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Thread: Mayor Offers $13.1 Billion Schools Plan

  1. #1

    Default Mayor Offers $13.1 Billion Schools Plan

    November 4, 2003

    Mayor Offers $13.1 Billion Schools Plan


    Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, left, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg were met by students at P.S. 234 in Astoria, Queens.

    Openly challenging Gov. George E. Pataki and the State Legislature to increase education aid to New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday proposed $13.1 billion in school construction and repairs over five years the most ambitious education capital plan in city history and demanded that Albany foot more than half of the bill.

    The mayor's plan calls for $4 billion to build or lease 76 new school buildings and $4.6 billion in improvements like wireless computer networking in all schools, upgraded science labs and new safety equipment, including surveillance cameras. The plan also sets aside $4.5 billion for building repairs.

    Mr. Bloomberg said that on top of what the state would pay under current law, Albany should provide $6.5 billion to comply with a ruling by the state's highest court in June that ordered the state to rewrite its education financing law. The current aid formula, the court said, shortchanged New York City.

    "The state is, as you know, under court order to correct a long and grossly unfair pattern of spending for public school education," Mr. Bloomberg said. "The capital plan that we are putting forward directly addresses some of the worst consequences of the state's longstanding failure in educational policy."

    Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein added: "New York's share of building aid over the past seven years has been approximately 30 percent of the statewide total. Yet with 37 percent of the state's students, the highest construction costs and among the oldest building stock, it's obvious we're not getting our fair share."

    While the city's rhetoric was harsh, Governor Pataki offered a muted response. A spokesman, Joseph Conway, said the governor was awaiting details of the plan but noted that state aid for school construction in the city had more than tripled since Mr. Pataki took office, to $404.8 million this year from $120.5 million in January 1995.

    "Under Governor Pataki, the state has made great strides in supporting New York City construction," Mr. Conway said.

    New York State is facing a budget shortfall of about $6 billion.

    City officials said that the $6.5 billion from the state would be in addition to reimbursement the city would normally receive under the current law estimated at about $2 billion. That would bring the total state contribution to more than $8.5 billion.

    Mr. Bloomberg's reliance on Albany raised the prospect of a protracted political battle and prompted critics to charge that many of the construction projects that the mayor proposed amounted to little more than a wish list.

    "This is not really a $13 billion program it's a $6 billion city capital plan with another $6 billion wish list from Albany," Randi Weingarten, the head of the teachers' union, said in a statement.

    State lawmakers, who will have a crucial role in any changes to the education financing formula, had little reaction yesterday.

    Assemblyman Steven Sanders, a Manhattan Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, said the state had long shortchanged the city on reimbursements for school construction costs. And he said the city's needs were indisputable. "We have got 100-year-old buildings in every borough," he said. "We have buildings that were built before the Spanish-American War."

    John McArdle, a spokesman for the State Senate president, Joseph L. Bruno, said his office would study the plan.

    Mayor Bloomberg said his plan would end overcrowding in high schools, end the need for split sessions and allow for the elimination of all temporary classroom "trailers" by 2012. The 76 new schools would provide 62,700 classroom seats citywide, he said.

    Of those new schools, 48 would be built and 28 leased. They would include 11 small primary schools, 49 elementary and middle schools and 16 intermediate high schools.

    In making his announcement at Public School 234 in Astoria, Queens, Mr. Bloomberg spoke exuberantly about his administration's efforts to fix the schools and said the five-year plan had been drafted to fit with other components of his agenda, including the new citywide curriculums and an effort to create small schools.

    "It's not simply about bricks and mortar, it's about students and their future," Mr. Bloomberg said. "It's a powerful expression of our administration's Children First educational agenda."

    The plan allocates more than $2 billion for improvements at 671 failing schools. It also allocates $719 million for playground redevelopment; $360 million for wireless networking and laptop computers; $350 million to help create 50 new charter schools; $300 million for science lab renovations; and $122 million for security surveillance cameras.

    Mr. Klein pointedly urged Albany to do its share.

    "It is, in short, high time for the state to step up and join the city as a full partner in improving our schools," he said. "Our proposed capital plan provides a blueprint for exactly what needs to be done."

    Some experts have questioned whether the city could reasonably spend $2.6 billion a year on school construction and renovation without causing shockwaves to the construction market. But William H. Goldstein, the president of the School Construction Authority, said he was confident his agency could manage the load.

    The five-year plan is the first to be drawn up since Mr. Bloomberg won full control of the schools, and it is unlikely to change before it is submitted to the City Council as part of the overall city budget process.

    In the past, capital plans were developed by the schools chancellor, then modified by the Board of Education before being submitted to the mayor, who would make further changes before sending it along to the Council.

    The City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, issued a statement praising the plan. "Mayor Bloomberg has acknowledged what the Council and millions of parents have demanded: a seat for every child in a clean and safe classroom with the tools they need to learn," he said.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2


    February 4, 2004

    Building Plan Adds Schools and Reduces Their Size


    The Bloomberg administration has revised its five-year, $13.1 billion school construction proposal so that it now calls for building 90 schools with a capacity of 66,000 students. The original plan, unveiled in November, called for building 76 schools for 63,000 students.

    Nine of the 14 additional buildings are needed because officials overestimated the size of schools that could be built at previously designated construction sites. Limitations at those sites will force the city to build smaller schools..

    To pay for the 14 additional buildings, city officials reduced the plan's emergency fund by $220 million, to $371 million from $591 million. The emergency fund is money set aside in the capital plan for unexpected renovations or repairs.

    Kathleen Grimm, the deputy schools chancellor for finance and administration, said that officials were comfortable reducing the emergency fund, which is based on a percentage of the overall construction plan, because the plan is far larger than a typical five-year school capital budget.

    The Panel for Educational Policy, the successor to the Board of Education, is scheduled to vote on the plan Monday night. City education officials revised the plan in response to citywide public hearings. The plan still relies on $6.5 billion in extra aid from Albany, money that Gov. George E. Pataki has suggested will not be forthcoming.

    To create 3,000 more student seats, the revisions add five new buildings, including one in each of three neighborhoods - School Districts 25 and 29 in Queens and District 19 in Brooklyn - that were not slated to get new buildings in the original plan.

    The two other buildings will be in District 6 in Upper Manhattan, where schools are severely overcrowded. The November plan had included just one new school - of 440 students - for District 6, and parents and community groups complained bitterly. The two new schools will accommodate 630 students each in kindergarten through eighth grades.

    The construction plan also calls for an effort to rebuild and renovate low-performing schools, at a cost of more than $2 billion. And the revised plan names 120 low-performing schools that are to get work in the plan's first year - 46 of those schools, or more than a third, are in the Bronx.

    Eva S. Moskowitz, the chairwoman of the City Council Education Committee, said the revisions included some much-needed fixes, particularly in upper Manhattan. "The revisions corrected some glaring inadequacies," she said. "District 6 has a problem, a very significant problem."

    Ms. Moskowitz, however, said she remained concerned about many aspects of the plan, particularly its reliance on New York State to pick up half the price tag. "All of this is talk until we get $6 billion from Albany," she said.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3


    February 5, 2004

    $4 Billion More Is Needed to Fix City's Schools, Study Finds


    With New York State under a court mandate to provide a "sound basic education" to New York City schoolchildren, the plaintiffs in the case put forward a study yesterday showing that an extra $4.1 billion a year would be needed to achieve that aim.

    The study, more than 18 months in the making, is the first in which anyone has tried to figure out the cost of making sure that every child in the city - or anywhere else in the state, for that matter - is able to obtain a Regents high school diploma.

    But it is unclear whether the court will back its findings, or even equate a basic education with a Regents diploma. Rather, the document will probably serve as the starting point for what is expected to be a vigorous debate in the State Legislature over how the state can meet the court order in a year when it faces a $5.1 billion deficit.

    The study carries particular weight because its methodology has long been endorsed by the chairman of Gov. George E. Pataki's Commission on Education Reform, Frank G. Zarb, who said yesterday that he and the Legislature should take it seriously. It was even conducted by some of the governor's own witnesses in the lawsuit, which lasted a decade.

    Mr. Pataki said he had not had a chance to review the study, but added that along with additional resources for the schools, he would want to ensure there are high standards and accountability.

    An extra $4 billion would be a 36 percent increase over the everyday expenses of New York City public schools in the 2001-2 academic year, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the study found. The number does not include whatever buildings would be needed to house students in the smaller classrooms the court demanded.

    Expanding the same guarantee to every student in the state, as Governor Pataki has insisted on doing, would increase the price tag by $3 billion more each year, the study has found. Taken together, the two increases would raise the total cost of educating all students, both in the city and throughout the state, by about 22 percent beyond 2001-2 levels, the study found.

    With those figures in hand, the two poles that are likely to shape the legislative wrangling over the court order have begun to take clear form.

    At one end, the governor has proposed heeding the court mandate to fix the city's schools with the profits from video lottery terminals. In their first year, they would provide a $325 million increase to education spending, an amount the governor's office calls a "solid foundation and framework'' for meeting the court order. Once the machines are fully up and running, the governor said, they are expected to yield at least $2 billion a year, though the idea has provoked skepticism from those who consider it too experimental and risky to satisfy the court.

    Several billion dollars away sit the plaintiffs in the case, a group called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which calls its study "the most extensive, the most expensive and, we think, the most rigorous" work of its kind. It has no suggestions as to how the extra money should be raised, but contends that the burden should not be borne by local taxpayers.

    "The lion's share needs to come from the state," said Michael A. Rebell, the campaign's executive director, adding that the extra money should be phased in over a period of three to four years.

    In the late 1990's, the state's education expenditures rose considerably, by as much as 32 percent in a matter of four years. But if the state were to shoulder all of the increase, without extra help from local taxpayers, it would have to raise its spending by nearly 50 percent, an increase that has previously taken almost twice as long to achieve.

    Bolstering the campaign's findings, the New York State Board of Regents concluded last December that an extra $6 billion a year would be needed to bring the state's education spending up to a "fair and equitable level." But the deficit faced by the state this year is almost as large as the proposed increase, leading some to expect that any huge increases will be hard for the Legislature to swallow.

    "Whether it's six or seven billion, the numbers are large, and it's hard to fathom how the state can come up with that, but we're zeroing in on something," said Robert Lowry, an associate director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. He added: "By itself the governor's $2 billion is out of line with what other parties have arrived at, but the other shoe hasn't dropped yet. We're still waiting for the Zarb commission."

    Next month, the governor's commission, headed by Mr. Zarb, is supposed to report the cost of delivering what the court called a "sound basic education" to every schoolchild in New York State.

    But the commission's ability to do so was hampered last month when Alan G. Hevesi, the state comptroller, rejected a $1.2 million contract with Standard & Poor's to do the analysis because of a potential conflict of interest. Mr. Zarb said yesterday that the commission would deliver a number nonetheless.

    Coming up with a figure has been made more complicated by the many ambiguities of the court ruling itself.

    Last June, the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, found that the state had shirked its constitutional obligation to provide New York City schoolchildren with a decent education, and gave it until the end of this coming July to remedy the problem. While the court ruled that only a "meaningful high school education" would be adequate, it neither endorsed the state's requirements for graduation, known as the Regents standards, nor specified an appropriate alternative to using them.

    Because the campaign's study uses the Regents standards as a baseline, it is open to criticism from those who say it goes beyond what the court requires.

    But using the state's own graduation standards as a base, the study found that an average of $11,093 was spent educating each child in the 2001-2 school year. To make sure that every student had a chance of meeting the Regents standards, the number should have been $12,520 that year, the study found. Next year, it will have to be $14,180.

    In New York City, the disparities are more pronounced. In the 2001-2 school year, an average of $10,793 was spent educating each of the city's 1.1 million schoolchildren. To help them meet the state's academic standards, that number should have been $13,373, the study found. By next fall, it will have to reach $15,150.

    The study was conducted by Jay G. Chambers and Thomas B. Parrish of the American Institutes for Research, as well as by James R. Smith and James W. Guthrie of Management Analysis and Planning.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #4


    March 12, 2004

    New York City Plans to Open 60 Small Secondary Schools


    Sixty new small schools with themes ranging from firefighting to cooking to "peace and diversity" will open next year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday.

    Among the new schools will be 41 high schools, 4 traditional middle schools and 15 schools based on the less common sixth- or seventh-through-12th-grade model. Three of the schools will be single-sex, four will cater to students who are behind in their credits, and each of them will ultimately have about 500 students.

    The creation of small schools is a centerpiece of the overhaul of the New York City school system under Mr. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein. Officials hope that carving some of the city's enormous high schools into more intimate learning environments will reduce dropout rates, keep more students interested in academics and limit the number of students who get lost in the thunderous shuffle of high school.

    "Small schools work better than big schools, and we're going in the direction of trying to have more small schools," the mayor said at a news conference at Park West High School in Manhattan, the future home of three new small schools. "Everybody agrees that effective small schools that provide a wide range of school options are really fundamental to the educational reform process."

    The new high schools will take 100 ninth graders next year and will grow to no more than 500 students. The other schools will start with 75 sixth graders and grow to about 525.

    "That is a manageable size," Mr. Bloomberg said. "It is a far cry from the schools of 3,000, where it's just probably, it's very difficult at least, to provide the attention that every one of our students needs and deserves."

    Among the single-sex schools, the Eagle Academy for Young Men is being created together with One Hundred Black Men, a civic group that will "provide successful male role models," according to a description released yesterday. The Young Women's Leadership School will be modeled on a similar school in East Harlem. The Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men will emphasize "rite of passage experiences" and offer a course on hip-hop and citizenship. All of these schools will be in the Bronx. The 60 schools announced yesterday join 46 others that opened this year and more still that have existed longer. Mr. Klein has pledged to open 200 small schools by 2007 with the help of private money, including more than $50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    More than half of the new schools will be run in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools, a New York group that has received millions of dollars from the Gates foundation and other charities to create dozens of schools over the last two years, many of them in the Bronx.

    Most of the new schools will spring up in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Most of the high schools will be share space with large high schools, some of which will eventually close. Most small middle schools will share space with existing middle schools. The department is still trying to find space for several of the schools.

    Three large high schools, including Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, which was recently labeled one of the most dangerous schools, will begin the phaseout process in September.

    This year, several of the large high schools that housed small schools, including John F. Kennedy and Christopher Columbus in the Bronx, were severely overcrowded, as the small schools took up space while regular students continued to pour in.

    Department of Education officials said yesterday that they would try to reduce the burdens on big schools. They said that they hoped a new high school admissions process would enable them to anticipate overcrowding hot spots more clearly and that at least $4 million would go to campuses with multiple small schools.

    "We will make sure that we are doing everything possible to make these buildings work as a whole campus of schools and not to hurt other schools," said Michele Cahill, Mr. Klein's senior counselor for education policy and an architect of the small schools plan. "This is a problem that we have been spending a lot of time to address." Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, stood with the mayor, chancellor and other officials during yesterday's announcement but was circumspect in her praise for the initiative, saying her union had supported the creation of small schools for two decades. Ms. Weingarten also pushed for smaller classes in all city schools, saying that while small schools benefit from the personal touch, "I would love to see all schools, big schools as well as small schools, have that kind of intimacy."

    Nicholas Scoppetta, the fire commissioner, was also on hand yesterday to speak about the F.D.N.Y. High School for Fire and Life Safety, where physics classes, he said, would delve into building structures and collapses, and students would be able to earn certification as emergency medical technicians.

    The Amnesty International School for Human Rights is intended to encourage students to become "compassionate, socially engaged young adults.'' The Food and Finance High School will focus on the culinary arts as well as the financial aspects of the food industry.

    Students who have already been admitted to one of the city's specialized high schools will have to give up their spots if they want to apply for a slot in one of the new schools. Students who have already ranked their high school choices can re-rank them to include the small schools. Applications for middle schools will be handled through the 10 regional offices.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  5. #5

  6. #6


    April 21, 2004

    Mayor Determines Focus of 2005 Race: Schools


    The City Council speaker has taken aim at the Bloomberg administration's moves to end social promotion. So has the former Bronx borough president as he, like the speaker, considers a mayoral run. And even the city comptroller has been focusing on education-related issues, faulting the administration's no-bid deal with Snapple to supply vending machines to the schools.

    In staking his mayoralty on whether he succeeds in improving New York City schools, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has transformed the political discourse, forcing his opponents to focus on education, too.

    While recent elections have typically centered on issues like crime, this time around, the focus is likely to be different. Yesterday, the education issue was once again paramount as third graders around the city took reading tests that, under the mayor's new policy, will help determine whether they are promoted.

    These days, Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, can barely make a statement about education policy without some retort from the mayoral hopeful Gifford Miller, the Democratic council speaker, who has led the pack in his comprehensive attacks on the mayor's school policies.

    But he is not alone. When the Panel for Educational Policy voted last month to impose tough new promotion standards for third graders, another mayoral hopeful, Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, was sitting in the audience and quickly rose to give his thumbs down on Mr. Bloomberg's program. And City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. has grabbed headlines by examining the city's deal with Snapple.

    "Just as Mayor Giuliani made himself the top cop and asked voters to judge him on his efforts to reduce crime when he ran for re-election in 1997, Mayor Bloomberg has made himself superintendent of schools and told New Yorkers by the time he is up in 2005, 'The schools are going to be better or blame me,' '' said Jeffrey B. Plaut, a partner at the Global Strategy Group, a Democratic political consulting and polling firm.

    And blame him is exactly what Mr. Bloomberg's challengers are hoping to do.

    But focusing on schools is a risky strategy for both the mayor and his potential opponents. Trying to repair the school system can be like trying to even out the legs on a chair with a handsaw. It can be hard to improve the quality of education while also balancing the varying interests of parents, teachers, students, unions, community activists and the mayor himself.

    When Mayor John V. Lindsay pushed through decentralization of the schools more than 30 years ago, he ended up angering community groups by not giving them the control they wanted, alienating the teachers' union and ultimately leaving behind a system that is widely regarded as having failed the children.

    "We are back full circle, as far as I am concerned," said Councilman Albert Vann, the Brooklyn Democrat who pushed for community control during the Lindsay years.

    With crime down sharply in recent years, polls show that schools have become the top concern of most city voters, with jobs a close second, political pollsters said.

    So even if Mr. Bloomberg had not said, "I was hired to make the schools better," it is likely that the system, which serves 1.1 million children, would be a central element of next year's mayoral race.

    Mr. Bloomberg, his aides say, will point to his accomplishments - reorganizing the system, ending so-called social promotion at the third grade - and then ask for four more years to finish the job he started.

    The challenge for his opponents will be to present a critique that does not sound shrill, while also offering a convincing alternative, political strategists said. "Mayor Bloomberg has aggressively staked out a territory on this issue, and he is going to be running on this issue," said Howard Wolfson, a Democratic political consultant. "It will be incumbent on Democrats to offer a different vision, offer an alternative to the mayor's vision."

    Arguably, no one knows the pitfalls of attacking an incumbent on education policy better than Ruth W. Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president, who ran against Mr. Giuliani in 1997. Ms. Messinger tried to make education the central theme of her campaign.

    But in her first televised advertisement, Ms. Messinger staged a scene of children being taught in a bathroom as a means to criticize Mr. Giuliani's leadership. She was roundly criticized for the commercial after Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew accused her of "denigrating the public school system for political gain.''

    Saying that the stinging criticism of her bathroom-scene commercial was "my biggest disappointment," Ms. Messinger concluded, "I think people don't want that much bad news."

    Already, Democrats are saying that they hope to use Mr. Bloomberg's education policies to underscore what they see as negative public feelings about his leadership style, focusing, for instance, on his willingness to push through changes without having developed a consensus, as critics say he did when he fired two appointees opposed to his third-grade retention policy.

    "The mayor's modus operandi is he hires managers, they tell him what to do, and that is where he gets his opinions from," Councilman Vann said. "He does not care for the opinions and experience of the folks who do not work for him. He gives it sort of short shrift."

    One issue that has already been the subject of dispute is how much control the mayor has over the schools. While Albany allowed for the abolishment of the Board of Education to give the mayor more control, some say there should be limits. Mr. Ferrer, for example, said that he had supported giving such control to the mayor, but that he had not thought the change would work the way it had.

    "I still believe there needs to be a board that does its business out in the open and that is somewhat independent," Mr. Ferrer said.

    Perhaps most aggressive on the education front has been Mr. Miller, the council speaker. From his first budget proposal to his recent testimony chastising the Department of Education's use of no-bid contracts, he has consistently tried to present an alternate vision for education, calling for smaller class sizes and denouncing the mayor's policy of holding students back. He has even hired as his press secretary David K. Chai, who previously was press secretary to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. That gives Mr. Miller a singular ability to shape his attack on the mayor with detailed inside information.

    "There is no more important issue than our children's education, and when the speaker sees mistakes, or opportunities to do better, he is going to speak out," Mr. Chai said.

    But Mr. Bloomberg has the most to gain - or lose - on the schools issue. As the mayor, he has the pulpit to call for change, and loudly claim credit for any successes. He also has the benefit of at least one fact: this will be the first year that pupils are held back under the new third-grade retention policy. Furthermore, that change will mean that next year, the weakest performers will not be taking the fourth-grade statewide mathematics and reading tests; this situation could very well mean better test scores, a handy piece of data in an election year.

    The administration is clearly preparing to make its case on education as campaign season nears.

    "It's hard to find a mayor so committed to taking on the challenge of fixing our schools and asked to be held accountable for the results," said Edward Skyler, a spokesman for the mayor. Signaling the strategy of the coming campaign, he added, "It's easy to find career politicians criticizing from the sidelines."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  7. #7


    I read this article & found it hopeful. For those of you who can put religious issues aside, it's a worthy read. It suggests a physical & curricular retooling of Catholic schools that have been closed, to charter, some in which change has already taken place. It continues in the tradition of giving high-quality education especially to those from low-income families, while still stressing personal discipline & responsibilty, without religious teaching. I'll paste part of it here, follow the link for the rest since it's a long article.

    Can Catholic Schools Be Saved?

    In the fall of 2007, word quietly spread through the nation's capital that a dozen Catholic schools run by the Archdiocese of Washington were in dire financial straits. These were not just any schools: The specter of closure had haunted these 12 before, when financial problems had surfaced a decade earlier. At that time, the archbishop of Washington, James Cardinal Hickey, had refused to allow the shuttering of any more schools serving the poorest families in his archdiocese. His solution was to create a unique arrangement whereby these schools would pool resources in order to stay afloat. Known as the Center City Consortium, the school grouping had appeared for several years to be a success; test scores were up, and millions of dollars had been raised.

    In time, however, the contributions dried up, and deficits accumulated. So when the archdiocese scheduled a meeting to discuss the future of the consortium, Catholic-school advocates feared the worst. School closures are always devastating to the Church and to the families affected — but this was more painful still. An enormous effort had been waged on behalf of these schools for ten years, and still they were in peril. Did their situation suggest a much broader problem — that urban Catholic education might be doomed?
    On September 7, 2007, the new archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, delivered the news no one wanted to hear but that everyone silently expected: The schools' financial challenges had become overwhelming. They were no longer sustainable.

    The struggles of the Center City Consortium are simply another chapter in the tragedy of America's disappearing inner-city Catholic schools. Over the past several decades, in urban centers across the country, thousands of schools have been shuttered — a trend with implications for more than just the nation's Catholics. In several of America's cities, public schools have long been dangerous or academically troubled; for families with means, the solution has been to send their children to expensive private schools or to move to better public-school districts. But for poor families struggling to make ends meet, neither private-school tuition nor a house in the suburbs has been an option. Often, the only recourse for children from these families — many of whom are minorities, and are not even Catholic — has been a local Catholic school.
    The plight of these institutions, then, should concern everyone who cares about reducing educational inequality, ending cycles of poverty, and turning around America's inner cities. But in order to figure out how to resuscitate urban Catholic education, it is crucial first to understand precisely how it arrived at its current predicament. There is, to begin, the long history of Catholic schools in the United States — their dramatic rise, their unexpected decline, and their ever-shifting place in America's education landscape. And there is the uncomfortable interaction between faith and public policy, which has led to contentious public debates that have driven decades of controversial and often contradictory decisions by state legislatures, the courts, Congress, and the White House.

    This tension raises fundamental questions for both the Church and the state. How important is the Catholic in Catholic schooling? And how should the government interact with a deeply rooted and beneficial, but religiously affiliated, sector of schools? These longstanding philosophical issues underlie an urgent and practical problem: What, if anything, can be done to save the hundreds of Catholic schools currently on the brink of closure — as well as the thousands more fast approaching the edge?

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