The benefits of Catholic schools Print
Our Catholic Schools

This is the second article in a series leading up to Catholic School Informational Sunday on August 9.

I often meet people who have questions about Catholic schools: What do Catholic schools do? How are they different than any other school? What difference do they make? Why should we consider sending our children when we have good public schools? Why do Catholic schools matter?

I'm glad they asked! The purpose of Catholic schools is to form students in the truth. This means the truth about life, the truth about our humanity, and the truth about our faith. Focusing on this mission yields numerous benefits for students.

Truth about life

First, Catholic schools teach to the whole person. The truth is that people are complex and have many needs.

Not only do our schools satisfy children's natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge, they address students' social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as well.

Truth about humanity

We work with students to develop and form them in every aspect of their humanity.

This includes teaching academics, as well as who we are as humans who communicate, interact, and rely on one another as members of a family, a community, and a larger society.

Truth about faith

This work proceeds through the lens of our Catholic faith as students cultivate their own, personal relationship with Christ. Faith illuminates knowledge leading students to discover the connections and relationships among academic subjects and the many facets of our humanity.

Stemming from this, our students realize that they are unique and loved, that they are part of something much larger than themselves, and that they have an important role to play.

Emphasis on service

Catholic schools emphasize service to others. This is instilled through regular service to the school and local community. Service permeates all learning so that it is not a question of what students do, but who they are. Our students don't just serve others at school; they serve others for life.

Service demands excellence, and excellence is born of high expectations. How can I serve others if what I offer is not worthwhile? How can I serve well if my work ethic, attitude, or knowledge of what I'm doing is poor?

Doing their best

Catholic schools call students to give their best effort, every day, not just in school, but in every task they undertake, including academics, athletics, work, and relationships with family and friends. Through their effort to meet these expectations, Catholic schools help students acquire and develop academic knowledge, emotional resilience, self-discipline, empathy, compassion, motivation, determination, and self-confidence.

Catholic schools help students discover who they are and how they can be the best, both for themselves, and for the world.

Foundation for future

All this combines to form a solid foundation for future education and success in life.

According to national research, the benefits of Catholic schools include: lower student/teacher ratios (12:1 in our diocese) and high student attendance, engagement, and achievement.

Additionally, Catholic high schools have over a 98 percent graduation rate, and 98 percent of graduates enter college or the military. Research shows that graduates of Catholic schools are more likely to vote and are more engaged in their communities through volunteering and civic service.

A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal summarized it this way, "Catholic schools infuse values, beliefs, and standards that children will carry all their lives. They produce a safe learning environment . . . as well as structure and a faith and values based education. Catholic schools create a sense of community and an expectation that every child can and will achieve his or her goals."

Catholic schools matter. They make a difference in the lives of our students, our community, our society, and our world.

As always, thank you for reading. Don't miss the upcoming, August 9th article to discover the good things happening in our Catholic schools and how you can be part of the positive difference they make. Remember, Catholic schools matter.

Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison.