Private Schools and Middle Class America

Just this morning, I came upon an article from Bloomberg Business entitled “Private School Is Becoming Out of Reach for Middle-Class Americans.” I read a  lot of articles, especially about education. This one is different. It lays out as clear as can be not only what is happening across the United States, but also right here in the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma. I certainly can’t speak for the larger private school community of Eastern Oklahoma but for the Catholic schools, this is a growing problem.

Increasingly, middle-income families are having trouble affording Tulsa Catholic schools. Go ahead and ask them. The Bishop Kelley Business Office has daily conversations with these families as they try to work out payments plans and make it all work. Many of these families are heroic. These parents have a deep love for their children and see a Bishop Kelley education as the best thing for them (I happen to agree!). Many of these parents sacrifice, cut back, drive older cars, and go without a vacation to make it work. The students themselves often have jobs and contribute to the payments for their education. Some families pay in cash, brought in from tips from their job at a restaurant or nail salon. There are choices to be made and these families are making them.

Now I only read this article 30 minutes ago, but it’s made clear that several initiatives we have underway need to be accelerated:

  1. Keeping Costs Down (a major initiative by our Business Office)
  2. Taking Advantage of Oklahoma’s Tuition Tax Credit Law (In Eastern Oklahoma that’s GO for Catholic Schools)- We are leaving money on the table every year
  3. Growing the Bishop Kelley Endowment 
  4. Raising Money for Direct Tuition Assistance.
  5. Supporting the St. Francis of Assisi Tuition Assistance Trust. This year’s dinner is on Thursday, October 5th.
  6. Working Individually With Families To Make It Work. If a family is willing to work with us, we can’t wait to work with them to see if we can do it.

We have a lot of work to do.

Just a few thoughts on a Thursday morning. God bless you!




About Rev. Brian O'Brien

Priest of the Diocese of Tulsa and President of Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, OK.
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