Chicago columnist praises Catholic schools, makes appeal to save them

.- Chicago Sun-Times columnist Suzanne Ontiveros says she considers herself and her son blessed to have received a Catholic school education and laments the news that another 23 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago are slated for closure at the end of the school year.

“It's awful watching the slow demise of a wonderful education system,” she wrote in her column last week. But she is hoping that some marketing whiz will step up to the plate and sell the benefits of the Catholic education system to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“The curriculum doesn't have the bells and whistles you see at the prestigious private schools that have waiting lists every year,” she conceded. But it has “so many often-overlooked little things come together to make a big difference in how Catholic school children come out as citizens of our world.”

When it comes to lifelong learning and success in higher education, Catholic schools know how to deliver, she said.

“Oh sure, these schools, for the most part, might not have fancy labs, but the curriculum is such that students learn to think and, more important, how to study.”

Ontiveros said the value of Catholic schools is also found in its community service programs that emphasize responsible citizenship and giving to those in need.

“It is within these much-used institutions built largely by those unsung heroes, the nuns, that children learn to give of themselves. They learn to be a responsible part of a community,” she wrote.

The archdiocese has planned a campaign in an effort to persuade students from the closing schools to choose another Catholic school. Statistics show that 73 percent of students go to a non-Catholic school once their Catholic school closes.

“I hope some marketing whiz -- a product of our Catholic schools, perhaps? -- steps up to create a program to sell the Chicago Catholic schools to not only those students but to others, too,” Ontiveros said. “Someone needs to showcase the Catholic schools for the priceless gems they truly are.”

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