When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Washington, his presence will put the spotlight on the plight of Catholic schools. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute put out “Who Will Save America’s Urban Catholic Schools?” It also notes that Catholic schools are more popular than the pope himself.
“At the very time when all of us are struggling with how to create new good schools in the inner city, we have good schools in the inner city that are closing down,” Fordham’s Michael J. Petrilli tells my colleague Erik Robelen in this Education Week story.
Over at Swift & Changable, Charlie Barone gives a Harper’s Index of private school participation in NCLB’s Title I. The bottom line: Private school officials feel as if school districts are hoarding Title I dollars and services. The numbers tell a similar story.
Those same Catholic school leaders endorse President Bush’s $300 million proposal to give private school choice to students in the lowest-performing schools. But the vouchers won’t solve all of the schools’ problems. As Fordham notes, parochial schools in Milwaukee and the District of Columbia are struggling despite the private school choice programs in those cities.
Increasing federal aid to Catholic schools through Title I or vouchers would help those schools. But, as the Fordham report concludes, the federal government alone can’t “save” Catholic schools.
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.