William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal on the success of Catholic schools during these pandemic times, and also how they can offer opportunities to all students failed by public schools both during and before the pandemic.
The National Catholic Education Association reports that its schools boast a total enrollment of 1,626,291. In ordinary times their teachers do an extraordinary job, especially for their poor and minority students. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “Catholic schools have been a pipeline to opportunity” for people like her—poor, Latina, raised by a single mom. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Catholic-school administrators have moved heaven and earth to keep their classrooms open to new generations of Sotomayors.
“The science is clear that there is no substitute for in-person learning, especially for poor and minority children most at danger of falling behind,” says Tom Carroll, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. “Across the nation, the Catholic school approach is to stay open wherever we are allowed.”
This paragraph is telling:
“I can date the change in Massachusetts,” says Mr. Carroll. “We were facing a drop of more than 5,000 students. But when the three teachers unions in the state announced they wanted a delayed opening and remote learning, our phones started ringing off the hook.” Alas, not everyone can afford the Catholic option even though the tuitions they charge are relatively modest.
When Montgomery County attempted to block private schools from re-opening, it had absolutely nothing to do with genuine concerns about safety. The public school monopoly feared what indeed did happen – parents with options would place their children in private schools.
Private schools in this area have been open since September, and there have been almost no COVID breakouts that I am aware of. Meanwhile, public school students in the area might get to go back before the summer.
Thank God for Catholic schools, or who knows how many additional children would have been stuck with another year of distance “learning.”