The City of Angels seeks angels for Catholic schools

Got a hundred million bucks to spare?  The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has a good way to use it, with an ambitious plan to support its schools.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Dwindling enrollment and other challenges have decimated urban Catholic schools nationwide, but a high-profile initiative to raise $100 million in tuition assistance may allow thousands of children to continue attending schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and save those schools from extinction.

The initiative, headed by former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, will ask supporters to make provisions in their trusts or wills for the archdiocese’s Catholic Education Foundation, which already awards thousands of grants annually to needy students. Riordan was the founding president of the foundation in 1987 and is a longtime supporter of education-related causes.

It is estimated that the two-year campaign will aid an additional 5,000 students annually, said Kathleen Anderson, the foundation’s executive director.

“We have so many kids that need to be supported in our Catholic schools, and they don’t have the financial means because their parents are living below the poverty line,” Anderson said.

The foundation awarded 7,300 grants for the current academic year, but there are 9,000 students on waiting lists, Anderson said.

The new initiative will help schools like Immaculate Conception Catholic School, a storied 93-year-old institution in the low-income Westlake neighborhood west of downtown, where paying for a parochial education is a struggle for many.

About 238 families at the school applied for tuition assistance, but only about half received grants, even though the others also met income qualifications, Principal Mary Ann Murphy said. Annual tuition is $2,820. The school reduces the amount for some low-income students and allows some parents to provide in-kind services in lieu of tuition.

“If we didn’t have the support of the foundation, I’m not sure we would be able to stay in operation,” Murphy said. “Students in Pico Westlake are very low-income, with parents that are working two or three jobs to afford tuition, which can be 10[%] to 15% of their overall income.”

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Comments

  1. Bless Mayor Riordan, this is such a needed thing. Religious schooling is one of those things that distinguish us from the Europeans and keeps us from being the secular wasteland that Europe has become.

  2. It is encouraging to see a private initiative to rise money independent from government funding. Hopefully many kids that can’t afford Catholic schooling can be given the opportunity with this project. I think other dioceses across country could launch similar efforts.

  3. Richard Johnson says:

    As the economic situation worsens I suspect more and more parochial schools will be faced with this challenge. I hope they are all able to find generous benefactors in their time of need.

  4. As these schools close, it puts ever more students into failing public school monopoly tied up by unions from any form of competition. It would be great for all the kids if the parent got funds which could only be used for school, and they had a choice of schools from a wide group. This would be a great equalizer for all the kids throughout the state. The parent could choose a secular school or a religious based school to insure that freedom of religion is not infringed in any way. Competiton between schools would insure the best result for all kids.

  5. Richard Johnson says:

    Greta #4: “Competiton between schools would insure the best result for all kids.”

    Well…maybe not.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/41868652.html

    (A report on the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program)

    “The primary finding in all of these comparisons is that there is no overall statistically significant difference between MPCP (voucher) and MPS student achievement growth in either math or reading one year after they were carefully matched to each other.”

    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094050/pdf/20094051.pdf

    (A report on the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program)

    “After 3 years, there was a statistically significant positive impact on reading test scores, but not math test scores. Overall, those offered a scholarship were performing
    at statistically higher levels in reading equivalent to 3.1 months of additional learning but at similar levels in math compared to students not offered a scholarship
    (table 3). Analysis in prior years indicated no significant impacts overall on either reading or math achievement.

    • The OSP had a positive impact overall on parents’ reports of school satisfaction and safety (figures 3 and 4), but not on students’ reports (figures 3 and 4). Parents
    were more satisfied with their child’s school (as measured by the percentage giving the school a grade of A or B) and viewed their child’s school as safer and more orderly if
    the child was offered a scholarship. Students had a different view of their schools than did their parents. Reports of safety and school climate were comparable for students in
    the treatment and control groups. Overall, student satisfaction was unaffected by the Program. ”

    There are numerous similar studies which consistently show that the gains from such voucher/choice programs are minimal at best, non-existent in most cases. When you also consider that, in the case of the Milwaukee program, the voucher/scholarship schools did not have to serve all-comers, a luxury the public schools did not have, then it is even more alarming that there was so little evidenced gain in the scholarship schools.

    Honestly, it’s a testimony to the Milwaukee Public Schools that they were able to hold their own against a private school that could essentially cherry-pick students that did not require special education assistance.

  6. Many Catholic schools have closed in Providence and surrounding areas due to lack of students. Parents can’t afford to pay. Fortunately the school I taught in is still open—and with 28 kids in kindergarden —and large classes all the way to 8th. Only 1 class per grade now. When I started there were 2 classes of each grade, but the principal slowly reduced it to one each. They seem to be getting the kids who would have gone to the ones that closed.

  7. Richard, Not sure this program in Milwaukee is all that representative of what I advocated. It is interesting to note that the voucher program is saving $37 million a year overall because less public money is spent on educating voucher children than MPS children. So, what would happen if they spent the same amount per student in the voucher schools as the public? Also noted that the increased regulations stated that schools who accepted vouchers had to accept any students with vouchers in the same area so no real cherry picking there that I can see. Also, it would be interesting to see the results of the public schools for the 5 years before vouchers and if they improved when they had competition. I would be they did.

    America is built on competition. Opening it up to full competiton and getting government out of the way will be good for kids. Instead of any money flowing to Washington for education and then getting sucked into the Dept of Education, all funds should remain in the states. Let the states set up the education program they want for the kids in their own state.

    Never understood why competition is good for universities where kids get funds and choose their college, but for the grade schools and high schools it is a monopoly. Each year, kids in the public schools fall further behind those in parochial schools and yet the left wants to force kids into the monopoly and teachers unions. SAD.

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