BY RALPH J. DARMENTO
With Catholic Schools Week nearly upon us, I would like to share some important research for families considering a Catholic education.
Catholic schools, whether at the elementary or secondary level, share a rich tradition of integrating faith and culture as well as fostering the development of reason and rationality guided by faith. Students are taught to dream, imagine and create a myriad of possibilities for their future. And research shows the validity of this activity. A Federal Reserve Bank study found that “Catholic schools improve the career income prospects of their students more than public or private school.” The study suggested that there are “aspects of school quality that could affect earnings later in life.”
Catholic school students grow into contributing members of society. Research shows our graduates are more civically engaged, more tolerant of diverse views, and more committed to service as adults. Graduates of Catholic secondary schools are more likely to vote than public school graduates. Studies also find our graduates to be very responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.
Furthermore, Catholic school students demonstrate higher academic achievement than students from similar backgrounds in the public sector. And at least five studies have found that Latino and African American students who attend Catholic schools are “more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to graduate from college than their peers in the public sector.”
Catholic schools teach young people to think critically and creatively; to express themselves articulately; and to be grounded in a rich faith tradition emphasizing moral and ethical development, service to others and leadership skills. If parents want this for their children, I whole-heartedly endorse a Catholic school education.
Brother Ralph J. Darmento, F.S.C., is the deputy superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.