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Catholic Education

 

Q. How are the Catholic schools doing these days? Are the nuns still strict, and do most people believe they still deliver a quality educational experience?

 

Yes, and yes. For the most part, Catholic schools are thriving in the United States, with costs borne by parental tuition with some supplementation from Catholic voluntary fund-raising efforts. Catholic grade schools are generally owned and operated by local parishes, and the high schools are run by the diocese.

According to U.S. Department of Education figures, the United States had 7,498 Catholic schools in 2006-07, including 6,288 elementary schools and 1,210 secondary schools. In total there were 2,320,651 students, including 1,682,412 students in the elementary/middle schools and 638,239 in high schools.

While most are doing well, there are many Catholic schools in the inner cities which are struggling to keep their doors open, with shrinking student populations and increasingly tough-to-teach enrollees from foreign countries and from households that move around a lot. They are requiring increasing amounts of subsidies from donors and can rely less and less on parental contributions.

In most communities, Catholic grade schools generally spend less and operate smaller schools than their public counterparts, with approximately the same class sizes as public schools. Teachers in Catholic schools generally make less money than in public schools, but ironically, standardized test scores are almost always higher in the Catholic schools than in their neighboring public schools.

Catholic schools are about religious ministry as well as providing education. They include a full curriculum in secular subjects as well as Catholic education. That means the students participate in the sacraments of the Catholic Church, as they study and age, and focus more on religion and theology than most other schools, including the many private secular schools.

You don't have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school, although most Catholic schools require non-Catholic students to take Catholic religion classes.

In many Muslim parts of the world, Catholic schools used to provide top-quality education, better than the locally-provided public schools, but in many areas, it is now against the law to run a Catholic school in those places. In Canada, there are tax-funded Catholic schools, called "separate schools," dating back in that nation's history. Because of pressure from special-interest groups, laws were passed in the late 1990s that some believe watered down the religious aspects of Catholic schools in Canada, but they are still operating and often at public expense.

In New Zealand, Catholic schools are called "integrated schools" because the teachers' salaries and learning materials are tax-funded, but the actual school property is not.

In England and Wales, Catholic schools are either independent, with tuition totally paid by parents, or funded by a combination of taxes and Catholic funds. In Scotland, there are many Catholic schools all fully funded by taxpayers, and nearly half of the children in Northern Ireland are educated in Catholic-managed schools.

The United States had 7,498 Catholic schools in 2006-07, including 6,288 elementary schools and 1,210 secondary schools. In total there were 2,320,651 students, including 1,682,412 students in the elementary/middle schools and 638,239 in high schools.

 

Homework: For more information, see the National Catholic Educational Association.

 

Also see how Catholic education compares statistically to other forms of education on this link from the Center for Education Reform. Many of the statistics are from the National Center on Education Statistics, which publishes a yearly digest.

 

http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=section&pSectionID=15&cSectionID=97

 

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Private Schools 05 2009

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