Catholic schools are serving tens of thousands fewer students than they were before the pandemic, indicating that these schools have typically not been the destination for students across the U.S. forgoing public schools.
Catholic enrollment cratered during the 2020-21 school year, when those schools saw their biggest enrollment decline in many decades. In the most recent school year, Catholic schools experienced a substantial, but incomplete, enrollment rebound.
Advocates for Catholic education say the schools — which have been hemorrhaging students for decades — need to capitalize on the one-year uptick to keep new families and win over others.
“When I see this data from a Catholic school perspective, I think it’s a hopeful sign because it means we have, as Catholic school leaders, the potential to regrow enrollment and to build back up from a point that had been a historic low,” said Kathleen Porter-Magee, superintendent of a network of Catholic schools in New York City and Cleveland.