Lessons From Charter Schools for Catholic Education?
Catholic schools, which have seen their enrollments decline, can help themselves financially and academically by borrowing strategies from an emergent competitor—charter schools—a new report argues.
The Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank based in Arlington, Va., says that academic models such as “blended learning,” which combine technological and traditional instruction, can allow Catholic schools to customize academic strategies to the needs of individual students and also save those schools money.
Charter schools have become major competitors to Catholic schools in recent years, notes the report, highlighting a trend identified by other researchers. Many charters are opening in urban neighborhoods where Catholic schools traditionally have had a strong presence. Charters, like Catholic schools, are attractive to families who want a demanding curriculum and a stuctured approach to academics and discipline, notes the author of the report, Sean Kennedy. Today, charters “offer an education of comparable quality [to Catholic schools] for no cost,” he writes.
According to Kennedy, charter school enrollment will surpass that of Catholic schools for the first time during the 2012-13 academic year. The number of students in each sector is currently roughly the same—a little more than 2 million. In an interview, he said that projection assumes that the decline in Catholic school enrollment continues over the coming year and that charter school enrollment continues to grow at its current pace. [more]