By day – Don’t let the inner city Catholic schools shut down

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Former Catholic cardinal Theodore McCarrick faces trial for sexual assault on a 16-year-old boy. He is the only current or former US cardinal to be charged with child sex crimes. The Catholic Church has paid millions of dollars to settle such cases for decades. I would argue that the collateral damage for inner city children (black and Hispanic) could be at least as damaging, in a completely different way, as cases of pedophilia.

The Archdiocese of Hartford has paid more than $ 50 million to settle allegations of abuse against dozens of its priests. The Archdiocese admitted in a financial statement that such payments were interfering with its ability to provide other services. Among its major assets are the school buildings.

Connecticut could be on the verge of ending Catholic school choice for inner-city high school students with just one such school, Kolbe Cathedral.

Imagine if the state’s public schools denied children in inner city neighborhoods the opportunity to get an education but allowed students in white communities to have that opportunity. The whole nation would be outraged. Now imagine that the villain in this scenario is a very unlikely institution: the Catholic Church and its Catholic schools. The church allows white communities to have an opportunity at a Catholic school in neighborhood high schools while denying the same opportunity to black and Hispanic students by closing all of its Catholic high schools in downtown Connecticut. This could rightly be characterized as discriminatory.

Much of it started with the systematic closure of Catholic primary schools near the Catholic high school in the city center. This allowed for a self-fulfilling prophecy with the downtown high school, which was set on a predictable path toward declining enrollment. That’s what happened at Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury, my alma mater. Its doors were closed for the first time in 100 years despite the efforts of alumni and the community, who offered financial support to keep the school open.

The record is clear. After the closure of seven downtown Catholic high schools, there will be only one Catholic high school in Connecticut that will not be part of an affluent white community. Schools can try to split up like Southern schools did in the 20th century, which prompted the Brown v. Board of Education. But like Bob Jones University in the 1980s, which also tolerated discriminatory practices, these schools cannot be allowed to receive federal funding and, in most states, state funding.

Graduation rates in Catholic schools in Connecticut are much higher than in most downtown public schools. The prospects for college scholarships are much better in Catholic schools, and the values ​​that a Catholic high school education offers are also superior – in my opinion.

For example, blacks and Hispanics account for the majority of abortions in America. I think the abortion rate would be much lower for those who attended a Catholic high school. I also suspect that the incarceration rate for former students of inner-city public schools would be much higher than for graduates of inner-city Catholic high schools.

Yet Catholic high schools for children in inner city Connecticut are on the verge of disappearing, soon to become a memory and a thing of the past, ending the choice of Catholic schools for high school students in inner cities.

Connecticut is not an aberration. Catholic schools in the city center have closed across the country.

There are several thousand blacks and Hispanics who have benefited from a Catholic education. We all owe a part of our success in life to this opportunity. As perhaps the first black product of a Catholic high school to enter Congress, I find the Catholic Church’s raising of the “ladder of opportunity” on millions of other blacks and Hispanics very disheartening. .

Pray that something positive can happen. We must not hurt those who need help the most.

Gary Franks is a former U.S. Representative from Connecticut and Visiting / Assistant Professor at Hampton University, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia. He is now a public policy consultant and columnist.


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