For years, I worried that I was auditioning to be the Edward Gibbon of urban Catholic schooling, chronicling the decline and fall of an invaluable, sprawling institution.
Inner-city Catholic schools have long provided an incomparable education to millions of low-income kids. But a confluence of factors have caused fifty years of enrollment losses in the millions and school closures in the thousands.
Trying to draw greater attention to the issue, I’ve written blog posts, op-eds, magazine pieces, journal articles, case studies, think tank reports, and government manifestos. But the hemorrhaging continued. Every spring, another diocese would announce the shuttering of another dozen schools.
I was becoming resigned to the fact that these documents would look in hindsight like period pieces from the bygone era of urban Catholic schooling.
But this fall, two new publications will make the case that we may be on the leading edge of a renaissance of inner-city Catholic schooling. I don’t want to steal the reports’ thunder, but here’s a little foreshadowing.
These documents (I’ve co-authored both) detail a wave of Catholic education innovation and entrepreneurialism that we probably haven’t seen since the 1880s, when the nation’s Catholic bishops mandated the creation of thousands of parish schools...