Let’s stand up for Catholic schools that stand up for our children

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court gave victory to advocates of school choice and religious freedom. It has 6-3 inches. ruled over Carson vs Makino That Maine can no longer exclude religious schools from state-funded private school tuition programs. This decision, along with 2020 Espinoza vs. Montana Department of RevenueClears the way for a new approach to education in America, one that ensures that religious schools are no longer excluded from important sources of funding and support.

The Supreme Court news could not have come at a more critical time for the nation’s Catholic schools. For a generation, the story of urban Catholic schools has been that of decline. Between 2000 and 2012, more than 1,900 Catholic schools closed, and were concentrated in closed communities with few options.

Yet, despite all odds, the story is now heading from decline to revival. This year, Catholic schools saw the biggest year-on-year enrollment growth in two decades as parents looked for schools that were safe, open to individualized learning, and taught lasting values, building character. and focusing on academic rigor. ,

The time to ensure this resurrection is now. States should allow families choosing Catholic schools access to the same educational resources and programs as those who have chosen secular education.

It is often said that an irrevocable fact of American life is that families place faith in their local public schools. Yet, over the past two and a half years, parents have become increasingly disillusioned, as large public districts struggle to increase distance learning, teacher unions struggle to keep schools closed, and national public-school organizations. The leaders tried to exclude parents from the critical curriculum. and instructional decisions.

In contrast, Catholic schools stepped forward to provide parents with what they needed: personalized education they could count on; Rigorous, content-rich instructions for your kids; And the sense of belonging and community that was lost during the pandemic. Indeed, at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, while only 43 percent of public schools and only 34 percent of charter schools reopened for in-person learning, a whopping 92 percent of Catholic schools either full-time or in-person Offered or Hybrid Learning.

Students wearing facemasks attend their first day at school after summer break at St. Lawrence Catholic School, north of Miami, on August 18, 2021.
Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

This success of the Catholic school in offering personalized learning was more notable because it was driven not by large inflows of federal or state dollars, but by the decision of hundreds of individual school and diocesan leaders to find a way to serve their communities. was inspired. ,

This affiliation—public schools brimming with cash but less on actual education, compared to the poor, cash-poor but leadership-rich Catholic schools that—through thick and thin—awakened parents to the need for school choice. remain open. Over the past two years, parents across the country have voted on their feet, fleeing public schools and descending into Catholic, private, and homeschooled communities.

Indeed, as a new Manhattan institution report good Details, Catholic school enrollment nationwide increased by 3.8 percent in 2021-2022 – the biggest year-on-year enrollment increase in this century. Enrollment jumped in every region of the country in 2021, and enrollment in Catholic schools increased even in states that saw a decrease in the total number of school children. For example, in Virginia, which became the focus of the national school reopening debate, Catholic school enrollment increased by about 9 percent in 2021—one of the largest increases in the nation.

When it comes to K-12 education, it’s long past time for government officials to listen to parents’ voices and recognize the importance of making choices to meet children’s needs. Catholic schools were when families most needed a better option, and they will continue to put children first for years to come if we only recognize that they deserve public support.

Last week, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.), Tim Scott (RSC), Steve Dines (R-Mont.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) did just that. Children’s Educational Choices Act, After $190 billion in federal education aid to districts, the bill starts the playing field in the evening, providing $10 billion in annual tax credits to donors of scholarship programs for needy families looking for education options. This is an important start and should be supported and built on with additional federal and state programs.

COVID-19 has changed a lot about our country – how we work, how we travel and how we educate. Let’s write a new chapter in American education, involving Catholic schools that have proven transformative over time in helping families achieve the American Dream.

Kathleen Porter-Maggie, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is superintendent of Partnership Schools, a network of seven urban Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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