For the first time, more children are enrolled in charter schools than in Catholic schools, reports a think tank in Arlington, Va., that focuses on the role of federal government in education reform, tax reform and national security.

We have to do something different or we’re going to close down, said the executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation, an organization providing financial help to promote and support the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The National Catholic Educational Association reports 1,942 Catholic schools, or 23.8 percent, have closed in the past decade. Secondary schools are doing better than elementary schools. Current tuition rates have caused much of the enrollment decline.

Between 1998 and 2010, the average Catholic school tuition more than doubled, from $4,300 to $8,800, which is a huge financial burden for even upper-middle-class families with multiple children to send to school. This has led to people choosing charter schools over Catholic schools.

Catholic school enrollment stood at 2,031,000 students for 2011-12 and 2,056,000 for public charter schools in the United States. Charter schools are not the only reason for the decline in Catholic school enrollment. Changes in demographics within the church also accounts for the shift.

Catholic immigrants form half of the client base, and only 3 percent of them are choosing Catholic schools.