Catholic Schools Struggle to Survive

School’s Out Forever!

No matter what the Catholics want you to believe, the fact is, they’re failing miserably.  It isn’t just the churches who have suffered from plummeting membership for years, it’s the Catholic schools who they rely on to brainwash kids into lifelong Catholic zombies, that have seen fewer and fewer students coming through the door year after year.

In the past decade, Catholic schools have seen a 24.5% drop in attendance and more than 2000 schools in the United States have closed or consolidated.  Chicago’s Leo Catholic High School for Boys has fallen from 1200 students in the 1950s to just 157 this year.  New York is going to lose 24 schools this year, according to the local archdiocese.  Of course, this isn’t true everywhere, there are small pockets of growing Catholic influence like Indiana, Texas and Florida, but the news just isn’t good for Catholic education in general.

Of course, the Catholics try to spin it like this is a bad turn of events.  They claim that the estimated 2 million students educated in private religious schools save taxpayers over $21 billion a year, but that’s simply not the case.  Public schools are funded by property taxes, those taxes are raised whether the students to to public schools or not.  The only thing that private schools do is reduce the amount of money families have available to spend because they are paying for schooling twice.  I’d rather see that $21  billion pumped into the economy through local businesses than wasted on religious education.  At least local businesses pay taxes on the money they collect, unlike the Catholics who are tax-exempt.

Catholics claim that it’s the charter schools and changing demographics that are harming them but I suspect that it’s a better educated society that is driving people away from religious schools and churches in droves.  Of course, the Catholic sex scandal can’t be helping them.  Add to that the fact that Catholics typically give half as much to their church as Protestants, 1.2% vs. 2.5%, I’m not surprised to see them running out of money faster.  With weekly Catholic church attendance down dramatically since the 1970s, falling from 47% to 24% in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, the schools will only continue to suffer unless they can find a way to boost their ranks.  Many archdiocese are trying to appeal to the Hispanic community as a means of filling their classrooms, but the honest fact is, they will continue to lose money unless they can appeal to a more affluent clientele.  The traditional low and middle-income students just won’t cut it, but the high-income students often come from families with excellent educations who don’t fall for religious bullshit in the first place.

Is it any wonder that the whole religious infrastructure is failing?  If they cannot keep indoctrinating kids with their nonsense, those kids will not go to their churches, won’t give them money and churches and schools will continue to fail.  The whole system is spiraling into oblivion and personally, I think that’s a very good thing.


10 thoughts on “Catholic Schools Struggle to Survive”

    1. There probably ought to be an international commission on sex abuse, I'm sure the Catholics aren't too happy about being followed around by an official government body.

  1. Well, they’re doing quite well up here. I live in Barrie an hour north of Toronto and in this city of about 125,000 there are four Catholic elementary schools and two Catholic high school and they’re building one more of each. The reason is simple enough. Some years ago the Conservative Premier, William Davis, was in a tough fight for re-election. One campaign promise was for the government to provide full funding for Catholic schools. Sure enough he won re-election and to this day my taxes go to support the Catholic version of education with their emphasis on birth control, abortions and the evils of homosexuality. And, of course, once enacted no politician would be brave enough to rescind this measure. Can we say pissed off boys and girls.

  2. "Of course, the Catholic sex scandal can’t be helping them."

    This has got to be a big part of it, right? It's the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word "catholic", why the hell would I want to send my kids there?
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  3. So many factors could be contributing to this. The church's clergy abuse scandals, homophobia, and retrograde policies on reproductive rights have alienated many believers as the world becomes more enlightened on those issues. People who have been alienated from the church probably won't send their children to Catholic schools or CCD. Cost, as you observed, is another factor.

    However, I also think that changing religious demographics contribute. More and more Catholics are questioning their faith and leaving the fold, and thus they're not sending their children to Catholic schools. Also, the church is dealing with competition from much more savvy Protestant denominations, who actually take the time to cultivate relationships with congregants, foster a sense of community, and make worship services halfway interesting.
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    1. I think it's all part of the same general problem, people are rethinking religion and walking away from it, that means away from the churches and away from the schools. It's just another case where religion is failing. Isn't it great?

    1. I honestly hope so, I think watching the Catholic Church, the largest single Christian denomination, having so many problems and losing so many members, is a positive thing. I think it will be interesting to see what lengths they're willing to go to in order to stop the hemorrhaging or if they'll stick to their guns all the way down.

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