Wednesday, March 03, 2010

13 Catholic schools slated the close in Baltimore

I am posting a link not to the main article detailing which schools are closing, but to an editorial from the Baltimore Sun giving reasons for hope in this difficult moment for Baltimore Catholic education.

I am following this story closely as I have friends teaching in several of the schools that are closing. These friends will have to find new jobs and doubtless this will be a painful transition for faculty, staff, and students. One of the schools (Cardinal Gibbons) was next door to my old school where I taught, and was a place where I taught summer school. But I also lived next door to St. Rose of Lima, and saw first-hand how badly enrollment had declined and how inefficient the school was. I will be sad to see that school shuttered, but financially it was unsound.

The editorial posted above lists many reasons though to be hopeful in Catholic education in Baltimore. I think that Archbishop O'Brien made a bold and daring move, that ultimately may help shape Catholic education for the better. Catholic schools need to reinvent themselves in order to survive. Our populations and demographics have shifted, and the schools need to change to reflect different needs. We shouldn't be duplicating services or competing with public schools. We have to reflect on what makes us different and unique to offer that public schools can't: our religious values and vigorous religious education. If we are just offering a school that is better than public school alternatives, then when public schools improve (which is a good thing) Catholic school enrollment declines. We have to offer quality education, of course, but we also have to offer something more, something that makes these schools genuinely a mission and a ministry rather than just another school.

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