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What’s the Plan for Catholic Children in America?

In the late 1800s, K-12 education became compulsory in the United States.

Take a minute and let that sink in.

Before the 1800s, K-12 education was not compulsory. Most children did not go to school, but remained with their parents and relatives, working in or around their homes. Some children were sent to trusted friends or relatives for apprenticeships or private education. They weren’t required to go to school–at all. In the late 1800s, this changed–and American culture changed.

New, tax-funded “Public schools” were created to provide this compulsory education, and they were known to be anti-Catholic, largely influenced by Protestant Americans. This was famously illustrated by Thomas Nast at the time (see below).

The U.S. public school teacher, with Bible in his coat, protecting the American children from the invasion of Catholic bishops.

The Baltimore Council

At the time, the bishops of the Catholic Church published the following decrees:

1. In every church where it does not already exist, a parochial school shall be established within two years after the promulgation of this Council, and maintained in perpetuity, unless the bishop, on account of grave difficulties, shall judge that a delay may be conceded.

2. A priest, who, within this time, shall, by his serious negligence, impede the creation and sustaining of a school ; or, after repeated admonitions of the bishop, shall not take means to provide for them, shall merit removal from that church.

3. The mission or parish which shall be so negligent in aiding the priest in erecting or sustaining a school, that, on account of this supine negligence, a school cannot exist, is to be reprehended by the bishop, and in the most efficacious and prudent manner induced to furnish the necessary means.

4. All Catholic parents are bound to send their young children to parochial schools, unless, either at home or other Catholic schools, they shall evidently and sufficiently provide for the Christian education of their children, or unless for sufficient causes, approved by the bishop, and with timely cautions and remedies, it may be permitted to them to send to other schools.

Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884)

In 2022, these decrees are no longer observed. Catholic children do not have schools and Catholic education is not required. MOST Catholic children attend the public schools where are worse today than they were in the 1880s.

The average family income in the US is $67,000. Even if a Catholic school is available locally, the average family cannot afford a Catholic school tuition. Catholics are encouraged to marry and not use contraception (as is right) which leads to houses filled with baptized children for whom Catholic education isn’t available.

Thus, Catholic families must choose to either (a) homeschool their children or (b) send their children to secular public schools.

Contrary to the hype promoted by book-sellers and other organizations making money from homeschooling, homeschooling is rare and generally unsuccessful. Isolated success stories that represent extraordinary circumstances are often used to defend homeschooling, but these do not represent the normal experience of homeschoolers. Parents are forced to homeschool, knowing nothing themselves but the modern K-12 curriculum, and are completely unprepared for the task (which is horribly underestimated). Many parents make an initial attempt to homeschool their children, fail, and then send them to public schools.

In 2021, 1.1 million children were in Catholic elementary schools (K-5). That makes for an average of 180,000 per grade. Yet, in 2015, almost 700,000 infants were baptized. If multiplied by 6 years, that means 4.2 million infants were baptized and only 1.1 million of them went on to attend Catholic schools. 25% of baptized Catholic children are in Catholic schools in America. As many as 75% of Catholic children in America are being educated in secular public schools.

This is obviously a bad situation. So, what’s the plan for Catholic children in America?

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