Can We Double the Number of Latinos in Catholic Schools? Notre Dame Says YES

Here are some staggering statistics about Latinos in Catholic schools:

Only 53% of Latinos graduate from high school in 4 years
Children in Catholic Schools are 42% more likely to graduate high school
Only 3% of Latinos send their kids to Catholic schools

The University of Notre Dame and the Alliance for Catholic Education says it is time to make a change. The “Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino Families and Children in Catholic Schools” was formed in 2008 and today, in honor of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, they published their groundbreaking report.

Its promise? Double the percentage of Latinos attending Catholic schools by 2020. That’s 1 million new students in Catholic schools in 10 years.

The Latino Task Force Report issued four recommendations to meet its goal of raising the percentage of Latinos in Catholic schools to 6%. These recommendations are:

I. Develop the demand
II. Develop access
III. Develop leaders
IV. Transform Catholic school systems

You can help! With number of Latino Catholics in the United States rising, there is no better opportunity for the Church to take up this challenge. How can you join the mission?

First, visit the Catholic School Advantage website to get informed and stay connected. Download the report or order your copy. There are some quick suggestions on how to get involved for bishops, superintendants, pastors, principals, teachers, and school advisory board members.

Share your stories of hope with the rest of the country:

  • Share your success story
  • Suggest a school that is a sign of hope
  • Make recommendations. Share best practices

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  1. TJ D'Agostino says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Jared, on the important work of the Catholic School Advantage campaign to improve educational opportunity for Latino children. Thanks also for the many links to the new Catholic School Advatage website, We hope to make this a resource for information, research, and a hub for great ideas about how to extend the Catholic School Advantage to more Hispanic children. Thanks, Jared, for spreading the word!

  2. I rather doubt picking up all the Latino kids in the local public school and moving them to a Catholic school is going to magically increase their graduation rates. Catholic schools require parents who 1) have the money for tuition or 2) have the drive and wherewithal to arrange for some alternative to tuition AND 3)care enough about education to do 1 or 2. Kids of those kind of parents, as a whole do well in school. Kids whose parents don't value education, don't have the ability or desire to "work" the system and are too busy putting food on the table tend to have trouble in school–and tend to end up in the public school system.

  3. Peter Parker says:

    RAnn raises an important point, and it's the source of some tension about the research on the "Catholic school advantage." Some folks say that the advantage doesn't come from the school itself but rather it comes from motivated parents who care enough to send their kids to a private school and pay tuition. But researchers have shown pretty conclusively that the advantage comes from school-based effects, not family effects. Andrew Greeley was one of the first to show this, in his 1982 book Catholic Schools and Minority Students. And Bryk, Lee, and Holland's 1993 book, Catholic Schools and the Common Good, confirmed and strengthened this point. So it's not that graduation rates "magically" go up – researchers have shown that they go up because Catholic schools are good at educating low-income and minority kids.

    Also, I think RAnn's suggestion that Catholic schools require parents who are either well-off or unusually motivated. Consider Milwaukee, where the nation's oldest voucher program makes it relatively easy for 20,000 low-income families to choose private schooling without having enough money. The result is an incredible school like St Anthony, on Milwaukee's southside, which is the largest Catholic school in the country with 1,000+ Latino kids in preK-8.

  4. Bruce Wayne says:

    Peter is totally correct on the strong research foundation for the Catholic School Advantage and for pointing out the enormous social justice benefit that Parental Choice programs can play, allowing poor families to send their children to what are essentially college preparatory schools. Parental choice programs have also provided a powerful research mechanism to end this debate more conclusively and forcefully contradict Rann's suggestion above. Rigorous research on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program suggests that randomly selected children that receive a scholarship to attend a private school have significant improvement gains in reading, as well as benefits on a number of other indicators (

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