Action on Religious Schools Urged
"Preserving a Critical National Asset: America’s Disadvantaged Students and the Crisis in Faith-Based Urban Schools"
Following up on a White House summit meeting last spring, the Bush administration has issued a new report highlighting what it describes as the “rapid disappearance of faith-based schools in America’s cities,” and outlining ideas to help shore up the sector.
The White House calls on government at all levels, as well as philanthropies, businesses, universities, community-based groups, and other nonprofit organizations, to step up.
“To leave this grave and mounting challenge unaddressed would be irresponsible,” says the report by the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Citing data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the report says the K-12 faith-based sector lost nearly 1,200 schools and nearly 425,000 students in urban areas from the 1999-2000 to 2005-06 academic years.
The report highlights the Bush administration’s proposal to create a $300 million “Pell Grants for Kids” program, which would provide vouchers for low-income students in “persistently failing public schools” to attend private schools. It also urges private foundations to provide greater financial support for urban private schools serving disadvantaged students.
The report argues for promoting public awareness of urban schools succeeding with disadvantaged students and engaging religious communities to support them. And it suggests that institutions of higher education could do more to develop future teachers and principals for such schools, and holds up as models the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind.; Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.; and Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind.
In April, the Bush administration hosted a White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools for academics, school leaders, public officials, and advocates for religious schools. ("Bush Voices Faith in Religious City Schools," April 30, 2008.)
Vol. 28, Issue 08, Page 5