Recently I spoke to another principal of a Catholic school that was closing its doors. Once a light of the neighborhood this school will close for good.
Unfortunately, this scene plays out monthly across the U.S. For every charter school that opens, one-third or more of its students will come from parochial schools. This helped in the decline of Catholic schools by 16 percent and the decline of non-denominational Christian schools by 10 percent.
Locally, Allen County has suffered from a lack of school choices due to growth of charters in the name of school choice. Timothy L. Johnson Academy, Imagine School on Broadway and Imagine MASTer Academy have led to the closings of Bethlehem Lutheran School, Zion Lutheran School, Keystone Christian School, Benoit Catholic School and St. John s ELCA School. Three charter schools led to the death of five schools. Schools that assisted poor and minority youth not only learn the three Rs, but learn to be honest, caring and responsible, the soft skills that carry young men and women, especially those of color, into leadership positions.
As charter schools have raced to beat the test, they have helped to increase the tax burden to more than $15 million. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports from 2005 to 2009, approximately 1,500 Allen County students have left private schools to enroll in public or charter schools. In 2005, 12,094 students or 18.6 percent were enrolled in private schools. In 2007, the opening of Imagine MASTer Academy, the number of students enrolled in private schools dropped to 11,600 or 17.7 percent of the student population. In 2009, the opening of Imagine on Broadway, the number of students dropped to a five-year low of 10,507 or 16.1 percent of the total student population.
Catholic schools have traditionally taught a more robust curriculum than charter school rivals. This robust curriculum includes religion, philosophy, arts, music, physical education, science and social studies. The result is a child can think, create and innovate. On the other hand, charter schools teach an often narrowed curriculum focusing only on math and reading basics. The result of a charter school education is a graduate who has been drilled with useless facts and knows how to fill in bubbles.
Catholic schools not only create choice at the K-12 levels, but at the college levels, especially for minorities. Nationally, 98 percent of minorities who attend Catholic schools graduate with both high school diplomas and college degrees.
Only 60 percent of minority youth who attend a charter school will graduate from high school. Recent studies show that the best charter schools produce few college graduates.
St. Joseph Catholic School in Monroeville creates school choice. If a charter school opens in Monroeville with 250 students, at least an estimated 83 students will come from private and parochial schools, leading to the death of St. Joseph Catholic School and other nearby parochial schools.
Parochial schools are free to choose their own accountability systems and limited responsibility with the government, and create their own funding systems. Locally, Canterbury Lower School eschews the ISTEP+ for its own internal testing.
Nationally, parochial schools are able to forgo state accreditation. Gallup Catholic School, under the authority of the Diocese of Gallup, N.M., is accredited by the North Central Advanced Accreditation Services rather than the New Mexico Department of Public Education.
In the best interest of school choice, St. Joseph Catholic School shall be able to purchase and operate within the confines of Monroeville Elementary School. With its robust curriculum, adherence to Catholic morals and values, and true ability to choose its affiliation with the state, parents are given true choice.