Catholic schools in the United States

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St. Thomas High School, a Catholic high school, in Houston

Catholic schools in the United States are accredited by independent and/or state agencies, and teachers are generally certified. Catholic schools are supported through tuition payments and fund raising.

Contents

Operation

Most Catholic elementary schools are operated by a local parish community, while secondary schools are usually operated by a diocese or archdiocese, or a religious institute, and often those in major cities are also attached to a Catholic university.

In the United States, the term parochial school is commonly used to refer to Catholic schools, to distinguish it from private school (which can refer to either a nonsectarian school or other church-based school).[citation needed]

Some schools (normally elementaries) are owned by a particular parish while high schools are often owned by a group of parishes (more common in the South), a religious institute (more common in Northeast), or a diocese. In the West, a mixture of schools operated by dioceses and religious institutes is common, with the older schools generally run by such institutes. Except in the case of independent schools, local Catholic priests are invariably members of the school board, and often at secondary schools are found among the teaching staff as well. In some dioceses the bishop holds the title of superintendent, while others have delegated this responsibility to the head of the Office of Catholic Schools. In terms of practicality, it is often the local priests who fulfill this function.

Organization

Mater Dei High School, a small Catholic high school in New Jersey

Most Catholic elementary schools tend to be smaller than their public counterparts, and it is not unusual for such schools to have only one teacher and classroom per grade level. Additionally, grade levels often separated between grammar and middle schools (in the public schools) are generally not separated in Catholic schools; thus a student may attend the same school from kindergarten or first grade through eighth grade. One other major difference is that in most parts of the country, public schools provide bus service to their students, while Catholic schools almost never do.

Entrance requirements

Catholic schools in the United States accept students of all religions, ethnic backgrounds, and ability. More competitive Catholic secondary schools tend to have tighter academic requirements and/or an entrance exam. It is a common expectation that non-Catholic students take religion classes and participate in the spiritual exercises of the school. Many schools have a policy (sometimes written) banning proselytizing in any form.

Enrollment

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.[1] Enrollment in the nation’s Catholic schools has steadily dropped to less than half of its peak at five million students 40 years ago, The New York Times reported in early 2009. At its peak in 1965, the number of U.S. parochial schools was more than 12,000, and roughly half of all Catholic children in America attended Catholic elementary schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. The same share in 2009 is about 15 percent. Among Latinos, the fastest-growing church group — soon to comprise a majority of Catholics in the United States — it is three percent. The article also reported on "dozens of local efforts" to turn the tide, including by the Archdiocese of Chicago and Washington, D.C. and dioceses in Memphis and Wichita, Kansas, as well as in the New York City metro area.[2]

Public funding debate

Heavily Protestant in the 19th century, most states passed a state constitutional amendment, referred to as the Blaine Amendment, forbidding tax money be used to fund parochial schools, a possible outcome of heavy immigration from Catholic Ireland after the 1840s. In 2002, the United States Supreme Court partially vitiated these amendments, in theory, when they ruled that vouchers were constitutional if tax dollars followed a child to a school, even if it were religious. However, no state had, by 2009, changed its laws to allow this.[3]

And by 2012, Catholic schools were being squeezed out of the education market by publicly funded Charter schools.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Annual Data Report - National Catholic Educational Association
  2. ^ "For Catholic Schools, Crisis and Catharsis" by Paul Vitello and Winnie Hu The New York Times January 18, 2009 p. A29 NY edition. Retrieved 1-17-09.
  3. ^ Bush, Jeb (March 4, 2009). NO:Choice forces educators to improve. The Atlanta Constitution-Journal. 
  4. ^ Cavanagh, Sean. "Catholic Schools Feeling Squeeze From Charters." Education Week, 29 August 2012.