Seton Hall’s Epics program — the acronym stands for Educational Partners in Catholic Schools — is one of about 20 similar efforts by Roman Catholic colleges and universities. Taken together, the initiatives have placed several thousand teachers in urban Catholic schools, and collectively they comprise a sort of religion-based version of Teach for America.
One major difference, besides the religious component, is in national visibility. Teach for America has become a virtual brand name on elite college campuses and a coveted item on graduate-school applications and corporate résumés. Programs like Epics have received far less public acclaim, and yet they are vital to the almost literally lifesaving role that Catholic schools play as an affordable alternative to chronically failing public schools in many low-income areas.
In 1970, more than half the teachers and administrators at Catholic elementary and secondary schools were unpaid clergy members. As of 2008, Ms. Helm said, clergy members account for about 5 percent of teachers. At the same time that nonwhite and often non-Catholic pupils are increasingly seeking out Catholic schools, the number of such schools in cities has been shrinking in the face of rising costs and insufficient revenue.
St. Patrick’s, where Mr. Encarnacion teaches, offers an archetypal example. The school, which runs from prekindergarten through eighth grade, is actually a merger of three schools. Roughly two-thirds of its 440 students are black Protestants. Of 26 full-time teachers and administrators, one is a member of the clergy.
Offering Teachers Incentives; and a Chance to Live Their Faith
by Samuel G. Freedman
We've had sad news here. The Catholic school down the hill from the high school is closing.
I hate to see these places go.
Catholic Schools and the Common Good