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Public Statements

Honoring the Contributions of Catholic Schools

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS -- (House of Representatives - February 08, 2006)



Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I wish to submit these comments for extension of remarks.

I would like to speak in strong support of H. Res. 657, a resolution honoring the contributions of Catholic Schools and thank Mr. Kennedy for his good work.

As a proud graduate of St. George's Elementary School, St. John the Baptist High School, and Fordham University, I know firsthand the great value of a Catholic School education.

Catholic school has been a longstanding tradition in my family. My three sons graduated from Catholic schools prepared for the challenges they have faced in their professional and personal lives.

As we celebrate the 32nd Annual Catholic Schools Week, I am proud to report that Catholic schools continue to play a vibrant and integral role in the educational and cultural life of our Nation.

Today, nearly 2.5 million children attend Catholic elementary, middle and high schools. Minority enrollment is nearly 30 percent and non-Catholic enrollment is over 13 percent of the total.

There are nearly 400 Catholic schools in my home State of New Jersey alone, serving nearly 130,000 students, and many of these schools serve our urban districts.

Impressively, the student/teacher ratio in Catholic schools is 15:1, a ratio which provides teachers the opportunity to truly get to know the individual needs and strengths of the student body.

Catholic schools provide a disciplined, multi-faceted educational experience for children.

A Catholic education merges critical thinking and knowledge-based learning with a spirit of tolerance, empathy and service to others. This unique approach is exemplified in the theme of this year's Catholic Schools Week: Character. Compassion. Values.

Teaching students to serve their communities and to develop fundamental human values enhances self-esteem and enthusiasm, brings abstract subjects to life, and empowers students to think about worlds beyond their own.

It may also have a significant salutary effect on academic performance. Recent studies have demonstrated that Catholic students consistently perform up to a very high standard on tests assessing reading, writing, math and science abilities.

What transpires during the education of each and every child has repercussions beyond the classroom: It will shape the character of the country that we will become.

That is why I would like to thank the Catholic Schools of America for the tremendous success they have had in producing a student body well educated and well prepared to take an active role in strengthening our society.

This is perfectly illustrated in the generous response that Catholic schools students have had toward students devastated by the recent hurricane in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Catholic students delivered more than $1 million to Katrina students and opened their hearts and schools to thousands of victims. After the hurricane, New Orleans, with its deep Catholic roots, had 52,000 displaced students enroll in Catholic schools around the Nation, and Biloxi and Mobile had thousands more.

This is only one example of the contributions that Catholic Schools are making to our society. I am pleased to add my voice to the chorus of those who celebrate and honor the achievements of these valuable institutions.


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