Madrinas at Holy Cross School in North Portland, OR. (Photo Credit: Holy Cross School)
“Oh no, esta escuela católica no es para nosotros. Es para los ricos!” This is a line that many school leaders attending ACE’s Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) have heard all too often from Latino parents - that their local Catholic school is not for them. It’s only for the rich.
LEI’s decade of work in increasing Latino enrollment has highlighted the unfortunate reality that many Latino families have too little information when it comes to Catholic schools in the United States. Since Catholic schools in Latin America typically serve only the elite members of society, many low and middle-income Latino families in the United States consider a Catholic education to be inaccessible, and they do not even consider it to be an educational option for their children. We regard this to be a missed opportunity for schools and a missed opportunity for families.
The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) recently released sobering statistics of record-breaking drops in enrollment in Catholic schools across the country. Given that many of these drops came in urban areas in heavily populated Latino neighborhoods, schools with Latino children have been among the hardest hit. This has left many school and diocesan leaders wondering what they can do to ensure the fastest-growing group of Catholics in the United States continues to benefit from a Catholic education.