Closing School Gives Context for Choice


Readers may have heard that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny school in Newport (“Cluny,” for short) will be closing after this year.  From Sean Flynn’s article in the Newport Daily News:

“Despite the best efforts of so many over the past few years to reverse the trend in declining enrollment, the school’s leadership reached the conclusion that we did not have sufficient resources to continue our mission of educating and empowering our students to live lives of integrity based on Gospel values,” Sister Luke said in a prepared statement. …

“Like most independent schools, the tuition does not fully cover the cost of educating our students,” Cluny says on the website. “We rely on the generosity of supporters to help close the gap in our annual operating budget. The Fund for Cluny School provides unrestricted funds for across-the-board support of the school.”

Rhode Island’s continuing sour economy, combined with increasing secularism in the population, regulations imposed on schools and employers, and the public schools’ deliberate efforts to squeeze out private schools are putting pressure on schools like Cluny.  That suits special interests in the education establishment, as well as progressives who see private school as a marker of inequality and radical atheists who hate Christianity, but those who foot public bills should pause a moment, as a letter from Portsmouth resident John Brady in the March 6 Newport Daily News explains:

It will no doubt be difficult if not impossible to relocate all of these children in other private schools on the island, which means that our local public schools will be called upon to accept a large number of the 140 students.  Since the cost of public school education is roughly $14,000 per pupil, island taxpayers may have to pay an additional $1.96 million above already budgeted taxes if all of the Cluny students end up in island public schools.

Brady goes on to suggest, essentially, vouchers to help families attend the schools they want and taxpayers to save money on government schools.  But that misses the dynamic of the government plantation model.  The school districts will absorb the students and simply tell taxpayers that they have no choice but to pay the bill.  If necessary, public school parents and union members will be mobilized to put any budget votes over the top.

In theory, government is meant to facilitate civic society, primarily by ensuring security and a consistent rule of law, but in the expanded view, by ensuring that its own actions aren’t having adverse effects on non-government activity.  Its actions are indisputably doing so, but to progressives like Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, it’s not an issue.  I’m sure if asked directly she’ll proclaim concern for private schools (such as those that she attended), but she clearly sees her role in government as promoting government’s interests.