According to data compiled by the National Catholic Educational Association, half of the nation's Catholic schools have closed since 1960 (12,893 down to 6,429). Only 508 inner-city elementary Catholic schools remain.

National Center for Education Statistics data show that, from 2005-6 through 2015-6, faith-based schools in cities lost 115,000 students in enrollment, with losses in the number of city-based Catholic, Conservative Christian and other schools affiliated with a particular faith (though there was an increase in the number of "unaffiliated" religious schools in cities).

One important recent study found that the closure of longstanding urban Catholic schools actually harms, in terms of a number of social factors, their surrounding neighborhoods.

Private-school-choice programs like voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs, which provide financial aid that enables some families to afford a nonpublic school, haven't yet been adopted at a scale to stem the tide of closures. While there is not a conclusive body of research on how these programs influence the supply of private-school options, there is some evidence that the right types of programs in the right conditions might help.

For example, Michael McShane has written on this website that strategies related to funding, access to educators and information for families could help existing private schools grow enrollment and promote the creation of new schools.

Read the full article on urban Catholic schools by Andy Smarick at American Enterprise Institute