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Some of us have argued for years that parental choice has the potential to renew and reinvigorate one of the greatest success stories in American education: This country’s network of Catholic schools.
Now we have proof of concept.
In Florida, home to the most expansive system of school choice in America, Catholic schools are flourishing. Schools that almost closed a decade ago have wait lists. New schools have opened. There’s even a school – St. Malachy, near Fort Lauderdale – that closed during the Great Recession but now, thanks to resurgent demand, just re-opened.
According to an illuminating new report from Step Up For Students, the nonprofit that administers Florida’s education choice scholarship programs, Catholic school enrollment rose 4 percent in Florida over the past 10 years, while it fell 33 percent in New Jersey, 31 percent in New York, and 25 percent in Pennsylvania. In fact, Florida is one of only a handful of states to see any Catholic school growth over that span, and the only one in the Top 10 in the number of Catholic school students.
School choice is a major contributor to this resurgence.
For generations, millions of parents have long valued