You might not realize it, but there are more than 80 Catholic schools in the greater New Orleans area. All told, they serve a total of around 37,000 students. For reference, public schools in Orleans Parish enroll approximately 49,000 students. For families, Catholic schools represent a substantial portion of the school landscape – and an important option.
Today, we’re releasing a new online guide to help New Orleans families who are considering Catholic schools understand the process and explore schools that might be right for their children. It features profiles of each school, frequently asked questions, information on scholarship programs, and an interactive Find a School tool. It’s the first time all of this information has been compiled in one publicly accessible online location.
Why a guide to Catholic schools?
Over the last decade, New Orleans has invested heavily in its system of school choice and the infrastructure necessary to support it. Most notably, it adopted a universal enrollment system, OneApp, to make the process of applying to public schools easier and fairer for families. Parents can use the system to view available schools and apply to those they prefer all at once. They also have access to the New Orleans Parents Guide to Public Schools, Family Resource Centers, and other sources of information to help them make their choices.
That’s not the case for the Catholic school system, however. Families interested in sending their children to Catholic schools have to research and apply to each school separately, and the process, requirements and timelines for applying differ from school to school. Then there’s the added complexity of applying for the three different kinds of scholarships available to lower-income students, which involves unraveling a whole new tangle of timelines and eligibility criteria.
All of this translates to a lot of work and stress for parents. Overwhelmed by the prospect of researching schools, submitting applications, and figuring out the finances, many give up and don’t bother considering Catholic schools at all. It effectively puts off-limits a wide swath of local schools, particularly for parents who may not have the time or resources to deal with all the logistical demands.
We wanted to make it easier.
Catholic schools have a long history in New Orleans, and many families love the values- and faith-based education they provide. We know Catholic schools aren’t right for everyone, but we believe that families should be aware of ALL of their school options and empowered to pursue any school that might be a good fit for their children. Confusing processes and unclear information should never stand in their way.
The guide was created with great cooperation from the Office of Catholic Schools at the Archdiocese of New Orleans. We see it as a work in progress. Our team spent time surveying and meeting with school leaders to hear what they wanted to share with prospective families about their schools, and we are grateful to all the educators who contributed to it. Not all schools provided full information, but we plan to update the school profiles with additional data as we receive it. In the future, we also hope to add new information that gives families greater insight into each school and its success with students, in particular.
For now, we hope the guide serves as a useful starting point for families who are interested in Catholic schools and want to narrow down their options. Check it out at www.catholicschoolsguide.ednavigator.com and please share it with anyone who might benefit.