Nationally, we are celebrating the 47th annual Catholic Schools Week from January 27-31. The theme for this year is, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”
It is no secret that Catholic schools in America have been a great success story. From their inception, they have offered a way for children, regardless of their socioeconomic background or religion, to receive a quality education. As Cardinal Hickey of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., once said, “We don’t educate children because they’re Catholic but because we are Catholic.”
The benefits offered by Catholic elementary and high schools are many, and a few, quite surprising. Catholic schools tend to operate as communities rather than bureaucracies, which is linked to higher levels of teacher commitment, student engagement, and student achievement.
Roughly 2 million children attend Catholic schools nationally, while 50 million children attend public schools. The minority population accounts for 19.8% of the Catholic school population (15% Latino; 8% Black/African-American; 5% Asian-American; 5.6% Multi-racial). The mean cost per pupil at Catholic schools is $5,847; the national per pupil average is $12,054.
A study by Brinig and Garnett demonstrated that neighborhood social cohesion decreases and disorder increases following the closure of a Catholic elementary school. Police beats in Chicago that experienced at least one Catholic school closure had a higher crime rate than those in which there were no closures. (Brinig & Garnett, 2011, p. 906)
All of us at Holy Redeemer Parish know what a treasure we have in our school. We are blessed with probably the most diverse student body of any school in the Archdiocese of Portland. We have teachers and a staff who are here because they believe in the mission of Catholic schools and make significantly less than their peers at area public schools. We have parents willing to give of their time and talent through the Parent Club, the annual School Auction, the School Advisory Committee, and the School Finance Council.
The challenges are many. We need to increase our ability to pay our teachers a living wage. We need to raise more funds for financial assistance so that more underrepresented students, especially from our parish families, can send their children to our school. At present, it costs $8,889.21 to educate a student at Holy Redeemer School. At present, what we charge for tuition only covers about 65% of the overall cost of educating a student.
I wish to thank all of our parishioners for their commitment and support of Holy Redeemer School. Our school is a real success story. Let us continue to strive to strengthen our school in its core mission so that many more students, for years to come, can benefit from a Holy Redeemer education.
Yours in Christ, Fr. Pat