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Parents protest longer academic year for Catholic schools

Parents protest longer academic year for Catholic schools

Several dozen parents protested Thursday outside the Los Angeles archdiocese plans for a longer academic year at Catholic schools.

The parents from at least eight schools are unhappy that church officials plan to extend the school year by 20 days to 200 days a year.

“Children need a break to rejuvenate and the time to try things they can’t during the school year because they’re overloaded,” said Michelle Boydston, whose daughter attends St. Paul the Apostle School in Westwood. “Children need time to play outside, to sit, climb a tree, read a book. Our school is doing a very good job in terms of educating students. They don’t need another 20 days.”

For the archdiocese, the strategy is intended to improve the education program and provide an incentive for parents to choose to remain in Catholic schools, which charge tuition.

Some Catholic schools have been hard hit by the economic downturn and by competition from charter schools, which are independently run but publicly financed and free to parents.

Many local public school systems, including Los Angeles Unified, have temporarily shortened the school year from 180 days to 175 days because of budget deficits. Archdiocese schools have 30,000 open seats, and nine schools are in jeopardy of closing, officials said.

The archdiocese’s plan has generated praise and backlash. Protesters said parents from diverse backgrounds have expressed reservations about the longer school year, especially accompanied by higher tuition.

“For me personally, it’s the longer school year,” said Boydston. “But I do think the increase of tuition will be difficult for lots of families, including families at our school.”

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles backed away from its original announcement, characterizing the longer school year as a “recommendation” for its 210 elementary schools. But parents at the protest said they were told the flexibility pertained only to when to schedule the 20 extra days and to giving schools until the 2012-13 school year to switch to the longer schedule.

On Thursday the archdiocese reiterated that local school administrators, working with parents, will make the decision. About 70% of elementary schools across its three-county area already have decided to adopt the longer calendar for next year, said Carolina Guevara, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

Parents said they remain concerned.

“We just want the families to have some say in this,” said Christi Catalano, who has three children in Catholic schools and hopes to enroll her twins in kindergarten next year. “The decision was so secretive, so sudden.”

She said she’s considering enrolling her children in the local public schools.


L.A. Catholic schools to have one of the nation's longest school years

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Parent Whitney Stropp leads a group of about 50 other parents and families in a protest in front of the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles Thursday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (14)

No "Tiger-Moms" in this group!

I understand Michelle Boydston took her daughter out of school to travel to Egypt this year and takes her out of school for a week for a yearly ski trip to Switzerland.

Well, that's good that there are no tiger moms.lol Are there only Catholic private schools? If you don't like the policies of the private school, you don't have to attend.

Secretive? Really? The Catholic Church? Who knew?

Just about everybody!!!

Only a someone living with their head in the sand would not already know this!!! Anyone who thinks the sex-abuse coverups are the only ones engaged in by the Catholic Church are in for big surprises ahead!!

Somewhere 1 billion Chinese kids are laughing- as they count our money.

Simple solution, pull your kid out of Catholic school. DUH!

I love it! Pull your kids out of the school if you don't like it, you catholic snobs!

As a parent of 2 catholic school students it saddens me. I don't have an endless amount of money to spend, I don't drive highend cars, and I live in a middle class neighborhood, nothing fancy. I choose to spend my money on my children. The education is already outstanding, the school has done its part, but summer is my part. It's the surfing time, camping time and family time that rounds out my childrens characters and personalities. Yes, I can pull my children, but thats not the point. I chose this school and to pay a tuition so that I could be a partner in my childs education and am let down at the way it was handled. Just to bash the church or a parent who chooses catholic school does nothing to remedy this, and quite frankly does nothing positive in any way.

I hear you, concerned parent. I share your concerns, but the bashers are just angry people who lose control when the word Catholic comes up on their newsfeed. They can't help themselves--and are a big reason why I'd never pick public school over Catholic school where the hatred is either barely covered or completely naked in all its inglorious nastiness. Not to mention that if their posts are an indication of what public school produces, we're all in a lot of trouble--seriously, China?where you get one kid and if he or she is defective or you kill it or put it away in a home and get another (once you're licensed, of course). That's our measure? God bless the Catholic private school!

The whole point was that neither parents nor teachers were informed this was being considered and given a chance for input. Also, fix what you have before adding on to it.

The ladies in the photo look ridiculous, demonstrating that they are against their children receiving a better education.

It is all about money, and not education either. Twenty days is one month of tuition. In another article stated that would give the teachers a raise, so it is not about education. Uknow, your statement is stupid because it is not about getting a better education.

My children attend catholic schools and I am a public school teacher. I think the extra days are a great idea. I hope San Bernardino County Arch. does the same. Today we expect teachers to cover MORE material and prepare students for standardized tests with LESS days. Students who fall behind have a hard time catching up and teachers who are forced to follow pacing plans can only do so much for students who fall behind. I agree with quality versus quantity but there is just not enough time in the school day and the school year. If parents on the "westside" parishes need their "family" vacations they should push for their parish to keep the 180 days but don't knock the idea for everyone else.

If it's about education, which I believe it is not, then how about an education in government? Let's take a vote, and we can teach about democracy. I understand your concerns as far as not enough time, but that arguement could be used in all aspects of our busy lives. Which reinforces my belief in family time. My children need more than school to be educated, the social aspect of summer park programs, the excercise in playing baseball, surfing, and just running around. The education they have been receiving thus far has been amazing. Am I to believe now, that I have been paying all this time so that my 4th grade oldest son has had a flawed education? My 1st grader will be sooooo much further along? Or will he be at the same level, only taking 20 extra days and 1 month more in tuition to get there?


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