Recent studies affirm the ability of Catholic schools to create positive outcomes for students and families. One of the reasons our education model succeeds is a commitment to helping students grow intellectually while demonstrating how to love and serve God by serving others. That principle is integrated into every education program, from small rural schools to those located in urban centers across the country.
The Catholic school is a community rooted in the values of the Gospel where students are encouraged to live their faith. That mission and message extends to their participation in other communities, whether those of family and neighborhoods, or later, in the workplace and beyond. History and experience demonstrate that our contribution to education has been invaluable to families because of the witness it models. It promotes social and civic engagement as it teaches students to be contributing members of their faith communities and society, in service to the common good of all.
In addition to the research on Catholic schools that demonstrates students’ academic achievement, there are studies that point to the benefits of a Catholic education to society at large:
- Catholic schools’ Christian service programs expose students to different communities of need and service, which raises their social awareness and helps build a better society.
- In Catholic schools, children learn to practice cooperation, inclusion, self-discipline and generosity toward one another. This prepares them for democracy and teaches them to respect the opinions of others and promotes social and political tolerance.
- Our students consistently outscore their public school peers on national assessments of U.S. history, geography and civics. This academic knowledge translates into better civic participation and good stewardship of resources.
- Catholic high school graduates are more civically engaged and likely to vote.
- Catholic schools and classrooms are more racially integrated than public schools and they tend to produce graduates who are more tolerant of diverse views.
- Students in our schools participate in voluntary service activities at a higher rate than those in public schools and they are more committed to service as adults.
- Our schools are excellent neighbors. They raise the level of community and contribution, and when we leave, the neighborhood suffers the loss.
- Financial savings for state and local communities are another major contribution of Catholic schools to the common good. Based on the average public school per pupil cost, Catholic schools save the American taxpayers more than 20 billion dollars a year that they would have to spend to educate students if they were in public schools.
Ultimately, our greatest contribution is our graduates, who provide benefits to the communities in which they participate and serve. The incorporation of our faith teaching into our education model helps create generous, socially minded adults ready, willing and able to support their communities and their world.
Source: Catholic Schools as Communities of Social Involvement and Civic Engagement, NCEA Parent News, Vol. 1, No. 9, 2017.