Our Lady of Hope, Indeed
For the first time in 80 years, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is opening a new Catholic school in urban Kansas City. According to the Star, around 200 students will enroll next school year and the school hopes to eventually increase enrollment to 625. It will be known as Our Lady of Hope.
The school will occupy the building at 201 E. Armour, which was formerly used by the Derrick Thomas Academy Charter School. It will also house students from Our Lady of the Angels and Our Lady of Guadalupe, both of which are closing at the end of this year as part of a strategic restructuring.
I am incredibly excited to see the Diocese making strategic efforts to provide quality education to inner-city Kansas City students. But if I allow one shred of pessimism to enter my mind, I’m reminded of all of the great city Catholic schools that have closed over the years. I’m confronted with the reality that the fight for school choice gets harder and harder as good private school options disappear. Voucher programs across the country have relied, at least at their beginning, on filling empty seats in existing schools. Only after they get that foothold have they been able to spur the creation of new schools.
The story of Our Lady of Hope should give us a greater sense of urgency. If there are no schools for students to attend, it won’t matter if the state passes a voucher program. School choice programs, and the tens of thousands of students they would benefit, need our fervent support now.