Special report: Why Catholic schools in Florida are growing

This paper was authored by the Step Up For Students team of Lauren May, director of advocacy and a former Catholic school teacher and principal; Patrick Gibbons, senior manager for public affairs; and Ron Matus, director of research and special projects.

Read the full report.

The good news: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s Catholic schools re-opened sooner than the vast majority of public schools and yielded considerably better academic outcomes, particularly for Black and Hispanic students.

The bad news: And yet, in most of the country, Catholic schools continue to fade away. Over the past decade, only 10 states showed growth in Catholic school enrollment. Only one of them – Florida – has significant numbers of students in Catholic schools.

The hopeful news: There’s no reason it has to stay that way.

Our white paper, “Why Catholic Schools in Florida Are Growing: 5 Things to Know,” aims to amplify the success of Florida’s Catholic schools and offer lessons for Catholic education elsewhere. With the recent, remarkable expansion of universal choice in multiple states, the time couldn’t be more right.

Florida’s Catholic schools operate in the nation’s most competitive education market. That they’re growing speaks volumes about the power of choice and the quality of the Catholic school brand.

It also speaks to change. Florida’s Catholic schools grow more diverse by the day, both with the students they serve and the programming they offer.

As choice expands, the future of Catholic schools will hinge on how well they adapt to ever more dynamic environments with ever more options. The experience in Florida suggests they are more than capable.

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BY Special to NextSteps