Saturday, August 15, 2009

Catholic Schools Work for the Kids Who Attend Them - School Choice Needs Town Halls

My youngest, Clare, begins her high school experience next week at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School - the largest all-girls school in America. Clare graduated from St. Cajetan Grammar School in our Morgan Park Neighborhood. Her girlfriends are going to Mother McAuley, Marist, St. Ignatius and St. Francis of Assisi. The boys are going to Mount Carmel, St. Rita, Marist and Brother Rice. White, Black and Hispanic - they are going to Catholic High Schools.

Mother McAuley costs about $ 8,000 and change with tuition and fees each year and most of the other schools round out about the same with St. Ignatius Prep topping the crowd with its menu. The path to success is expensive - very expensive, because Catholic schools encourage not just participation but full immersion in activities that strengthen the moral, civic and religious virtues. Kids like Clare become Catholic League Athletes - cheerleaders, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, Lacrosse, Rugby players, wrestlers, as well as track and distance runners. They work on Dramatic, Choral, Polyphonic productions as musicians, singers, actors, stage hands, lighting technicians and even crowd control. Life skills and people skills are part of benefits pad for in time, treasure and talent.

Catholic Schools Superintendent Sister Mary Paul McCaughey works, from what I can tell to be, a fifteen to twenty hour day bringing people of talent and treasure together in order to squeeze out some time for Catholic Schools. James O'Connor, Josh Hale and Tom Zbierski of the Big Shoulders Fund are shepherding millions of dollars in gifts so that any family wishing to commit to Catholic Schools can afford to do just that. This genuine commitment is learned when people are young.

The kids in Catholic Schools learn stewardship and the value of a buck, as most of them also try to find part-time jobs to help the Old Man and the Old Lady, one or other, or both, to meet tuition and expenses costs.

Kids learn what it means to do without - tonier vacations for the family, Gold-Cable Packages, water-sport toys, and time in front of the Idiot Box (TV) or thumbing the controls of X-Box and Text-messaging appartii.

The investment in Catholic Schools is a community forming activity that is in fact an extension of the Parish Life - we are responsible for each other. The Best example of this reality is Chicago's Big Shoulder Fund that provides millions of dollars in aid to inner city families who can not afford the cost of Catholic Schools.

I work at Leo High School that is 99.9% funded by white Leo Alumni who are graduates of that school from the 1930's, '40's, 50's. 60's, 70's and 80's. Leo has been 100% African American since the 1990's; however, men like Frank Considine ( '39) Bill Koloseike ('45), Andy McKenna & Dick Landis ('47), Tom Owens ('54), Don Flynn ('56), Joe Powers ( '70) and Bob Schemel ('71) have contributed millions of dollars to Leo High School over the years. The real miracle beyond these gargantuan sums from the very succesful great guys named above are the endless drops of $50, $100,$500, $ 1,000 and above by hundreds of Leo Men, who also open the doors of the 1926 School at 5:30 a.m. and tutor the kids for A.C.T. and S.A.T. prep like Denny Conway and Jack O'Keefe, or fill the bleachers at every event like Bob Hylard, Frank McDermott, Bill and Jack Farnan, Jim Farrell, Rich and Jim Furlong, Gene Earner and all of his many sons, Dan Stecich, Larry Lynch, Tom Lynch and . . . you get the idea.

Catholic Schools make a better America and very good Americans. Catholic Schools are the Original Gangsters* (The OGs) of Faith Based Initiatives. Catholic Schools are unapologtically Catholic and teach without bowing to the 'Tyranny of Relativism,' to quote the Pope, which has had all Public Education in a Full Nelson Head-lock for decades. Catholc Schools teach from a position of Faith and that Faith is rooted in unshakeable truths - You don't steal, you don't kill, you don't lie, you don't sleep around like an HBO hero, you don't forget that you are obligated to other people. That's Commitment.

An interesting fact from a recent study noted that Catholics who attend Catholic schools tended to remain married to the same partners for life. Catholics don not find ease and comfort in the Faith but endurance and charity. Charity means hard work and developing a big set of shoulders.

The Big Shoulders Fund is rooted in the Courage and Commitment that was developed in and around Catholic Schools. The money available to inner-city families did not get there by Osmosis.

Real School Reform depends upon the vitality of Catholic Schools. Catholic Schools offer competition -if not accountability.

When politicians and hand-wringing activists and think-tank agendanistas get wise to themselves they will see that Catholic Schools are the hub of genuine Reform. Ask Paul Vallas, who succeeded in Chicago by following the Catholic School gradus and took those reform victories to Philly and New Orleans.

Americans need to demand Town halls on Real Reform in Education. If you think Health Care is a concern, hold the phone on Education Reform!

Click my post title and commit to Catholic Schools.

Here are some findings on Catholic Schools by the Rand Corporation that are being forgotten:

In a study published in 1990,. . .the Rand Corporation analyzed big-city high schools to determine how education for low income minority youth could be improved.2 It looked at 13 public, private, and Catholic high schools in New York City that attracted minority and disadvantaged youth. Of the Catholic school students in these schools, 75 to 90 percent were black or Hispanic. The study found that:

The Catholic high schools graduated 95 percent of their students each year, while the public schools graduated slightly more 50 percent of their senior class;

Over 66 percent of the Catholic school graduates received the New York State Regents diploma to signify completion of an academically demanding college preparatory curriculum, while only about 5 percent of the public school students received this distinction;

85 percent of the Catholic high school students took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), compared with just 33 percent of the public high school students;

The Catholic school students achieved an average combined SAT score of 803, while the public school students' average combined SAT score was 642; and

60 percent of the Catholic school black students scored above the national average for black students on the SAT, and over 70 percent of public school black students scored below the same national average.
More recent studies confirm these observations. As parents, politicians, and concerned observers become aware of the benefits of Catholic schooling, particularly for the poor, the rhetoric demanding action builds. Syndicated columnist William Raspberry, a self-described "Reluctant Convert to School Choice," wrote recently, "It seems as obvious for poor children as for rich ones that one-size-fits-all education doesn't make sense."3 Furthermore, according to a recent survey conducted by Terry Moe, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and John Chubb, founding partner and curriculum director for the Edison Project, a stunning 83 percent of public school parents and 82 percent of inner-city poor parents want parochial schools to be included in the choice of schools to which they can send their children.4

That was in 1990, boys and girls and public schools have performed much worse, while Catholic Schools continue perform so much better.

*OG - Urba Dictionary
An Original Gangsta or Original Gangster.
Yo, What up OG? What's good in tha hood? Catholic School, Tru Dat.

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