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Why the Federal Covid Funding Package Must Incorporate Religious Schools

Commentary by: Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of CER

Hundreds have written about and people from all religious backgrounds have celebrated and shared the data-based fact that Religious schools save lives

Since Sociologist James Coleman and his colleagues first documented Catholic schools’ academic successes in 1982, as Education Next puts it succinctly, “A variety of studies… by scholars at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, the Brookings Institution, and Harvard, have all supported the conclusion that Catholic schools do a better job educating children, especially the poor and minorities, than public schools.” 

No matter who they serve, students emerge not only successful but disciplined. Catholic schools have a 99% graduation rate, according to the National Catholic Education Association. Says Hudson Valley News, “Five of the current U.S. Supreme Court Justices went to Catholic schools, and one third of U.S. Senators and one quarter of those serving in the House of Representatives are Catholics.

‘Public service is at the heart of the Catholic ideology, and the combination of academic success and civic responsibility translates into students’ desire to serve their fellow men and women,’ says Catherine Merryman, principal at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie, NY. “Every one of our graduates earns a New York State Regents diploma, more than 70 percent of them earn an Advanced Regents’ diploma, and 99 percent of our students go on to college – and 86 percent of them are accepted by their first choice college. All students take college preparatory classes, and 98 percent of our students achieve success in

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Choosing a college during Covid?

Commentary by: Carolyn Manion, Special Assistant for External Affairs of CER

Were you or someone in your family planning on attending college this fall?

Has COVID-19 affected travel, finances and financial aid, and educational  stability in such a way that your plans are suddenly up in the air? 

You are not alone–it’s a scary time to be a high school senior. Thousands of students are seeing tests canceled or restructured, and as college admissions letters start pouring in and the pressure is on for the next month to decide, it can truly be a time of confusion. Bets are off for campus visit road trips, and admissions committees are overworked and delayed with a new influx of responsibilities. But thanks to the internet, you can probably find a way to learn about your top colleges and make a confident, informed choice. 

Given the fast upending of normal routine and the different speeds at which different institutions are adapting to the new way of life under COVID-19, it isn’t as easy as a google search of “virtual college fairs” – many results are outdated or geared toward participating universities, not students. 

Fortunately, a few organizations and individuals have dedicated themselves to aggregating solutions for students specifically in this novel situation. The best in-depth look at the resources available for a myriad of contingencies to the college application and acceptance process is this Forbes Article, which covers testing dates and college essays in addition to college visits. 

Two specific online resources to highlight are the massive databases for virtual college events. Here you can find the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s list of colleges

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Pandemic Playbook

Commentary by: Michal Musante, Policy & Culture Czar at CER

Having been in the education/school choice sector for most of my professional career, I often remind myself and those I try to influence that I have been blessed with the resources to choose the educational path that best fits my children. Part of that choice has also been based upon the plethora of great private schools available in the District of Columbia and my Catholic faith.

When schools started to discuss the possibility of closing, I had no concerns about my daughter’s school which is an independent Catholic high school. The students already had tablets on which they work and experience with assignments turned in electronically. Every morning, she signs in and has had lectures, tests, etc. on-line and things are going quite well. 

I had different concerns for my son’s school which is an Archdiocese of Washington school, since knowing the Catholic Church it can take a long time (centuries not days!) for decisions to be made. That said, I was reminded by a colleague that the Catholics could just dust off the pandemic playbook from the Spanish Flu or Middle Ages and go from there. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find the school and Archdiocese as a whole adapted quite easily. Each morning at 8:30 am my son checks in with his homeroom teacher on line and then proceeds to move through a number of on-line assignments (papers, worksheets, etc.). My wife has also assigned him various art/drawing projects using youtube videos and an art sketch book that we purchased at Target for $5.99. The school also asked that he record at least 30 to 60 mins of physical activity per

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