Editorial – Expanding access to schools

MarnieMcAllister2016-w
Marnie McAllister

Every single grade-school student who demonstrated financial need received a scholarship to attend a Catholic school this fall.
That’s an impressive feat.

Exactly 2,650 students, as of Aug. 18, had qualified for aid. There are 300 more children receiving aid this year than last year. That’s enough to fill a healthy-sized school.
All told, students in Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic grade schools will receive $5.8 million in tuition assistance for the 2016-2017 school year. Ponder that figure for a minute. That’s a big number that represents enormous generosity.

The Archdiocese of Louisville’s 110 parishes directly gave $1.8 million to tuition assistance. The archdiocese, which, of course, is comprised of its parishes and parishioners, gave another $1.2 million.

The Catholic Education Foundation, which is funded by donations, provided another $2.5 million. And the final $300,000 came from two sources — School Choice Scholarships and Community Catholic Center.

All of this funding comes down to a common source: Catholics around the Archdiocese of Louisville and their friends who believe in Catholic education.
These donors deserve our gratitude.

The Archdiocese of Louisville and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the public policy arm of Kentucky’s four bishops, hope to expand this type of giving even more. They belong to a coalition called EdChoice Kentucky, whose purpose is to give families more choices in education by removing the financial barriers to non-public schools.

EdChoice supports state legislation that would give a tax credit to those who make donations to organizations that grant scholarships, such as the Catholic Education Foundation. The scholarships would be earmarked for need-based aid.

This legislation has the potential to significantly expand tuition assistance for low- and middle-income families. And it’s well-worth our time and attention to learn more about the idea.

How many more children might benefit from a faith-based education or small class sizes or a unique teaching method offered by a non-public school?
How might these opportunities benefit students living in poverty? How might they benefit a child with Down syndrome?

In the U.S. bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops write, “All persons have a right to receive a quality education. Young people, including those who are poor and those with disabilities, need to have the opportunity to develop intellectually, morally, spiritually, and physically, allowing them to become good citizens who make socially and morally responsible decisions. This requires parental choice in education.”

While public schools are often a good fit for families, they aren’t for everyone. And greater access to other educational opportunities could prove life changing for some.

MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Editor

Marnie McAllister
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