An opportunity that should not be ignored

Reviving Catholic education and preserving it into the next generation is no small task. It will take committed leaders across the country stepping up to help in ways small and large.

By advocating for school choice policies, you can make a difference not only for your community today but for those to come.

According to data released this fall by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Catholic schools welcomed 62,000 new students to their classrooms this academic year. This marked an uptick nationally by 3.8 percent — the first time Catholic school enrollment has increased in the United States in 25 years. That brings the total number of children currently being educated in parochial schools to nearly 1.68 million.

The boom has presented an opportunity in dioceses across the country, including the oldest… Why is this an opportunity? Because it allows dioceses the chance to creatively and effectively make use of additional resources in a way that prioritizes the catechesis and evangelization of a generation that the Church desperately needs, and at the same time strengthens the Catholic identity of indispensable religious institutions.

Reviving Catholic education and preserving it into the next generation is no small task. It will take committed leaders across the country stepping up to help in ways small and large. By advocating for school choice policies, you can make a difference not only for your community today but for those to come.

By advocating for school choice policies, you can make a difference not only for your community today but for those to come.

Click here to share what Catholic education means to you.

Thank you for joining us.

Teachers find new options in Catholic schools

When the traditional public education system fails, it’s not just students who struggle. Many teachers struggle or even leave the classroom. But many teachers are finding a new passion for their profession – within Catholic schools. 

The Catholic Voice reports on what’s happening in Omaha:

Meg Searl didn’t exactly plan on becoming the new principal at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Omaha. But she opened her heart to the idea and prayed about it. “I literally turned it over to God one morning, and not too long after that, I was interviewing for this position,” Searl said.

Her long career with Omaha Public Schools was amazing, she said, but she believes God has led her to “exactly where I’m supposed to be.” Searl is somewhat typical of the teachers and administrators who are new this year to Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Of the 124 people who attended an archdiocese new teacher orientation on July 28, about 60% had switched from public schools, said Vickie Kauffold, superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Every day, Catholic schools help students find their love of learning. Catholic schools can help teachers regain their love of teaching, too.

School choice is a critical part of this story.

In states where school choice is limited, administrators and teachers can face the threat of not being able to keep operating. In states with robust school choice, the sky is the limit for schools, teachers, and students.

Consider Nebraska, one of only two states without any type of school choice program. More than 70% of students in the state attending a private school attend a Catholic school, and many of those students come from middle and lower-income households. Although the Church and generous donors work hard to make sure every child who wants to can attend one of their schools, there aren’t enough scholarships to meet the demand. A school choice program would go a long way to address that problem.

We’re fighting for a world in which every school that’s meeting student needs can keep thriving.

Catholic schools provide spiritual nourishment and educational enrichment every single day. I hope you’ll join us to make sure these options continue to grow through the power of school choice. 

PS: Click here to read what a scholarship to Catholic schools meant to Jayleesha, now a student at the University of Chicago.

Catholic School Attendance Skyrocketing in This Diocese

The last few years – and the last few decades – have been challenging for Catholic schools. Many schools operate at a loss. They take on the financial burden so that children in the community can get a good education, whether or not their families are wealthy.

In tough times like the pandemic, the strain gets even worse. Many schools closed, and many are at risk of closing.

But that’s not the story everywhere.

In Florida, Catholic schools rebounded quickly. And now, in Venice, enrollment is skyrocketing. The demand is thanks to how many schools stepped up to meet critical needs – and to school choice programs that help them do so.

With just days before the start of the 2022-2023 Academic Year, enrollment is up 25% over the start of this 2020-2021 Academic Year. That year was when Diocesan schools opened on-time during the height of the pandemic.

The Florida Step Up for Students scholarship program has aided in this enrollment effort. The program allows that a family of four making $111,000 or less can earn up to $8,000 scholarship toward Catholic school education of each child in the family. Dependent children of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or law enforcement qualify for the scholarship regardless of income.

We’re fighting for a world in which every school that is serving its community can stay open.

Catholic schools are so important to the practical, moral, and academic needs of countless children.

School choice is the way to ensure these schools can thrive for the next generation.

PS: Click here to read a story of how school choice helped a former public educator ensure a good education for her boys in Miami

Catholic Schools Offered A Choice, Not An Echo

I want to share a recent op-ed from a Catholic school leader who leads a network of schools in Ohio and New York City.

Partnership Schools were among countless Catholic schools across the country that stood in the gap to keep educating children during a historic crisis. School choice ensures these educational pillars can keep operating.

We need school choice to sustain and support parents who choose Catholic schools in good times – and before the next crisis comes.

As the editorial explains, the stakes were unimaginably high – and Catholic school leaders bravely persevered and helped students.

In a time of crisis, Catholic schools offered a choice, not an echo

New data suggest that the damage from shutting down schools has been worse than almost anyone expected,” the Economist tweeted recently to promote a new article in its pages that details the academic and social-emotional fallout caused by school shutdowns worldwide. While any spotlight on this cataclysm is welcome, the truth is that many people did expect these shutdowns to be terrible for students and their families. That’s why lots of parents and educators marshaled extraordinary leadership in a time of fear and uncertainty to reopen their schools after the initial Spring 2020 shutdown. And chief among these leaders were the principals and teachers in America’s Catholic schools.

What was it like to stand apart from the crowd in summer 2020 and insist that schools must re-open? For starters, it was scary. Now that the dust has settled, it’s easy to forget how much uncertainty there was two years ago, how little we knew, and how much reopening required a willingness to make hard decisions, guided as best we could at the time by science. It was by far the most challenging months I have experienced in more than twenty years working in schools.

It’s also easy to forget the harshness of the opposition that school leaders faced. Indeed, the preparation any school, district, network, or diocesan leader undertook as they worked to reopen in the fall of 2020 was done against the backdrop of a near constant drumbeat of attacks from teachers unions and their allies suggesting that reopening schools would be tantamount to murder… 

With that as a backdrop, it was nonpublic schools—Catholic schools chief among them—that led the way forward in reopening amidst uncertainty… many of the district schools and charter schools that were not open on the first day of the 2020–21 school year remained online for the bulk of the year, some not fully reopening until fall 2021.

While the impact of these Covid-related policy decisions on enrollment trends is still shaking out, emerging patterns suggest that more parents than ever are seeking alternatives.

Thanks to your support of Catholic schools and school choice, those alternatives can continue to exist for the next generation.

Bishops Celebrate More School Options

School choice is critical to the continued survival of Catholic schools.

Just a few weeks ago, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill expanding choice to every student in the state.

In response, the Catholic Bishops of Arizona said the bill “will increase school choice substantially, which is a very good thing.

They said: “Parents are the primary educators of their children and know what schools best fit the needs of their families. By making the ESA program eligible for all students, many more families will now have a more meaningful option.”

But the work continues.

Already, opponents of school choice are organizing to try to roll this law back and rip away opportunity from families who desperately need it.

In Arizona and other states, you can make a difference by making sure leaders know how much school choice means to you.

The status quo is determined, but so are we.

Supporters of Catholic schools all across the country will prevail when we come together.

Stay tuned for more ways to be part of this mission.