May 20, 2006


Won’t Someone Stop This Tragedy?: Bloomberg’s education campaign is driving Gotham’s Catholic schools out of business. (Sol Stern, 18 April 2006, City Journal)

Something precious in the lives of many deserving New Yorkers is slowly dying in Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s glittering city. The New York Catholic Archdiocese recently announced that it would close 14 schools, following on last year’s announcement by the Archdiocese of Brooklyn that it would shutter 22 of its schools in Brooklyn and Queens. Located in some of Gotham’s neediest neighborhoods, these schools have served for over a century as a haven for low-income but striving families. Many of the predominantly minority children in those closed schools will now have to attend failing public schools.

The school closings result in part from the inexorable laws of competition. No, I don’t mean that the Catholic schools have fallen behind in the areas of academic achievement or classroom productivity. Quite the contrary. Catholic schools still deliver a far bigger bang for the education buck than the public schools. For example, in last year’s state reading and math tests for 4th and 8th graders, Catholic school students scored from 7 percent to 10 percent higher than their public school counterparts. And the Catholic high school graduation rate is nearly double that of the public high schools. Moreover, Catholic schools deliver these stellar results with per-pupil expenditures remaining about a fourth of the costs of the public schools.

In a truly competitive education world—one, that is, where taxpayer money followed children to their school of choice—the Catholic school sector would be thriving financially as well as academically, prodding the public schools to do better. But with no vouchers or tuition tax credits in place, the Catholic schools are finding it harder and harder to compete financially with an insatiable public school monopoly, ever more expansive under mayoral control. The city’s Department of Education budget now tops $17 billion, or about $15,000 per pupil. This spending growth has allowed Mayor Bloomberg to raise teacher’s salaries by 33 percent. The top public school salary of $93,000 is now double that of the highest paid Catholic schoolteacher. (When I first started writing about Catholic schools ten years ago the salary gap was a “mere” 60 percent.) To try to keep teachers from leaving for the public system, the Catholic schools have had to boost salaries, too, forcing up tuition and putting the squeeze on their low-income families. According to the Brooklyn Archdiocese, average tuition in its schools has risen from $1,659 in 1992 to $3,000 in 2004. This increase has already resulted in an outflow of thousands of low-income families to the public schools.

It's too bad that Democrats care so little about the children of their constituents that they prefer to protect union jobs at the expense of better, cheaper educations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2006 6:00 AM

They're winning OJ. 1000s more kids in their intellectual death camps. $1,000,000s more for the piggish bureaucracy.

Dems and Republican alike, too afraid to attack the only entity to blame (Big Education & Big Unions)

Doped white suburban mice thinking their schools are better, so it's all OK.

No one is winning in any fight against them, and they have the $$ to purchase both parties.

It's time to buy land in rural areas and/or another country, and watch it all slide into the abyss.

Posted by: Bruno at May 20, 2006 10:58 AM


No, most white middle class schools are quite good, that's the problem. Who cares if the inner city kids are stuck if Democrats don't?

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2006 11:13 AM

The strange part about New York City schools, at least as far as the high school level goes, is that there are so many specialized schools, running the gammut from academic, to arts, to agriculture, to maratime or law enforcement training, that the ordinary district high schools are almost an afterthought, and in many cases, simply dumping grounds for kids who either couldn't get into the other schools or simply don't know in their mid-teen years what they want to do with their lives. Those are the students who'd probably benefit if the city would just turn the district schools over to the New York Catholic Archdiocese.

Posted by: John at May 20, 2006 12:28 PM

oj. You often say that white middle class schools are good. Perhaps in Hanover they are, but it's certainly not the case everywhere or even anywhere where special circumstances don't apply.

In upscale suburban communities where parents are united and have the leverage of putting their kids in private school, they can strong-arm the public school administration into doing their bidding, but most communities people are at the mercy of the teachers unions.

Posted by: erp at May 20, 2006 2:14 PM


Polling demonstrates otherwise.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2006 4:04 PM

Polling may say that parents are satisfied with their neighborhood schools, but that doesn't make them good in the sense that they are preparing students to become contributing adults in a complex world. It only means the parents themselves, products of the same system, aren't in a position to judge.

Posted by: erp at May 20, 2006 5:29 PM

Yes, it does.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2006 5:58 PM

The same polls show that people want cheap gasoline and hate trains.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 20, 2006 6:25 PM

If only folks hated cars as much as they like public schools:

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2006 7:26 PM

The telling numbers in that poll are how much better people think their local schools are than the nation's schools as a whole. That's why they won't support vouchers. It's exactly like people's opinion of their congressman, a powerful fighter bringing federal money back home for the good of the community, as opposed to everyone else's congressmen, who are corrupt pork-barrelling thieves.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 21, 2006 12:11 PM

And what do any of us care if poor black kids get a crappy education?

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2006 12:17 PM

oj. You seem to be saying that public schools are satisfactory because a majority of parents in a Gallup poll are satisfied with them?

If this is indeed your position, why do you support school vouchers?

Posted by: erp at May 21, 2006 12:20 PM


Because black kids in the inner city ought to be able to go to good schools too and because parents who choose parochial school oughtn't have to pay for public schools.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2006 12:27 PM

I thought polls show parents are satisfied with their local schools. Why wouldn't that include Black parents as well?

Posted by: erp at May 22, 2006 9:31 AM

Because their schools aren't good. That's why support for vouchers is high among blacks.

Posted by: oj at May 22, 2006 9:35 AM

Please excuse me. I need to put a cold compress on my head.

Posted by: erp at May 22, 2006 10:54 AM