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Catholic Church to close or merge a dozen schools in Chicago amid attendance drop

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The Catholic Church will close or merge a dozen of its 240 Chicago-area schools due to falling attendance in some areas of the country’s largest parochial school system, the Archdiocese of Chicago said on Wednesday.

“We will not be able to maintain all schools in their current form,” outgoing Cardinal Francis George said in a letter posted on the website of the archdiocese, which has a deficit of millions of dollars.

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Six schools would close in June 2015 while another six would merge into three, affecting 1,280 elementary school students, it said.

The archdiocese ran nearly 500 schools in the 1970s.

“Even though our costs are still significantly lower than those of the public school system, expenses have risen significantly over the past decades and the cost of a Catholic education is now beyond what many families can afford,” the letter said.

The archdiocese’s school budget was $337 million in the financial year ended June 2013, with expenses slightly exceeding revenues from tuition and fees, according to a public financial report.

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The schools that will be shut down or merged have average enrollment of only 145, below the required minimum of 225, wrote George, who is suffering from kidney cancer and will retire in November and be replaced by Archbishop Blase Cupich.

Parochial schools, which are cheaper than other private schools, have long been an option for Chicago families looking for schools that perform better than their local public school. But families with household incomes of $40,000 or less can no longer pay the average $4,500 per student tuition at area Catholic schools, George noted.

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He said the Archdiocese had launched a campaign to raise a $150 million endowment fund for scholarships to help families pay for schooling and guarantee the viability of Chicago’s Catholic schools.

Across the United States there are 6,685 Catholic schools and average tuition is $3,673 for elementary parish schools and $9,622 for freshman tuition at a high school. Around the country, 82,000 children attend Catholic elementary and high schools, and 148 schools closed or consolidated last year while 28 new schools opened, according to the website of the National Catholic Educational Association.

The Chicago archdiocese covers an area larger than Chicago city proper, where dozens of public schools have been shut in recent years due to a declining population and tight budgets.

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(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump explains why he wants to buy Greenland to reporters: ‘It’s a large real estate deal — a lot can be done’

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President Donald Trump reaffirmed his desire to buy Greenland in discussion with reporters Sunday.

The president was returning to Washington, D.C. when he stopped at the airport in Morristown, New Jersey. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked the president about his desire to buy the country from Denmark.

"Greenland, I don't know. It got released somehow," Trump said of the news about his desire to buy the country. "It's something we talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark. We protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up, and I said, strategically, it's interesting. And we'd be interested. We'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner; I can tell you that."

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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

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Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

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