Please Allow our Kids to Have a Great Catholic School Experience
Dear Bishop Sullivan and Superintendent Dr. Watson,
We realize that these are difficult times to lead our Church, but we are writing to express disappointment and concern over your recent decision to prohibit July graduations for our Catholic school seniors, thus preventing them from having in-person graduations. As you know, under Governor Murphy's new order, in-person graduations are now permitted in July. Public schools are busy organizing July graduations with social distancing and limitations on the number of attendees. Like our Catholic schools, the public school administrators have obstacles with teacher contracts and adapting to new circumstances. But unlike our Catholic schools, public school administrators are making the necessary efforts to have live graduations. Many families of our seniors have paid over $80,000 for Catholic education for their child or children, and so it is very disappointing to be told that delaying graduation a few weeks to properly honor this important life milestone cannot be accommodated.
Our seniors have already had many of their best opportunities for high school memories and celebrations eliminated. They did not have a senior trip or a prom and now, due to the Diocese’s decision, they will not have an in-person graduation. This will particularly hurt as they watch their public school peers celebrate in-person graduations.
Even more concerning, the Diocese’s lack of effort to accommodate graduations is a signal to parents that the Diocese will also be unwilling to accommodate in-person learning in the fall. Virtual learning is inferior for reasons that are obvious and places a tremendous burden on parents. Parents are paying for an in-person education. They can purchase an online Catholic homeschool curriculum for less than 1/8th the cost of Diocesan schools. And unlike the Diocesan online learning curriculum, an inexpensive Catholic homeschool curriculum is designed for use at home. Without in-person instruction, there is no reason for parents to pay Catholic school tuition. Our Catholic schools need to get students back into the classrooms to survive.
While there are many factors that contribute to a school closure, one of those factors is an unwillingness to adapt to changing circumstances. We know there are a lot of unknowns for the fall, but one thing is for certain -- our leaders will have to make changes and work hard to adapt to provide the best possible educational experience for our children.
The future of Catholic education in this Diocese is in your hands. Thousands of parents and families have made sacrifices for many decades because they desire a Catholic education for their children. Please join them in that sacrifice and effort to adapt and make decisions that put our children and their needs and experiences first.
Parents of Diocesan Catholic School Children