A reader seeks your thoughts on Catholic High Schools

I don’t have any kids in Catholic school and never have, so I can’t offer anything intelligent here. Maybe you can. A reader writes:

Hi Mark,
I just found an article you wrote on NFP. Saw you a men’s conference in Worchester a couple of years ago. Was searching the internet because something was/is bothering me and I have a question for you. A little background first- my wife and I have four children. Our two oldest are in college, the other two are in public HS.

I teach CCD at my parish, 9th grade class of 13 students making their Confirmation this year. Three of the students attend the local Catholic HS, the remaining ten attend public school. My wife and I decided not to send our own children to the local Catholic HS, they attend public school. It was a tough decision, but the cost of ($11K x4x4) $176K was too much. I had inquired with the school for what kind of financial aid we might expect with 4 based on our income, but had really gotten no where.

In the first class this week the students that attend the local Catholic HS joked that half (I think they did exaggerate) of the students at the local CHS were not Catholic, and if you are good at sports or are super smart you get accepted right away. I felt vindicated in a sort of strange way for thinking I made the right decision not to send my children there, and I was (am) angry. What these 3 students did not add, but I have observed, is that middle class families with more than 2 children just don’t get to attend Catholic HS. It’s too expensive. This is all very strange, my wife and I have done everything right, we have been open to life. It’s also very strange because when I attended the school the norm was 3-4-5 or six children! I have also observed something else, having attended the school 30 years ago and been receiving alumni updates on an annual basis: the family sizes are much smaller, 1 or 2 children. It seems the school pushes students to attend big schools, that require big loans and debt, some get big jobs, but all have few children. The big schools get them their big reputation, which get them more high paying students. I escaped that, and I want my children to escape that too. And what if they don’t want to go to college but want to acquire a trade after HS, don’t children have a right to a catholic education regardless of whether they are college bound or not!

I can think of four ways to “fix” this problem:
1. I read of a diocese in the mid-west that has everyone pay the same percentage of their income (TBD) when attending the school. If you make 50K then say 10% or 5K. If you make 150k then 15K. They have said it builds a sense of community. I agree. It would.
2. The fourth child is free. (More then 3 is free.)
3. Have parents teach a class. Many parents could teach one class in their work area. (I could teach any kind of math.)
4. All the students at this CHS now have an IPAD and wireless internet at home. All books are on the IPAD.
a. How about an alternating cycle of two weeks of time at the school in class, and one week of home school attending class over the internet. That would allow the school to house 1/3 more students at any given time, decreasing the cost of tuition dramatically.

I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we think of catholic HS, otherwise the future is more of what I have stated above, and less of what it should be.
CHS should be part of the community, especially for the faithful, and not elitist. It should be apart from this world, not taken by it.
What are your thoughts?

He then adds later:

Another option would be to expand CCD to include all of the high school years. The carrot on the stick paradigm for confirmation would need to change, but it would surely be worth it.

The Bishops came out with a document that outlines this recently, http://old.usccb.org/education/framework.pdf . Unfortunately it’s only for those who can afford 11K per year, not by decree, but by place of schooling implemented.

As things stand now most Catholic high schooled children only receive an 8th or 9th grade education up until confirmation.

Then they go on for bachelor and master degrees in non eternal subjects (!) and are swayed by the culture.

Not a winning strategy.

Anyone? Bueller?

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