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Archdiocesan schools deliver on a cardinal’s promise

Vince Cascone is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

by Vince Cascone

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I recently came across an article from May 2000 on the late Cardinal John O’Connor, who was the archbishop of New York from 1984 until his death in 2000.

This article reflected on the life of Cardinal O’Connor and addressed topics such as gay rights, religious freedom and Catholic politicians supporting abortion laws, oftentimes at the expense of those religious freedoms.

If one was so inclined to block out dates and names, much of this article can be read as if it were referring to current times. 

In addition to speaking up on these important societal issues, Cardinal O’Connor spoke in support of Catholic education and the role our schools can play for the most vulnerable in our society.

In the article from The Invisible Miracle of Catholic Schools magazine, written way back in 1996 by Sol Stern, Cardinal O’Connor was quoted as making the following offer to New York City: “Send me the lowest-performing 5 percent of children presently in the public schools, and I will put them in Catholic schools — where they will succeed.”

In the same article, a study by Andrew Greeley was highlighted which revealed that the differences between Catholic school and public school performance were greatest among students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is not a secret, nor without ample research, that children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are also in schools with the lowest rates of success.

Allan Golston, who works for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leads the foundation’s efforts to advance educational opportunity and student achievement in the United States to ensure that all students — and particularly low-income students and students of color — receive a high-quality education.

In an article from the National Civil Rights Museum entitled, “Education is the Civil Rights Issue of Today,” Golston writes: “On average, Black students are two to three years behind their white peers academically. Almost 70 percent of Black fourth graders cannot read at grade level.”

At a time when society has been discussing systemic racism, perhaps we should focus our attention on our public schools and the opportunities that are provided to the most disadvantaged.

The 42 Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas stand ready and able to deliver on the promise Cardinal O’Connor made many years ago.

The Catholic Education Foundation works to provide funds for families who may need it in order to attend one of our CEF-sponsored Catholic schools, including funds from the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

We are ready to receive any families who want a high-quality education rooted in our faith and on the knowledge that God, the creator of the universe, pursues and desires a relationship with each one of us. This was, is and will always remain true.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Vince Cascone

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