This week’s celebration of Catholic Schools Week is a good time to reflect on the important place Catholic schools have in our communities.
This year's theme — Catholic Schools, Dividends for Life: Faith, Knowledge, Discipline, Morals — commemorates the schools and students who support Catholic education. National studies indicate that parents choose Catholic education for their children for three important reasons: higher academic achievement of Catholic school students, a safe and disciplined learning environment and a comprehensive education including Catholic religious education and strong moral values.
However, a fact often overlooked is that Catholic schools also provide a very substantial financial gift to our nation. Nationally, Catholic schools provide over $15 billion savings to local, state and federal governments. Here in Rhode Island, Catholic schools provide the over-burdened public school system a vast savings that is in the millions annually. This savings to both local and state government would not exist if Catholic school students attended public schools. Imagine class sizes in public schools throughout the state if Catholic schools did not exist.
Our Catholic schools face many challenges today and in the future. Chief among these challenges are financial and they are real and in some cases they are urgent. Many of our local Catholic schools face the continuing pressure of increasing costs, rising tuitions and as a result, often a decline in enrollment. The reality for state and local governments is that every closing of a Catholic school leads to an increased cost to the state and local communities.
The parents of our Catholic school students make such tremendous personal and financial sacrifice to ensure their children a quality Catholic education. They, along with our administrators and teachers, help to provide a first class education with few financial resources. As we recognize Catholic Schools Week it is important to recognize the real dividends that Catholic schools pay out to our nation, state and public school students and teachers. Let us all count the dividends this week of a well-educated and knowledgeable work force, a virtuous and faithful citizenry, and a great savings for taxpayers, all made possible from the hard work and dedication of Catholic school families, teachers, administrators and pastors. So in this time of economic decline be sure to celebrate the dividends accrued from our Catholic schools!