Posts Tagged ‘Education’

A few words on the Education Investment Tax Credit

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

On Friday the New York Post published an op-ed I wrote on the Education Investment Tax Credit:

The concept of the tax credit is simple, and similar plans have already been passed in 21 other states and the District of Columbia.

Donors would be encouraged to contribute to scholarship funds for private schools, or to donate to support public schools, for which they would receive a credit on their tax returns…

Gov. Cuomo told us he supported the bill, as did Senate leader Dean Skelos. Eighty-eight members of the Assembly had signed on as co-sponsors. It had overwhelming support in the state Senate. We were assured that passage would be a “no-brainer.”

Read the rest here.

Also Friday the New York State Catholic Conference released the following statement on the proposed credit:

“Along with Catholic school families across the state, we are deeply disappointed and angry at the failure to pass an Education Investment Tax Credit, which would have generated needed scholarships to help families afford parochial schools, yeshivas and other non-public schools, as well as benefitted public schools and all teachers.”

Read the rest of the statement here.

We are not giving up!

Save Our Schools

Friday, May 30th, 2014

We haven’t let up in our efforts to pass the Education Investment Tax Credit bill.  My thanks to Bill McGurn in today’s Post for his support.  Here’s an excerpt:

Why does this matter to others? It matters because a child who attends a Catholic school is much likelier to finish high school and attend college than his or her public-school counterpart.

In Buffalo, for example, 99 percent of Catholic high school students graduate — more than twice the 47 percent rate for public-school students. Ninety-eight percent of the Catholic-school students go on to college.

Meanwhile, fewer than 10 percent of Buffalo public-school students leave high school ready for college.

Earlier this year, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stressed to The New York Times how especially vital these Catholic schools are to people of color or little means — and why she was so “heartbroken” to learn her own alma mater, Blessed Sacrament High School in The Bronx, is shutting down:

“It’s symbolic of what it means for all our families, like my mother, who were dirt-poor. She watched what happened to my cousins in public school and worried if we went there, we might not get out. So she scrimped and saved. It was a road of opportunity for kids with no other alternative.”

Translation: If access to a decent education is indeed the civil-rights issue of our day, Catholic schools play an irreplaceable role in New York.

You can read the full article here.

Bigotry and Catholic Education

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

My thanks to Seth Lipsky at the New York Post for his insightful article, Time to end NY’s anti-Catholic bigotry:

The proposed credit is tiny compared to the estimated $22 billion for pre-k through grade 12 in the state’s education budget. It would start at $180 million in the first year and then $225 million and $300 million. However modest in comparative cost, it would be a help, particularly to families of limited means with pupils in religious day schools…

Our credit is shaken, but not by the priests, rabbis and imams. The poor laborer is strangled by public employees who have a better deal than he could ever get — and a quarter of a trillion dollars in unfunded state pension obligations. Isn’t it time to make it easier for religious schools to help educate our children?

Read the rest here.

Our Precious Catholic Schools

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

It’s Catholic Schools’ Week.

With what we’ve just been through, some might think that we’d more appropriately observe it the week of All Souls’ Day, or Memorial Day, both occasions when we remember the dead!

Last week’s sad closings could lead some to conclude that our beloved Catholic Schools are dying, or, to repeat the term I’ve used before, that our excellent schools are in hospice, a terminal patient we’re just trying to keep comfortable until they pass away.

Not so!

Jesus observed that a vine must be pruned if it is to continue providing good fruit.

Our precious Catholic schools are a vine that produces exquisite fruit: the best academics; a safe, secure, loving, disciplined atmosphere; an emphasis on faith, virtue, and character.

This vine must be pruned. This hurts. To be blunt, if we did not close some of our splendid schools now, pretty soon we’d be close to shutting them all down.

The schools we now have, after the somber decision to close the twenty-four last week, will be fuller, even better, and more financially sound. Thus, please God, we should not have any more long lists of closings in the future.

Thus, our schools are not in hospice, but in the recovery room, with a future filled with health, vitality, confidence, quality, and hope.

This hardly takes away the sting from the children, teachers, parents, priests, and parishioners of the schools that have to close, all of which, by the way, were first rate schools. They didn’t have to close because they were academically inferior — quite the contrary — but because they were at low enrollment, and were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In fact, last year alone the archdiocese gave these schools $8,323,689 just to stay open. We don’t have that kind of money!

Thanks to all those who now mourn, who struggled so hard to keep their good schools going.

Not that our schools are just a business. Not so! None of them make money! If we only kept schools open which were in the black, we’d have none.

Our parishes, benefactors, and the archdiocese will always have to — and want to — support our schools. It’s just that we have to use the money of God’s people wisely, not on schools that are losing children every year, and show no signs of financial stability, or an increase in enrollment.

And there’s our main challenge: to increase enrollment! Each of the schools that grimly have to close could have remained open if more parents had sent their children there.

And, we must re-double our efforts to make sure we follow through on our pledge to provide a Catholic education to any child who seeks one, particularly those whose schools will close in June. We have placement counselors available in all the regions of the archdiocese, ready and eager to assist parents in learning about the other schools in their area, so that they can make the best choice for their children. What’s important, these counselors will remind the parents, is not that their child attend Catholic school in a particular building, but that their child attend a Catholic school, particularly one that looks forward to welcoming new students (and they all do), that has high academic standards and a record of achievement (and they all do), and provides a solid formation in the faith (and they all better!). Two years ago, when we had our first round of school closings, nearly two-thirds of the children were re-enrolled in other nearby Catholic schools. Not bad, especially when you consider that in the past we were happy if we got 50% to move to another Catholic school. With experience, we’re hoping to do even better this time around.

Why would Catholic parents not send their children to a Catholic school? Beats me. But, we better find out.

Remember the days of waiting lists and jammed classrooms? What happened?

One hears an abundance of replies: Catholic schools cost too much; the public schools in my area aren’t that bad; the school in my parish is hardly Catholic at all. Add to that our society’s de-emphasis of religion, and the decimation of the intact Catholic culture of five decades ago, and I guess we have a buffet of reasons.

Yet, the fact remains: in academic excellence, preparation for life, and formation in the faith, for all their worries, nobody does it better than Catholic schools.

Pardon the cliché, but that’s why we want to change the mourning into morning.

Our strategy is clear:

. . . Catholic schools are our “pearl of great price”;

. . . we will struggle and sacrifice not only to see that they survive but that they flourish;

. . . to do so, we can’t do “business as usual”;

. . . our system of Catholic schools may be a bit leaner than before, but it is stonger;

. . . every Catholic, every parish, must support a school;

. . . our schools will remain A+, accessible, and, affordable.

Happy Catholic Schools’ Week!

Funding for Catholic Education

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Richard Riordan, the founding president of the Los Angeles Catholic Education Foundation, announced a new campaign to raise $100 million for Catholic schools in the Los Angeles area.  Riordan wrote an insightful article in the Wall Street Journal last week about  the importance of funding for  Catholic education.  I would like to share it with you. Here is an excerpt:

Catholic schools shaped my spiritual, intellectual and social growth. This included grammar school (where I got a very good education despite having 55 students in my classroom), high school and then college. I remember vividly my third-grade teacher reading to us for a half-hour every day. It started me on a lifelong love of reading. I remember the ethic of service the nuns and lay teachers instilled in me. I was taught that the poor were not to be pitied—they wanted only to be given the opportunity to succeed. And the fortunate had an obligation to help.

So why are Catholic schools the answer to our urban education woes? Aren’t charter schools beginning to help this underserved population? Charter schools are an amazing development, and I’ve chaired the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and the Inner City Education Foundation, both charter advocacy organizations. But not everyone will be able to attend charter schools because the capacity isn’t there.

You can read the whole article here.