Free Parish Education Program

In 1885, the Baltimore Council decreed that every parish should have a parish school so that every child might receive a Catholic education.  Today, there are over 16,000 Catholic parishes in America and most of them (71%) have no parish school.  Even worse, where there are parish schools, most of the children in the parishes do not attend the parish school.

Between 2010 and 2015, when today’s elementary school-age children were born, an average of 700,000 infants were baptized in the Church each year.  Over 6 years, that means 4.2 million children were baptized into the Catholic Church.  Only 1.2 million children attended Catholic schools in 20221. So 71% of the children baptized into the Catholic Church did not attend Catholic schools in America.  When we consider the costs of Catholic schools and acknowledge that many of the children in Catholic schools are not parish children, the number of baptized Catholic children not receiving Catholic education is even lower.

Some may say, “Yes, but homeschooling is becoming more popular.”, but I believe many parents choose to homeschool out of necessity because there is no parish school program available.  It is not in the best interest of Catholic families to have to provide for their children’s education.  It’s much easier to provide help for the education of Catholic children than it is to provide financially for Catholic families.  Catholic parents need to work and Catholic children need to study.

The Classical Liberal Arts Academy offers free enrollment to any parish willing to organize a parish education program.

How to Provide Parish Education in 2023

Whenever talk begins about parish education, excuses begin pouring in–almost all of which are related to money.  It is immediately assumed that a modern grade level school that looks like the local public school must be built at the church’s expense.

This is completely false.

The first step is for a pastor to take responsibility, as a pastor, for the education of the children in his parish.  This requires that he make sure that all children in his parish are already receiving a Catholic education and that he make it possible for those who are not to do so.

The second step is for the pastor to learn how he can make a Catholic educational program available to the children of his parish who don’t currently have access to Catholic education.  Most of these children will be children whose parents:

  • are not able to teach their own children (i.e., homeschool)
  • are not able to afford homeschooling costs
  • are not able to afford Catholic school tuition
  • are simply not making Catholic education a priority

Thus, starting a private school with high tuition would not solve the problem anyway, and isn’t necessary.

In 2023, Catholic education can be provided very easily.  The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is an online Catholic study program that provides everything that every child needs to receive a complete education.  The Academy program can be used in a number of different way by a parish:

  • as a homeschool co-op program
  • as a parish hybrid program
  • as a parish school program

What the Academy Provides

1. Catholic School Curriculum

Modern schools serve secular curriculum requirements that do not serve the needs of Catholic education.  In fact, what modern Catholic schools offer today can’t be reconciled with what the doctors of Catholic Church have taught is necessary for education in Church history.  Schools are setting minimum legal requirements as the bar for school programs, which cannot be accepted. The Academy provides Catholic parishes with the opportunity to provide a comprehensive classical Catholic study program that satisfies all modern school requirements, prepares children for college admission and gives motivated students the opportunity to pursue higher studies in philosophy and theology.  There is no limit to student achievement in our program and it is thoroughly Catholic from beginning to end.

2. Learning Management System (LMS)

Many schools have, at their core, a learning management system that contains all student activities, assessments, grades and records.  The systems are managed by full-time staff members, are supplied with content by teachers and are accessed by students throughout the school year.  These systems are very expensive to develop and maintain–especially if they are done well.   The Academy provides parishes with access to an established learning management system that is already filled with study material and assessments, that keeps all student progress, grades and records.

3. Stable Instruction

Modern schools are dependent on hiring local teachers, which causes a number of problems. First, there are not enough quality teachers available in an area to serve a modern K-12 school model effectively.  Second, private schools must compete financially with public schools for available local teachers. Third, teacher turnover in private schools is normally around 20%, meaning that 1 of every 5 teachers leaves the school each year, making the school’s academic program unstable and causing progress to stall.  The Academy, an apostolate of Lay Dominicans, provides lessons already prepared for children and help whenever questions arise.

4. Year-Round Progress

Modern schools are closed 185 days each year, with students doing little or no academic work–for no reason. Students can (and should) be studying throughout the year to allow for the greatest possible progress in studies, and modern schools don’t allow this.  The Academy provides students access to their courses 365 days a year, allowing them to work at their own pace and achieve far more than modern school requirements provide for.

5. Consultation

Modern schools operate on a 20th century school model that is obsolete and unsustainable. Parishes today have great flexibility in education, but often don’t understand their options.  The Academy offers free consultation to parishes to communicate to parents all options available for the education of their children and to provide for a number of different arrangements based on the interests of families.  Whether promoting homeschooling in a parish, starting an in-person parish school or developing a hybrid model that combines the benefits of both models, we can help develop plans for a parish’s unique circumstances–at no cost.

What Parishes Should Provide

Catholic parishes must think beyond the modern K-12 public school model and focus on what is essential to Catholic education. A school facility is not necessary. A large faculty with state teaching licenses is not necessary. Secular accreditation is not necessary. Sports fields and courts are not necessary. What is necessary for a parish to fulfill the objectives of Catholic education are students, parents and volunteers. Every parish has everything it needs to provide Catholic education to every child.

It is not necessary for a parish to immediately attempt to organize a private school. Parish education may develop in phases, pursuing long-term goals through sustainable short-term objectives. Parishes already provide the sacraments and sacramental preparation through faith formation programs, which are part of the solution. Parishes already provide youth group activities, which are another part of the solution. However, these “extracurricular” programs can be improved to complement a Catholic study program shared by parish children. A quality study program can direct these extracurricular activities to make them more beneficial to the parish.

A parish education representative can immediately begin sharing information about the Academy program with parents interested in homeschooling their children. As families get started, a hybrid program can be developed that complements work done privately and provides support for homeschooling families. The families in the hybrid program, and in the parish at large, can work charitably to help other families participate. As this hybrid program develops, the move to form a private school becomes much easier. However, formal private school arrangements would only be necessary for students for whom homeschooling was impossible. This may be a small number of students. The Academy will prove the content and support for all of these activities, at no cost. If additional services are desired, they can be arranged for minimal costs with the Academy.

Step 1. Parish Registration

To register your parish for our Parish Enrollment Program, simply submit the registration form below:

Step 2. Family Registration

Once your parish has registered with our Parish Enrollment Program (see above), families must complete and submit the following registration form (parish signature required):

Step 3. Begin Studies!

Once your parish has registered and the family registration form has been submitted, parents can create accounts in the Academy Study Center, enroll in courses and get started. Simply follow the instructions on the front page of the Study Center.

If you have any questions about the Parish Enrollment Program, please contact us.

God bless,
Mr. William C. Michael
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

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  1. https://cara.georgetown.edu/s/CARAFrequentlyRequested-wf94.xlsx
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