In a wide-ranging look this week at what is next for Catholic schools who have taken on both the pandemic and its economic impact to stay open this year, the National Catholic Register starts and ends its look at the national picture with a spotlight on one Partnership-Cleveland family.
Author Joan Frawley-Desmond explains:
When Briana McMullins realized that her son was spending almost as much time in the principal’s office as in his second-grade classroom at his suburban public school, the African-American mother of two began the search for a better fit.
After several local private schools turned her son down, he landed a spot at St. Thomas Aquinas School, in Cleveland’s inner-city. The rough neighborhood worried McMullins, but the tuition was fully covered by the state-backed Cleveland Scholarship Program, and the family felt welcomed.
A year later, her son is earning solid grades and loves sharing his newfound knowledge with his mom, who has also been impressed with the school’s commitment to in-person instruction over the past year.
Without St. Thomas Aquinas School and the state scholarship program, which launched in 1996 and now serves more than 7,000 students annually, “people like me would be stuck and our children would miss out,” said McMullins, a pharmacy technician who lost her job during the pandemic and is now studying for a nursing license.
Frawley-Desmond goes on to interview Partnership Superintendent Kathleen Porter-Magee, who shares that more than just government programs are needed to keep families like the McMullins finding a fit in Catholic schools:
Porter-Magee also underscored the need to strengthen curriculum and teacher formation, while simplifying the admission process to make schools more welcoming for families unfamiliar with private education.
She also noted that a drop in Pre-K and Kindergarten enrollment accounted for almost half of the recent decline in students attending Catholic schools, and that parish schools should be reaching out to the parents of these younger children to rebuild their student body for the fall.
“We have a unique moment right now,” she said.
For the full article, click here.