Systematically Promote Instruments of Policy that Expand Parental Choice for Low-Income Families
Incredibly, the most tragic element of this crisis is not that almost to 3/4 of a million children have been removed from their families’ faith-based schools of choice in the last ten years. Rather, it is the fact that these families – and millions more like them – have been systematically denied the educational opportunity that is their birthright simply on the basis of their socioeconomic status. This issue, while often framed in terms of a financing crisis, is actually a social justice crisis; a crisis rooted in our national failure to provide low-income parents with access to quality faith-based educational options.
As proponents of faith-based education and advocates of the proposition that parents and families are the primary educators of their children, we must take immediate, aggressive, and collective action to assert the educational rights of these families. In partnership with organizations such as the American Center for School Choice, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Alliance for School Choice, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options, we must develop a strategy for advancing those instruments of law and policy that will make parental choice a reality.
Likewise, we should work with our schools to ensure that they receive their pro-rata portion of state and federal education funding to which they are entitled, an enterprise that Notre Dame’s ACE Consulting initiative has recently taken on. Research indicates that unnecessary administrative impediments and chronic understaffing have caused Catholic schools to leave approximately $500 million in allocated educational funds unused on an annual basis. As a matter of both financial viability and educational equality, this situation represents a discouraging illustration of educational inequality, and we must work with policy makers and school leaders to forge a systemic response.