Readers debate Catholic schools plan

March 06, 2010

Here's a sampling of reader responses to the Archdiocese of Baltimore's plan to close 13 schools in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, including Cardinal Gibbons High School. Join the conversation at baltimoresun.com/secondopinion.

Think of the children who relocated to Cardinal Gibbons after the closing of Towson Catholic. As a parent who has already been through this, I find it so sad. Maybe if the archdiocese would reach in their pockets and share a little, there wouldn't be large tuition increases every year, which results in lower attendance.Beth Conway

This is a sad day for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and an even sadder day for the students and teachers who are losing out because of the bad decisions of the powers that be.

Teachers in the Catholic school system accept lower pay than their public school counterparts because they have a vocation to teach in the Catholic school system. The archdiocese is robbing the teachers, the students and the communities of an invaluable resource, an alternative to less desirable public schools, and in many cases, their faith.

When you have parents like the ones at St. Clare's, who have already dealt with this once and are willing to work to keep their school open and you close it down anyway, you are telling them that they don't count, that their efforts don't matter to the church.

We are supposed to take care of our children and our teachers, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore is not doing that. I am especially concerned for the lay faculty and staff - those who accept less money and benefits because they believe in what they are teaching. Nuns and priests will always be taken care of. The lay people are the ones who are going to be hurt most in this travesty. I can't find the words to express how incredibly wrong this decision is.Jules

While everyone agrees that this is a painful decision to live and work through, I have to admire Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien for being proactive.

So many schools are housed in aging buildings with no money for repairs. Parishes have had their own resources drained in subsidizing schools. Tuition costs have continued to increase, with major increases in health care benefits. As it is, teachers are underpaid when compared with public schools. And the archdiocese has put in millions of dollars bailing out schools that year after year have been running major deficits.

While it's certainly an emotional issue, it seems to me that this is a viable approach for long-term survival as well as improvement.

I, for one, don't know what more they could have done. Every parish bulletin ran ads seeking input from parishioners - as well as having it advertised through the schools - with invitations to regional meetings that often were poorly attended.

There simply comes a time when a decision has to be made. No decision at all would certainly quiet the dissenters, but would also lead to a real silence as one would no longer hear the voices of children in our Catholic school classrooms. Jim

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