Though the last half-century has not been kind to Catholic schools, together, educators, school leaders, community leaders, families, and pastors are working to breathe new life into struggling Catholic schools. As I’ve written previously, these efforts may be the beginning of a renaissance in Catholic education.
In a new guidebook just released last week, Andy Smarick and I chronicle many of these exciting new ideas and innovations. Here’s a sneak peak of some of the promising work that’s happening across the country:
- To help more families access high-quality school options, including Catholic schools, organizations like Families Empowered in Houston use phone calls, emails, social media, and choice fairs to communicate with families on lengthy charter school waitlists about their school options.
- New models of schools, including private school management organizations like Notre Dame ACE Academies, Jubilee Schools, Catholic Partnership Schools, Cristo Rey, Independence Mission Schools, Partnership Schools, San Jose Drexel Initiative, and Faith in the Future, are helping catalyze enrollment in Catholic schools and creating a model for long-term sustainability.
- Organizations like Seton Education Partners have helped Catholic schools implement blended learning models, leading to reduced per-pupil expenditures and increased academic performance.
- Talent pipeline organizations like the Accelerate Institute, the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Teaching Fellows, the NYC Leadership Academy, and the Lynch Leadership Academy are working to recruit and train smart, talented individuals to teach in and lead Catholic schools.
- Organizations like the American Federation for Children and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice are working to expand the reach of private school choice programs so more students have access to their local Catholic schools.
- New organizations like The Drexel Fund are seeking to stimulate investment in Catholic schools by creating new high-quality seats and expanding high-quality networks. Others, like the Philadelphia School Partnership, are helping fund city-based, “sector-agnostic” investments in district, charter, and Catholic schools.
In talking to the leaders of these organizations, their hope and optimism about the future of Catholic education is palpable. And the future does look bright: Combining the time-tested Catholic school model with today’s ideas and innovations means that thousands more of our nation’s children will have the opportunity to access a high-quality, Catholic faith-based education.