JS New MKE Seton Catholic School system bolsters voucher schools
Turner is in his second year at St. Catherine, one of nine schools in the inaugural class of Seton Catholic Schools, a nonprofit the Archdiocese of Milwaukee launched to boost enrollment and improve educational outcomes at its elementary schools that take part in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which offers taxpayer-funded vouchers for low- and middle-income students to attend private schools.article as JS
Adopting more innovative teaching practices is just one of many priorities Turner has set for St. Catherine — up there with raising test scores, expanding extracurricular activities, and creating a culture where students and families feel welcome.
"I have a lot of 'number one priorities,' " said Turner, who spent 15 years as a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher before joining St. Catherine in July 2015. "We're a work in progress. But we're making progress."
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Catholic school enrollments peaked in the 1960s, when more than 15 million students were educated in 13,000 schools across the country, staffed primarily by religious sisters who offered a plentiful source of low-cost labor, according to the National Catholic Education Association. The movement of sisters into other ministries dramatically altered the economic picture for Catholic schools. And enrollments declined over the decades driven by a host of reasons, including rising tuition costs and a lessening of the moral obligation for Catholics to send their children to religious schools.
By 2015-16, there were just 6,525 Catholic schools, serving about 1.9 million students nationally. Enrollment in the Milwaukee Archdiocese is 30,772 this year, down from 33,559 in 2007-08, according to Kathleen Cepelka, who serves as superintendent for its 92 elementary and 15 high schools across the 10-county area.