Catholic schools throughout our area are preparing to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, which runs today through Saturday.
This year's theme is Catholic Schools Raise the Standards, and activities are planned at churches and schools to help call attention to education that adds a dimension beyond the textbooks, one that encourages students to live their faith as part of their daily lives.
According to the National Catholic Education Association, there are 2,031,455 students enrolled in 6,841 Catholic schools across the nation. A total of 19.3 percent of that enrollment is made up of racial minorities. Professional staff members total 151,385, and the student-teacher ratio is 13 to 1. There were 34 new schools opened last year, while 167 were consolidated or closed.
What may be a little surprising is that 312,732 students, or 15.4 percent of the total enrollment, is non-Catholic.
Education in Catholic schools requires commitment, dedication and sacrifice from parents, who must pay tuition that averages $3,673 per elementary pupil and $8,182 per secondary pupil.
Despite that cost, 1,951 schools have a waiting list for admission.
Like their public school counterparts, Catholic schools develop students who are well-versed in academics. But Catholic schools go beyond that, teaching hope, the belief in right and wrong and faith without the constraints often imposed in our increasingly politically correct world.
With that in mind, we recognize Catholic educators across the Tri-State Area, the families whose children attend the schools and the priests who face a daily struggle to keep their facilities open.