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Why Catholic Schools? An Economic, Spiritual, and Intellectual analysis.
As of this writing, it is estimated that the average cost of an education in our traditional Rhode Island public schools is approximately $14,000. This $14,000 is the cost for both an elementary and secondary school education. Presently, the average cost of a Catholic elementary tuition per year in the state of Rhode Island is approximately $4,500 while the average cost of a Catholic secondary school tuition per year is approximately $10,500. On average, Catholic schools save the state of Rhode Island approximately $200 million per year. If all Catholic schools were to close (not including other private and charter schools), this would cause a considerable financial burden to local municipalities as well as Rhode Island taxpayers.
Catholic schools boast a 100% graduation rate on the elementary school level and a 99.5% graduate rate on the high school level. Of those graduating high school, 98% continue on to college. According to a March 20, 2009 Providence Journal article, “Rhode Island’s public high school graduation rate improved over the previous year despite new, tougher diploma requirements, with 74% of the Class of 2008 finishing within four years, up from about 70% for the Class of 2007” (newsblog.projo.com/2009). The graduation rate in the urban school districts improved by 5 points to 61% according to a March 2009 news release from the Rhode Island Department of Education.
Studies conducted by independent researchers over the past 20 years yield several findings that help explain the success of Catholic schools. (1) Communities sharing common values exist within Catholic schools, and between the schools and the families attending those schools. (2) The level of involvement, commitment, and expectations on the part of Catholic school parents and teachers is very high. (3) Catholic schools offer a higher level of discipline and order and (4) Policies regarding course work, homework, and ability level grouping are extremely effective.
Inspired by the mission of Jesus and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Providence are centers of education where students witness, share, and grow in the Catholic faith community. Within a framework of Catholic Christian values, our schools strive to provide academic excellence, to nurture spiritual, physical, and emotional growth and to assist students to become lifelong promoters of the Gospel message.
Catholic schools provide Catholic tradition and academic excellence in a community grounded in faith. Catholic schools offer a balanced curriculum with a strong emphasis on moral development, service to others, and leadership skills. Catholic schools provide a child with strong preparation for future education and provide a safe and disciplined environment. Catholic schools give individual attention to students inside a caring community.
Catholic schools provide our Church with an evangelization of our Catholic faith. Evangelization is, therefore, the mission of the Church; that is, she must proclaim the good news of salvation to all, generate new creatures in Christ through Baptism, and train them to live knowingly as children of God.
She, the Church, establishes her own schools because she considers them as a privileged means of promoting the formation of the whole man, since the school is a centre in which a specific concept of the world, of man, and of history is developed and conveyed.
The Catholic school forms part of the saving mission of the Church, especially for education in the faith. Remembering that “the simultaneous development of man’s psychological and moral consciousness is demanded by Christ almost as a pre-condition for the reception of the befitting divine gifts of truth and grace”, the Church fulfills her obligation to foster in her children a full awareness of their rebirth to a new life. It is precisely in the Gospel of Christ, taking root in the minds and lives of the faithful, that the Catholic school finds its definition as it comes to term with the cultural condition of the times.
Mindful of the fact that man has been redeemed by Christ, the Catholic school aims at forming in the Christian those particular virtues which will enable him to live a new life in Christ and help him to play faithfully his part in building up the Kingdom of God.
The task of a Catholic school is fundamentally a synthesis of culture and faith, and a synthesis of faith and life: the first is reached by integrating all the different aspect of human knowledge through the subjects taught, in the light of the Gospel; the second in the growth of the virtues characteristic of the Christian.
The specific mission of a Catholic school is a critical, systematic transmission of culture in the light of faith and the bringing forth of the power of Christian virtue by the integration of culture with faith and of faith with living. The Catholic school is aware of the importance of the Gospel-teaching as transmitted through the Catholic Church. It is, indeed, the fundamental element in the educative process as it helps the pupil towards his conscious choice of living a responsible and coherent way of life.
The Catholic school, far more than any other, must be a community whose aim is the transmission of values for living. Its work is seen as promoting a faith relationship with Christ in Whom all values find fulfillment.
Catholic schools are often the Church’s most effective contribution to those families who are poor and disadvantaged, especially in poor inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas. Catholic schools cultivate healthy interaction among the increasingly diverse populations of our society.