It has been a rough half-century for Catholic schools in the United States. In the mid-1960s, Catholic schools educated some 5.6 million students in 13,000 schools nationwide. As of today, those numbers have fallen by more than half, with fewer than 2 million students attending 6,500 schools. But is there reason to believe those trends may turn around? Are Catholic schools finding new ways to become sustainable that will allow them to persist and possibly even expand?
In this week’s episode of the EdNext podcast, Marty West talks with Andy Smarick, partner at Bellwether Education and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Along with Kelly Robson, Andy is the author of “Innovation in Catholic Education,” an article that appears on the EdNext website.
The title “Innovation in Catholic Education” surely will strike some listeners as an oxymoron. It is hard to imagine an organization more committed to the preservation of tradition than the Catholic Church, and many families who choose a Catholic school presumably do so precisely because of that commitment. But the article article makes the case that a range of innovative activity is in fact underway – and that this is not only good but essential.