Benefits of Catholic School EducationPrint
During this week, National Catholic Schools Week, I want to address the question parents are often asked, “Can I afford to send my child to a Catholic school?” I encourage parents to resoundingly respond Yes.
The benefits of a Catholic school education are many. At the top of the list is the 99% high school graduation rate from Catholic schools. This statistic not only easily beats the 78% graduation rate from public schools, but also beats other religious schools. Source: National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
How do Catholic schools accomplish this? I recently read a Catholic Update article, “Catholic Schools: 6 Secrets of Success,” which addressed this question. Following are highlights.
Six Secrets of Catholic School Success
1. Catholic schools develop positive Catholic identity. The atmosphere in a Catholic school, where prayer is the essence, provides a sound spirituality for the students. The Catholic identity of the school is not taken for granted, it is worked at, it is nourished, it is engaged by the students, the faculty and the community.
2. Catholic schools develop the whole person. Catholic schools exist not only to teach academics, but to equip its graduates with the best tools possible to fulfill the role of good citizen, and productive, competent professional.
3. Children learn best in a well-disciplined setting. Children are taught to be responsible for their own actions. They are encouraged to respect themselves and their neighbor. The school is not just a building, but also the place where the children know they are loved, protected and safe, even in a chaotic neighborhood.
The late Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago, many times said, “Our Catholic schools are communities where all children are safe in God’s love and therefore free to learn.”
4. Catholic families want to pass on their tradition, and they prepare their children for future leadership in the Catholic Church. Lay leadership as well as clergy and religious vocations are fostered. Catholic schools are places of evangelization.
5. Catholic schools are good for everyone’s future. Catholic schools contribute greatly to the well-being of our country. They provide anchors to neighborhoods in cities, towns and suburbs. They help students assume a sense of civic responsibility. They encourage a thirst for justice and for peace.
Dr. Lorraine Ozar, a nationally renowned educator from Loyola University-Chicago’s Center for Catholic School Effectiveness and the recipient of the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) highest award, states, students cannot be prepared for the content of the future. They can only be prepared “to problem-solve in the future they find and create.” Catholic schools, with their attention to developing the whole person, are preparing today’s children to tackle tomorrow’s world with empathy and wisdom, with reflection and action.
6. Local finance and governance make schools work. There is a growing number of independent Catholic schools initiated by lay groups working with local parishes which are assuming more responsibility for the well-being of the school. Keeping tuition affordable, providing just salaries, properly equipping schools in technology and in sound educational programs remain ongoing challenges.
Supporting Education with Capital Campaigns
There is no question that sending children to Catholic schools cost more than sending them to public schools. Many dioceses are responding with capital campaigns focused on raising money to support Catholic schools.
The Archdiocese of Chicago, spearheaded by Cardinal George, began its five-year To Teach Who Christ Is campaign in July 2013. Thus far, the campaign has raised two-thirds of its $350 million goal and has already provided scholarships to more than 2,000 children through its Caritas Scholars Program. Catholics have pulled together to support their schools as well as revitalize their parishes.
Cardinal George worked tirelessly on the To Teach Who Christ Is campaign despite his long battle with cancer and he made it his legacy. I had the honor of working with His Eminence for two years on the campaign before joining Liguori Publications.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis began their Beyond Sunday campaign in June. The campaign’s goal is $100 million to support the 58,000 students in its 140 elementary, secondary and special education Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese. The campaign is coordinated by the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri (RFCSTL), led by Mark Guyol, whom I know.
Adapted from Catholic Update “Catholic Schools: 6 Secrets of Success”
by Kathryn Ann Connelly, S.C.; Jack Wintz, O.F.M., Editor
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