Vouchers Breathe New Life into Shrinking Catholic Schools

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I can’t believe it’s 2012 and we still don’t have universal school choice. Republicans from coast to coast share in the blame for that sad fact, though there have been a few examples of leadership around the country. Too few.

Of course there’s no reason for my surprise since (again with a few exceptions) Republicans haven’t been advancing any policy reform for many years. That’s right, none. Just their own reelection. “Reelection to do what?” you might ask. “Don’t ask that!,” the politicians squeak, “we have to get elected first!” And so it goes…while every twelve years another group of Americans have passed through the K-12 system where they were, for the most part, not only under-served but mal-educated.

The following is a report from the NCPA:

For the first time in decades, Catholic education is showing signs of life. Driven by expanding voucher programs, outreach to Hispanic Catholics and donations by business leaders, Catholic schools in several major cities are swinging back from closures and declining enrollment, says the Wall Street Journal.

This is not to say that Catholic schools on the whole are growing again — national statistics show that their share of student enrollment is still shrinking. However, the growing availability of vouchers is slowing losses and contributing to growth in some communities where they are available.

  • Catholic elementary schools in Chicago saw enrollment increase 3 percent this year and 1 percent last year — the first two-year growth spurt since 1965.
  • Greater Boston elementary schools had a 2 percent bump — the first in 20 years.

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