Enrollment in Catholic schools has plummeted, Alia Wong reports in the Atlantic:
Today, the number of students who attend Catholic schools (roughly 1.8 million children) is fewer than half of what it was half a century ago, according to an analysis of federal data published in the latest issue of Education Next. The National Catholic Education Association says that more than 100 Catholic schools were consolidated or closed altogether during the 2017-2018 year alone.
What is responsible for the decline? Ms. Wong's explanation:
A number of factors are contributing to the phasing-out of Catholic schools. One is a drop in the number of clergy members, who historically taught for relatively low wages. Second are the Church's sex-abuse scandals, whose financial ramifications have undermined its ability to operate schools. In addition, demographic shifts such as falling birth rates, the growing concentration of black and Hispanic families in the bottom tier of the country's income distribution, and a decline in religiosity among Americans, combined with the rise of charter schools, have led to lower enrollment in parochial education.
Not mentioned is the increasing political power of public-school teachers' unions, who have been able to bargain for increases in real wages. When an experienced New York City (let alone suburban) public school teacher is making more than $100,000 a year, with health insurance and retirement benefits and summers and school vacations off, it becomes harder for the parochial schools to compete for teacher talent without access to taxpayer funds to pay the salaries. Non-Orthodox Jewish day schools, which never relied on nuns as teachers and which haven't had Catholic-scale sex-abuse scandals, are suffering from similar enrollment declines.