A new article at Reuters addresses the complications facing many faith based schools today. Because they incorporate religion, many people do not think it is fair for them to receive public funds.
Dwindling federal budgets have become a platform for waging wars over which schools deserve funding. This fight has become so overextended that according to Reuters there are even “tensions over publicly funded charter schools which offer Arabic-language instruction.”
It would be more helpful to focus on the quality of the schools and how they are preparing students to become prepared and engaged citizens. Several schools in our network are faith-based, and they all serve low income communities. This means that many children have lowered and waivered tuition, so it is up to the school to raise funds for almost every child. It is terribly hard for them to receive funding, but if funding was more focused on supporting quality schools, this wouldn’t be a problem. There’s room in this country for schools of all types, and school choice advocates understand this and are trying to make school choice available. Schools do not have to operate under the same governance styles or impart the same curriculum to their students to achieve outstanding results. Allowing quality schools of all types to remain open does more to ensure diversity in our country than keeping funding from schools that incorporate religion.
If there was more focus on quality schools regardless of type, STC Associate school King of Glory Lutheran may not have had to close its doors this year. Although not yet a Member school, they were making great strides in overcoming the achievement gap in St. Louis. Average proficiency levels for reading in St. Louis are in the low 30s, but King of Glory average score was 67%. That is a remarkable difference in quality.
It’s also important to collaborate with quality faith-based schools because like other successful schools, they have effective practices to share outside of their religious focus that can be helpful to other schools that need improvement. Instead of ostracizing parochial schools from the education reform conversation, their voices should be heard and supported.
Get to know our faith based schools:
Holy Family School, Chicago, IL. They place an emphasis on problem solving skills and were recently featured on PBS to discuss their innovative funding.
St. Martin de Porres High School, Cleveland, OH. Students participate in a Corporate Work Study Program with entry-level with office positions in banking, law, medicine, finance, and more.
St. Cecilia Academy, St. Louis. They’ve been in their neighborhood for 100 years and their tuition is 80% subsidized for low income students.
The Oaks Academy, Indianapolis, IN. Logic, grammar, and rhetoric are cultivated in all students.
St. Benedict’s Preparatory, Newark, NJ. St. Benedict’s 11-month curriculum encourages students to balance traditional course work and classroom exercises with a diversity of “real-world” community service, work, and independent research and study experiences.
Transfiguration School, New York, NY. Grades 1 through 6 take one music class a week. Transfiguration students achieved 100% in both Math and Reading last year.
GESU School, Philadelphia, PA. Public speaking is emphasized in all grades.
Spruce Hill Christian School, Philadelphia, PA. Curriculum incorporates the Brain Skills program LearningRX which students use at school and home.
The Neighborhood Academy, Pittsburgh, PA. They provide three meals and a snack every day. Evening study hours are mandatory.
Pittsburgh Urban Christian School, Pittsburgh, PA. Each family invests 24 hours of community service to the school each year.
St. Marcus School, Milwaukee, WI. Doors open every morning at 6:30am until 8:30pm.