CNA Staff, Jul 31, 2020 / 12:00 pm
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is appealing to the Congressional Black Caucus to support families who opt to send their children to non-public schools, including Catholic schools. The letter comes as an estimated 500 Catholic schools are at risk of closing.
The letter was addressed to Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the chairman of the Congressional Black Congress, and was signed by Bishop Michael Barber, SJ of Oakland, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and Bishop Joseph Perry, an auxiliary bishop of Chicago.
Barber is the chairman of the USCCB’s committee on Catholic education; Fabre leads the USCCB’s ad hoc committee against racism; and Perry is the head of the subcommittee on Afircan American Affairs.
After noting that public schools have requested an additional $300 billion in the next coronavirus aid package, the bishops asked that “families of non-public schools be considered as part of the comprehensive needs of K12 education, since non-public students represent ten percent of the K12 student population.”
The bishops requested that 10% of what is given to public schools “be directed specifically to the non-public school community to provide direct aid to families in the form of means-tested scholarships.”
The bishops noted that Catholic schools in urban areas primarily serve minority students, and that these schools are at increased risk of closure due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. In the Archdiocese of New York, where 20 schools are not re-opening in the fall, 91% of students enrolled at inner-city Catholic schools are minorities. Nearly three out of every four students at inner-city Catholic schools in New York live at or below the federal poverty line.
These schools, they said, benefit their students and need to remain open.
“Catholic education has played a significant role in lifting many from poverty to a more hopeful future,” they said, citing research indicating that Catholic schools “close the achievement gap in low-income neighborhoods.”