The D.C. Public Charter School Board unanimously approved a proposal to reconstitute next fall seven financially struggling Catholic schools as secular charter schools, thereby increasing the number of D.C. charters by more than 10 percent. The switch will save the schools from closing, but will it save their Catholic character? Gadfly argued last year that allowing them to become charters while still retaining their Catholic flavor, a proposition seemingly legitimized by the Supreme Court in 2002, would make sense. But barring that: Much of the parochial-school success story has less to do with religion, per se, and more to do with a disciplined pedagogical style that emphasizes a broad-based liberal arts curriculum. We're not pleased when Catholic schools are stripped of their religious character, but there's still reason to believe that these newly ordained charters can flourish.
"7 Catholic Schools in D.C. Set to Become Charters," by Bill Turque, Washington Post, June 17, 2008