Thirty years ago there was a good amount of people from religious orders, who were subsidized by their religious orders to be in teaching and in school administration. They also had a strong moral authority with their collars on and in their habits. In effect, there was highly skilled, free labor. Now Catholic schools are having to go to the laity more [for staff], and that raises their expenses.
Where does this hurt the most? In the urban, inner-city schools with lots of Latinos, African Americans, and Asians. And with the parishes not as able to subsidize them, their business model is challenged. So they are raising prices, getting closer to the prices at the private schools.
I believe that public education is a civil right, and that public education should be for everybody. But I also think that Catholic education is a good thing to have in the total environment of education -- alternatives in the middle between public schools and private schools. Catholic schools are still considerably cheaper. In Oakland, the Catholic high schools is about $10 or $12,000 per year, while the better private highs are about $24,000.
Bob Uyeki, Y&H Soda Foundation, Moraga, California
The Y&H Soda Foundation includes Catholic elementary education in its funding priorities.