by Vince Anch
Our Catholic community is blessed to have many strong families. It is apparent at weekly Masses and during the celebration of the sacraments. Strong families create strong parishes, schools and neighborhoods.
One of the key differentiators between Catholic schools and public schools across the country is the strength of the families and their involvement in their children’s education. Research has proven that when parents are engaged with their children’s education, grades are higher, attendance is better and there is a stronger appreciation for lifelong learning.
A major obstacle to improving education for our children comes from policymakers that focus on budgeting, facilities and course curriculum. Very few address parental involvement. Harvard professor Robert Putnam suggests that given a choice between a 10% increase in school budgets or a 10% increase in parent involvement, he would invest in parent involvement.
Professor and author Lawrence Steinberg estimates that nearly one in three parents in this country is disengaged from their adolescent’s life and particularly their education. Nearly one-third of students say their parents have no idea how they are doing in school.
Karen Bogenschneider and Carol Johnson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that lack of parental interest and involvement in their children’s schooling is not the only influence on poor academic achievement. School failure is also associated with a peer culture that downplays academic success.
Catholic schools have always had engaged families. This is reinforced by students’ participation in the sacraments together, along with their fellow students’ families. High academic achievement has also been a major tenet of Catholic schools and guides students to reach their academic potential.
It’s easy to understand the importance of parental engagement on children’s learning. What is rarely measured, though, in national research studies is the impact that parents have on the spiritual development of children. We know as Catholics that parents are our first teachers and first spiritual mentors. Jesus certainly benefited from two loving parents who were devoted to their faith and their son’s well-being. The Holy Family is the best example for all parents to follow when raising children. Our Catholic schools focus on the Holy Family as role models for developing children, which in turn helps students learn and develop academically and spiritually.
While some schools have statues of their mascots to inspire their students, Catholic schools have the Holy Family to inspire our students.