LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?

A Few Back-to-School ‘Boosts’

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The kids are back! School is open!

And we remain ever-grateful for our Catholic schools in this Archdiocese of New York.

They take immense time, effort, sweat, tears, energy... and money! But they are worth it! 

There’s good news about our schools this year.

For our archdiocesan grade schools, we begin the fourth year in a row without the travail of a closing.

Remember how, four years ago, we began a regionalization of our schools. While we still are proud of private and parish-based schools—we still have 50 of them—most of our schools are now regionalized—we have 94 of them.

While not the magic wand to resolve all the problems our schools face—there is no such magic wand; and, besides, every school (government, private, or charter) has such challenges—going regional has helped considerably.

And, after four years, some statistics verify that we’re on the right track:

For the first time in memory, enrollment has not dwindled! 

Every year, since 1965, enrollment in our Catholic schools has gone down. This year, we did not! Now, sure, we’d like to increase the number of children in our classrooms, but we’ll take the good news that at least we did not lose kids this year.

This is due to vigorous efforts by our school office, and a lot of good marketing in our schools.

Test scores are good!

The stats for our experimental “partnership schools” are stellar, outpacing public and charter; our archdiocesan elementary schools continue to report scores higher than the public schools, and near the charters.  We are particularly up there in language skills, and have improved our math scores—although we still have work to do there.

98% of our schools passed the national exam measuring knowledge of the faith! 

Parents sacrifice to send their children to our schools because they form virtue and faith.  If we are weak on that, the schools aren’t worth it.  Those who criticize our schools for not being “Catholic” enough should be swayed by this stat.  In an independent national test, all but four of our schools passed on knowledge of the essentials of our religion.

The initiatives that have resulted in this good news—tuition assistance offered to all our children, not just the inner-city schools; enhanced Catholic identity; energetic marketing, and “hounding” parents that do not re-enroll their kids—must continue.

And it’s not just us here in the archdiocese who noticed all the good things happening in our schools. This summer, the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) recognized our archdiocesan school system with the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, their annual award for leadership in Catholic education. This national organization has been rightfully impressed with the multitude of initiatives emanating from our schools, and given the numerous inquiries we receive from other diocesan school administrators across the country who want to learn more about our successes, it is easy to understand why the NCEA singled out New York for this recognition. 

My prayer—will you join me?—is that this time next year I can report even more good news about our beloved schools.

Thanks to our families, principals, priests, teachers, benefactor and all our parishes for this refreshing back-to-school news.

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