At a time when Catholic secondary schools are closing all across the country, A Vision of Hope reviews the successes of this education model in Massachusetts, and offers recommendations to help these schools increase student enrollment. It includes contributions from a broad range of nationally renowned researchers and authors; a foreword by George Weigel, author of an international bestselling two-part biography of Pope St. John Paul II; and an introduction from former Ambassadors to the Holy See Raymond Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon. The book contends that Catholic schools in Massachusetts must focus on the characteristics that make them academically successful and distinguish them from traditional public schools, but must also seek new models and governance structures that will help them achieve financial sustainability. At the same time, barriers to public support of the schools should be eliminated.
Catholic schools in Massachusetts deliver high test scores, high college attendance and graduation rates. The majority of elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston are in urban areas and disproportionately serve poor and minority families. Parents of all faiths and beliefs are also drawn to the unrelenting focus on achievement, classic liberal arts education, discipline and values that are part of a Catholic education. Catholic educators are developing new models to address these challenges, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue was an important step toward invalidating so-called Blaine Amendments to the constitutions of Massachusetts and many other states that prohibit public money from flowing to religious schools parents. Among its many recommendations, the book includes a proposal for a tax credit scholarship program for Massachusetts that would likely have been impermissible prior to Espinoza.