The news that nine borough schools will close sent shock waves from Astoria to Rosedale. The impact will be felt most deeply by the hundreds of families whose children are enrolled in these schools. This includes not only Catholic families but many others of varying faiths or no faith at all who preferred the discipline and standards of these schools to those in the public school system. For many of these families the average $3,000-a-year tuition was a tremendous burden, but it was a sacrifice they were willing to make for the sake of their children.
It is hard to argue with the diocese's rationale for closing the schools. Even with the tuitions, the money just isn't there to sustain the schools. In some cases the diocese is consolidating schools, while others are just closing with no options offered.
The closing of the schools will eventually affect all families living in Queens and Brooklyn. Most of the parents will not be able to afford other forms of private education and will be sending their children to the public schools. Little has been said so far, but it seems that will create an enormous influx of new students into a system that is already overcrowded.
For middle-class families, it will mean there is no longer an affordable alternative to public school education. Hundreds of dedicated teachers and administrators will be looking for work. Government is limited by the separation of church and state in its ability to help and the financial situation of the diocese is not likely to improve in the foreseeable future.
If the doors to these schools close, it is unlikely that they will ever reopen. The people of Queens - people of all religious backgrounds - will lose a valuable choice. The one hope is that those who have benefited from this school system and done well in life will step up to the plate. One doesn't have to be Catholic to realize that these schools are worth saving.
©2005 Community News Group
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