I read an article a few weeks back that referenced a great NCEA pamphlet entitled Weathering the Storm: Moving Catholic Schools Forward by Leonard DeFiore, PhD, John J. Convey, PhD, and Merylann J. Shuttloffel. This 2009 publication in some ways resembles some of the same “sky is falling” cries for help that readers will recognize in the present day.
However, the authors present a series of recommendations that have gone unnoticed. Or if they have been noticed, they have gone unmet. Here are their recommendations:
- Effective Stewardship: The authors call on dioceses to educate the faithful on what effective giving looks like in order to increase parish contributions. This effort to improve parish vitality would impact parishes’ ability to support Catholic schools. The numerous lawsuits and bankruptcies have certainly hampered these efforts.
- All Parishes Support Catholic Schools: We are still having this debate! Parishes without schools are questioning the value of Catholic schools in providing vocations and faithful Catholics.
- Build New Schools Where Needed: Catholics have become so “defensive” about closing schools that they have failed to innovate where needed. They even provide a standard: 1000 registered households and 65 infant baptisms per year.
- Explore Legal Options: School Choice and challenging Blaine Amendments are recommended strategies to bring about improved school funding.
- A Faith-Based Charter School?: The authors recommend investigating whether a Catholic charter could open.
All of these are solid ideas and deserve to be resurrected. The problems have only increased in the 8 years since publication.