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By Candi Sparks

At a time when the public school system is under so much criticism, working families have found an alternative in Catholic schools, which often reach out to and support communities in need.

The Catholic education model, combining faith-based development and future-focused education, has historically offered many a way out of poverty. During the early-to-mid-20th century, neighborhood public schools were largely overcrowded and not necessarily providing top-notch education. In the early days of the immigration wave, it was primarily Irish and Italian immigrants who sent their children to Catholic schools. To ensure that their children would be taught their values, they opted for a parochial school education.

Today, there is religious diversity in the Catholic school system. In fact, non-Catholics comprise about one-quarter of the student body.

Many Catholic school students are the first ones in their families to graduate from college. In low-income neighborhoods, this means that the school is providing the lion’s share of educational support for children who do not have access to private tutoring or help at home.

There is a 99 percent graduation rate for Catholic high schools in the United States, compared to about a 73 percent public high school graduation rate, according to a report by the National Catholic Education Association. The report also found that 85 percent of Catholic high school graduates attend four-year colleges, compared to 44 percent of public school graduates in the U.S. Overall, Catholic school seems to outperform public school and is a viable, less-expensive system of education in the private sector.

The neighborhood Catholic school offers a wide variety of services, from financial aid to academics and sports as well as spiritual development.

But keeping these schools open has become a challenge. The Catholic school sector is no different than any other, and closings have been publicized. In response, Catholic schools are researching and developing new educational business models. 

To learn more about the options available, visit licatholicelementaryschools.org.

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