Busting myths about Catholic schools


By Lee Iben


Regina PreK-12th Catholic Education Center (Iowa City), like many of its Catholic school counterparts across the nation, celebrated Catholic Schools Week the last week of January.  Catholic Schools Week is a program dedicated to celebrating and promoting the vast amount of good Catholic schools do in our country.  These schools provide a first-rate academic education that also emphasizes the practice of faith, character, morals and virtue.  Our graduates make good citizens, involved in community service and social justice.
As the season of kindergarten round-ups and school selection for next fall begins, we want to set the record straight about Catholic schools like Regina. Addressing some misconceptions will help families make a learned decision when making an educational choice for their child(ren).  Here are some common Catholic school myths that can be dismissed:
• Catholic schools are not affordable.  Like other Catholic schools in the Davenport Diocese, Regina receives funds from its local parishes to help subsidize student tuition.  Tuition assistance is also available through School Tuition Organizations (STO), scholarships and other private donor funds.  Families are expected to pay in relation to their economic circumstances.
• Catholic schools are exclusive and only recruit/retain certain students. Catholic schools are called to be inclusive, enrolling students from all walks of life, including students who have left other schools for whatever reason. We have established standards of expected behavior to help students negotiate various relationships. They are taught to treat others in a manner honoring each person’s dignity and to respect differences.
• You have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school. Catholic schools, including Regina, enroll students across the full expanse of religious, racial, ethnic, cultural and social demographics.
• Catholic schools are not current technologically or academically. We understand we must prepare students for a 21st century worldwide marketplace.  New technologies are quickly embraced and supported. Regina was the first school district in Iowa City to have SMART boards in all K-12 classrooms.
• Catholic schools have no STEM curricula (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM-related professions are some of the most rapidly expanding job prospects. Regina students are being prepared to thrive in a STEM-based economy and society through extended STEM curricula opportunities and local partnerships.
• Unlike public schools, Catholic schools can operate as they see fit and are not accredited and teachers don’t have to be licensed. Catholic schools are accredited by a sanctioned agency.  Catholic schools in Iowa are accredited by the State of Iowa’s Department of Education.  We are held to compliance standards and various regulations comparable to public schools, including certification, professional licensure and professional development for all faculty.
• Scientific reasoning and religion cannot be taught together. Catholic schools find ways to bridge the void, not treating analytic thought and faith as though they were mutually exclusive.
• You must be Catholic to teach in a Catholic school. Plenty of non-Catholic teachers function well in Catholic schools and their services are most welcome.
• Teachers work in Catholic schools, because they can’t get better paying jobs in public schools. Catholic schools employ some of the most talented, passionate and committed teachers anywhere. Many are long-time teachers who choose Catholic education for their entire career, finding profound gratification in contributing to a faith-filled education for students.
• Catholic schools shield students from societal trends and challenges. Catholic schools encourage students to confront realities of the world according to the tenets of social teaching and justice.
• Catholic schools are relics from the past. There’s little that could be characterized as dated in modern Catholic schools. They aspire to educate students in anticipation of a future that figures to be dynamic and require resourcefulness and resiliency.
For more information about Regina PreK-12 Catholic Education Center in Iowa City, or to take a tour, contact Admissions Director Pam Schowalter at (319) 338-5436, ext. 1755, or pam.schwalter@icregina.com.
For more information on other Catholic schools in the Davenport Diocese, please visit: www.davenportdiocese.org/schools.
(Lee Iben is president and CEO of Regina Catholic Education Center, Iowa City).

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