Catholic schools save U.S. $19.8 billion annually, education group says

.- The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) claims that Catholic schools save $19.8 billion to the U.S. annually in savings by serving children who would otherwise be educated at taxpayer expense.

The NCEA reports that the nation’s almost 7,400 Catholic schools enroll more than 2.2 million students, who would have been educated in public schools at an average cost of $8,701 per student.

"Catholic schools are a gift to the church - and to the nation," said Dr. Karen Ristau, President of NCEA, in a December 11 press release. "The enormity of this gift is more striking during these challenging economic times."

"Our graduates have a strong commitment to community service because that is a foundation of our schools," continued Ristau. "Just this past year Catholic school students performed 2.2 million hours of public service in honor of Pope Benedict's visit. That kind of involvement is a gift to the country that cannot be measured in dollars alone."

The NCEA reports that Catholic school students excel academically on standardized tests. About 99.1 percent of Catholic school students graduate, and 94 percent attend college. Additionally, the Catholic educators’ group says that “studies show that graduates of Catholic schools are reliable workers, good citizens and more likely to attend church.”

According to the NCEA, Catholic schools aim to join academic achievement with an understanding of the Catholic faith, a commitment to religious practice, and “a strong set of values.”

“Catholic schools provide faith formation and values. Teachers view the formation of Christian character as a non-negotiable, which is Gospel centered, environmental, cross-curricular and essential in a society where values are often ignored,” the NCEA remarked.

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