The Benefits of Catholic Schools

During Finals week,  I had an hour-long conversation with my friends at dinner. (When I should have been studying!) We were talking about religion mainly, as most of my friends were observing the conversation that was happening on my blog. My friends were all from a variety of religious backgrounds, and I was the only practicing Catholic at our table. I remember suggesting that sending your child to a religious school for their elementary years was immensely beneficial to the child, especially if you were raising your family in that faith. I used myself as an example because my Parents sent both myself and my brother to a parochial school a town over because the public school options were rather slim when I was 5. I suggested to my friends that what I learned in the house about morality was reinforced at school and what I learned about my faith at school was reinforced at home (and by going to Mass every week)

I didn’t realize that there are other reasons why a family might prefer a parochial education for their young children until I stumbled across an OP-ED column on the Boston Globe’s website last night/this morning.  The author, who is a freelance writer living in Cambridge MA, needs to pick schools for his children for next school year. The Cambridge School district allows parents to choose 3 elementary schools out of the dozen in the city. If the child doesn’t get into those three, then what are the parents to do? A plan B for private schools usually comes with a $20,000 a year price tag, but the parochial schools offer education for less, sometimes a fourth of the cost of regular private schools.

There have been studies that determined that students in elementary parochial schools have a leg up on public school kids. Also students from economically disadvantaged areas/families tend to excel when they are in parochial schools. The benefits seem to go beyond just the (possible) religion reinforcement.

I don’t feel that my personal experience really falls into either of the above examples. While I know going to St. Anthony’s for seven years (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) was beneficial to my upbringing, I have trouble seeing how it was beneficial to my education. I seemed to grasp concepts quicker than my class and sat at top of my class all six years they kept track. (At the end of every year, I had the highest average) Looking back, I wasn’t very challenged at all. It was only when I tested into Boston Latin School for seventh grade that school became a (mostly fun) challenge for me.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Benefits of Catholic Schools

  1. Pingback: The Benefits of Catholic Schools « Blog: Caitlin: Walsh: Writer School’s Rate

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  3. Lianna

    I think it honestly depends on the type of school and the quality of education given. Form my own experience the type of program offered and the teacher for the classes makes all the difference. I was in the advanced programs for Pre-k and kindergarten when I lived in Brooklyn and thrived there, and when my family moved my teachers out on Long Island always had issues with me being bored in class for the first two years (learning to read in kindergarten and already doing math made me a little trouble maker, if you can believe it and the teachers refused to give me extra work, even at my parents’ request). It wasn’t until third grade that my teachers challenged me, and that continued throughout the rest of my education, despite it being entirely in a public school setting (including when I was in Brooklyn).

    It also had to do with parental involvement as well, when talking about student’s abilities and education. You could have a student who goes to a private or parochial, yet have little parental involvement, or a student who goes to public school with a large amount of parental involvement. Or the reverse can happen. Parents who care about their children’s education generally have children who do well in school.

    There’s also the teacher factor. You already know how I feel about this. Teachers who decide to teacher for the wrong reasons, such as vacation time (nonexistent really because of all the paper work, lesson planning, write ups, IEPs, grading, and all sorts of stuff that does not go on during class time when there’s actual teaching), benefits, and a secure job (which can be denied if you’re not given tenure) are horrible teachers. Those who care about the students, actually like their jobs (extra work and all), and given more than 110% generally have better students.

    • I think that’s one of the (many) reasons why I did so well in school, my parents were uber invested in my education. (I can’t really say involved with because it wasn’t like they were in the PTA or anything (I don’t think St. Anthony’s had one))

      And in one of the books that the column mentions, the author brings up parent involvment. Because the parents are willing to pay for an education, they are more involved than the Public school parents.

      Unfortunately there were some bad teachers at BLS. My brother got more than his fair share of them. But I think by the time we had gotten into BLS, most students already knew they could excel on their own. At St. Anthony’s we had the same teachers (for the most part) and most of them were really good, but they couldn’t control my class. There was only 3 nuns teaching when I started, and by the time I finished there was only 1. She was teaching fourth grade and was awesome.

      • Lianna

        Agree.

        Sort of agree, because you do get the parents who might think their child can do no wrong and when the teachers says he/she is acting up, then there are issues. I think too that with private schools you can be kicked out and parents really don’t want to waste the money. Public schools, well you can be expelled and suspended, which does go on record, but by law you are to attend school till you’re 16.

        There are bad teachers everywhere. I had to observe one this past semester in my mom’s school. He was not a music teacher, he was a musician who could not get a job, so he got his teaching creds and then went to work as a teacher. That and he left me alone with a 4th grade class for a good 15 minutes. Classroom teacher was still in the room, but knew nothing about music. So I ended up teacher the class and had the principle or AP came in, it would be my ass on the line, and my mom’s, as well as that teacher that left. But the students learned more from me in those 15 minutes then they did with the music teacher.

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