To the Editor:
Every child in this country deserves access to a high-quality education, and too many millions lack that opportunity today. While it is encouraging to read in “From Catholic to Charter: Conversion of Schools Draws Scrutiny” (June 11, 2014) about schools that are mindful of this charge, I would argue that fulfilling “a Catholic-inspired mission through a secular vehicle” fails to acknowledge the extraordinary success of Catholic schools in serving poor and marginalized children over many decades.
Rather than forcing faith-based schools to sacrifice their autonomy and animating mission, policymakers should embrace parental choice policies that provide parents the choice of a faith-based education for their children. All parents, regardless of their financial situation, deserve the right to choose what they believe to be best for their children—a charter, traditional public, private, or faith-based school.
We’ve seen first-hand student success when parents are given the ability to choose, particularly in our own Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson, Ariz. These schools are serving children in some of the poorest zip codes in the country, yet have demonstrated the ability to close the achievement gap; in fact, one of our Notre Dame ACE Academies has seen impressive increases in student test scores in the last few years. And in another instance, one of our academies has seen its enrollment double in the last year.
Given the oft-discussed struggles of our country’s education system, we must all support policies that support parents’ right to choose what’s best for their families and for children to have access to the schools that will give them the best chance to succeed academically and personally. What could be more important?
The Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C.
Director, Institute for Educational Initiatives
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind.
A version of this article appeared in the August 27, 2014 edition of Education Week as School Choice Offers Hope In Poor Communities