Hard hit by demographic changes and competition from charter schools, Catholic schools are trying new strategies to survive, while remaining true to their religious mission, write Kelly Robson and Andy Smarick in Education Next.
Urban Catholic school students – especially those from low-income, minority families — “are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, earn higher wages, and engage in pro-social behaviors like voting and volunteerism,” they write.
At its mid-1960s peak, Catholic schools educated 5.6 million students in approximately 13,000 schools, they write. That’s down to fewer than 2 million students in 6,500 Catholic schools. Many urban schools have closed.
Now, school consortia are helping Catholic schools tackle common problems and achieve economies of scale.
Private school management organizations, nonprofits that manage a set of schools, also provide economies of scale and educational expertise.
Technology is helping boost engagement — and achievement — while reducing costs. Seton Education Partners is helping Catholic schools use blended learning effectively.
Another cost-saving model known as “micro-schooling” splits “students’ time between classroom, home, and online learning,” write Robson and Smarick.
In addition, voucher programs, tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts are helping lower-income parents afford a Catholic education for their children.