With public education struggling to retain students and the support of parents, Catholic schools have seen a significant jump in enrollment for the first time in two decades.
U.S. News cited a report by the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), which report said that enrollment in Catholic schools rose 3.8% during the 2021-2022 academic year. It marked the first increase in enrollment in twenty years and it was the largest recorded enrollment increase for the NCEA, which has studied enrollment for half a century.
The findings demonstrate that parents became fed up with public school policies, such as how schools stuck to mask mandates despite science disproving their usefulness in preventing virus transmission and the leftist indoctrination in curricula.
Overall, Catholic schools enrolled an additional 62,000 students over the past year, even though enrollment is not as close to pre-pandemic levels. Also, far fewer Catholic schools closed or merged compared to other years. On average, about 100 Catholic schools close or merge with others each year. But, in the 2020-2021 school year, 71 Catholic schools closed or merged, which is the lowest number of closures or consolidations in twenty years.
Interestingly enough, over half of the enrollment increase came from pre-kindergarten enrollment at 66% and it grew 34% in a year’s time. It contrasted with public school enrollments for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, which dipped over pandemic policies.
School choice policies also fueled the enrollment boon in places such as Arizona or Florida. A staggering 92% of Catholic schools in the Grand Canyon State participate in school choice programs, such as vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts.
But, for the most part, 7% of Catholic school students were helped by school choice programs’ tuition assistance.
Annie Smith, the vice president of data and research at the NCEA, said, “The pandemic was a huge driver.” She added, “In the states that were less likely to have their school in person, we saw a higher increase in enrollment across the board.”
With more school choice options, parents opted for in-person policies than not, in addition to a focus on more conservative education than the leftist-infiltrated public schools.