The next person who attempts to blame what's going on to schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on the abuse scandal might find themselves on the opposite end of the "Charitable Catholic" patience spectrum I've been working so hard at perfecting.
I realize that for most folks the HHS mandate is the big news right now (as well it should be). For those of us in Philadelphia, though, the massive closings / layoffs / restructuring still takes the cake... especially as deadlines are right around the corner and every day brings new preparations for the shuffling of students from one school to the next to "acquaint" them with what is to come.
Anyway, since this is still the topic of conversation for many in the area, I was bombarded with it after Mass. Then when I got home, I saw it rear its ugly head on Facebook, too. I really should've just allowed it to roll on by, but something snapped in me and I went off the deep end.
I am SO tired of folks attempting to blame the closings on abuse litigation. I mean, are you absolutely out of your mind? As someone who has worked within the Catholic school system, as someone who was taught by the Catholic school system, and as someone who still has many, MANY family and friends still within this system's gears, I know the nitty gritty of Philadelphia's Catholic education... and let me tell you something - it ain't pretty.
I remember a few years ago substituting for both third and seventh grade. They were still using the SAME TEXTBOOKS I used when I was a kid. I graduated elementary school in 1997. How shameful is that?
Desks were mostly broken and had more graffiti than I care to admit. Though mostly clean, bathrooms always had at least one broken toilet and several broken stall-doors. Parts of the floor / wall were chipped, and the ceiling? Oh Lord, let's not even get me started on the ceiling. Even the outside of the school was littered with glass, drug paraphernalia, trash and weeds.
And teachers - oh, our Catholic school teachers. First of all, they simply don't get paid enough. They don't. As a result, they come fresh outta college with their fancy degrees with no experience. Once they do a stint of 1-3 years at our schools to gain their experience, they ship themselves off to public schools where they'll find a decent wage. We, again, have to settle for fresh-faced college kinds instead of finding and keeping truly gifted teachers.
Our education suffers, and enrollment slips.
Then you've got the all-around lack-luster faith we present our families. Catholicism in our communities is a dying art. Folks are only Catholic on Sundays... and barely even then. As a result, our enrollment dwindles even further.
Toss in a complete misappropriation of funds, a failure to collect tuition, and an administration that is so scared of expelling problem students because they'd lose "tuition" causes the cycle to swallow itself yet again.
Not a one of these things has to do with abuse allegations. We should've been shuttering half these schools years ago, but our previous Archbishops were simply unwilling to do what would have been a highly unpopular (though painfully necessary) thing. If they'd've closed some of these floundering schools a decade or two ago, it would have stymied this almost unbearable desecration of Catholic education we currently face.
But sure - let's keep on blaming the abuse litigation. Let's keep crying "They're closing our schools so they can pay the victims!" That nonsense only serves to blow smoke in the face of the REAL issues. I sincerely pray that those in charge don't have the same asnine view on this as these folks do. We need good, strong, intelligent people who can sift through the problems so they can find REAL solutions.
Ugh - seriously... I have a headache. This level of stupidity absolutely astounds me.