’t make sense to us down here at the bottom of the ecclesiastical food-chain.
The Blue Ribbon Commission sent out a survey early on its process. The Commission knew that they had to close schools, yet they didn’t ask a very simple and fundamental question: “If your local Catholic elementary school were to close, where would you most likely send your child to school?” If that question had been asked, I predict that overwhelmingly, parents would have expressed a desire to send their children to closer Catholic schools and Catholic schools within the public school system. More importantly, the Blue Ribbon Commission would have had an invaluable source of information to guide them as they reorganized and regionalized our Catholic schools.
Sadly, the failure to ask that simple question, the failure to take into consideration preferences and tendencies of parents with children in Catholic schools and the failure to look at our public school system’s geographic boundaries as a model will result in many new merged schools that are simply doomed to fail. The Commission missed an opportunity to create truly sustainable newly merged Catholic schools.
I have little confidence that the appeals process, which appears designed for individual schools to make their case, will allow for the broader argument that a different model is needed for our school reorganization. My prayer is that our new Archbishop will have the courage to pause, step back, and look at the need to close and merge elementary schools without regard to Episcopal Regions and Deaneries and instead, look at what mergers might actually work.
Edmund J. Campbell, Jr.
To Ed Campbell: Thank you for articulating so well that which I believe to be true!
I would like to bring another useful law to the forefront,a law currently in the Pa senate,HB 1776,the elimination of schoool property taxes. Think what 1/3 of a mortgage payment could do to save our schools. Think how much the diocese could save in scool property taxes on land and buildings not exempt. As a person that watched his parents sacrifice to send me through 12 years of catholic school(class of 1989,Bishop Egan) I had hoped to do the same with my two children,and perhaps I still can,but not as likely ,unless we can make the changes nessasary. This bill would have an immediate impact,please push it as much or more than the vouchers. It started in the house,and remains virtualy unchanged in the senate. It is easily researched online. Please,explore this option before any final decision is made. Sincerely,Matthew Beishl
I agree also that it would have been abnormal for parents not to feel angry, but when you come from a school that was unjustly recommended to close, St. George Catholic in Port Richmond, you don’t know how else to feel. If the Blue Ribbon Commission worked with so much integrity, then why was the report for our school incorrect and based on false information? Why was the public told that these officials came out to our school to investigate it when, in fact, they didn’t? None of the above ever happened. We just want the opportunity and chance to keep our school open because we are thriving. We are not in defecit and we are self sustaining. Please recognize this and we are praying that you will overturn the decision to close. Our kids deserve to continue the wonderful education that they have been receiving at St. George Catholic. I pray that you will make the right decision. Have a blessed day!
Christine M. Aguado
“Some Catholics – too many – seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they’re discriminated against every day of the year.”
As a Catholic and a parent I find it distressing to criticize our Catholic leaders. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever! But when the abdicate their responsibility to those that they have elected to serve to a group of people with absolutely no vested interest in our schools, I have no choice but to be vocal.
Decisions regarding the future of our children cannot be “dollars and cents” or “based on the numbers” decisions. The decisions of this committee were made in the conference room, not in the parishes. Had these people taken the time to go out into the parishes and schools, they would have seen that the problems are administrative and systemic, not in the individual schools. This slash and burn solution without explanation is what has the faithful of this city upset.
Philadelphia has always been known as a “City of Neighborhoods”, each with it’s particular identity. The neighborhood schools are an integral part of this identity. This fact was in no way reflected in the report of the commission.
For the commission to assume that students will simply go to the schools to which they are expected (read that directed) is foolish and short sighted. Many parents will choose a school themselves, and that choice may not be a Catholic school. The fact that surrounding school Principals are being told that they may not accept students from a school that is being “consolidated” is even more short sighted. Your comments point to a school voucher program, euphemistically referred to as “School Choice” as an answer. Has it occurred to ANYONE on the committee or in the OCE that the voucher program as spelled out most recently will not benefit the vast majority (upwards of 90%) of the students being affected by these closures and consolidations.
In light of these many issues, Your Excellency, it seems just a bit hypocritical to refer to “School Choice” as a solution when it is the policy of the OCE to deny choice to the families of students in consolidated schools. These criticisms of the “Blue Ribbon Commission” and the Office of Catholic Education administration are neither unjust nor undeserved. I fail to see the “dedication and concern” when the people affected by these unilateral decisions were not consulted (except by an online survey). Even the pastors, our neighborhood Church leaders, were kept out of the process. To eliminate parents and local clergy from such life-altering decisions is unconscionable and unjust. If His Excellency is looking for injustice, he might want to review that part of the process.
In closing, I must say that I resent the implications of your closing statement. That which is important in our lives is worth fighting for. We are parents fighting for the futures of our children. You find a lack of charity in public response to this announcement, yet those involved find a critical lack of not only charity, but social justice in the cold, calculated choices made in the commission report. If you’re looking for charity, sir, it should come from the top down. To tell people concerned with the education of their children that they have to take what they’re given with a “because we said so” or “we know better” attitude is not charitable, not just, and not Catholic.
Archbishop Chaput…..Where was the archdiocesan Office of Education years ago when PA started instituting charter schools? With their expertise and experience in elementary and secondary education, the archdiocesan education office was clearly in position to apply for and secure charter school facilities.
Of course, it would have necessitated the separation of “religious instruction” from the educational curriculum, but such religious instruction outside of the regular school day is something the archdiocese has been providing for many years.
Sorry, Archbishop, your leadership failed to participate in the charter school network and you personally should go back and research why such an opportunity was missed and/or ignored.
Did you know that he has been Abp of Philly for all of 6 month? He is in clean-up leadership mode. Good grief.
These are Catholic schools. If you want secular schools, I am sure there is one near you that teaches contraception, if that is your desire….
Michael!! The Archbishop was in DENVER,CO “years ago” so assailing HIM is fruitless. You raise a daunting question regarding “Charter Schools” because the HEART of a Catholic School is the Catholic Faith which really does not separate the various academic subjects from a Catholic Philosophy of Education. There are MANY issues and your counsel about looking at the charter schools is good.