The Not So Surprising Reason Fewer Latino Children Are Attending Catholic School

Study Shows Fewer Latino Children Are Being Enrolled in Catholic Schools

Less and less Latino families are sending their children off to Catholic school, but why?

A new study reveals that despite many Latino households practicing Catholicism, enrollment in schools is steadily declining. 

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“Given the striking growth of the Hispanic Catholic school-age population and the declining enrollment in Catholic schools, the Church must be realistic and plan creatively — and prophetically — to serve this critical and growing group of American Catholics,” co-author of the report and professor at Boston College Hosffman Ospino told NBC News.

But is it enough to better serve when the predominant cause of the decline in enrollments is income? According to this report, it is estimated that 60 percent of Hispanic households in the U.S. earn less than $30,000 a year. Hence, “increased tuition support is essential.”

Furthermore, language can often be a barrier. “Although most Latinos speak English, there are millions who primarily speak Spanish,” Ospino added. “By not having someone who speaks Spanish, the school is unable to develop personal relationships with primarily Spanish-speaking parents.”

The report also highlights that only 14 percent of Catholic school principals and 12 percent of teachers are Hispanic, and only 17 percent of school teachers speak Spanish, making it hard to construct a welcoming environment, thus resulting in less enrollments.

Still, all is not lost. "This is an opportunity for the Catholic Church to say we are going to step in and offer resources to our own people, to our Catholic people, a majority of whom happen to be Hispanic," Ospino said. 

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In September, Boston College will use this study to produce a summit geared to help Catholic schools make the changes needed to attract more Hispanic Catholics.