National High School Graduation Rate Hits All Time High

This week, the federal government released a report showing that the nation’s graduation rate had reached a record 83.2 percent for the 2014-15 school year. The national graduation rate, which has been steadily increasing, reflects improvements across all racial and ethnic groups.

A breakdown of the individual states shows that Missouri’s graduation rate over the last five years has been consistently higher than the national average. The state’s graduation rate for the 2014-15 school year came in at 87.8 percent.

One downside of the report showed decreasing scores on national math and reading tests. Average tests scores on SAT and ACT college entrance exams have also declined, raising concerns that students are less prepared to enter college than in years past.

Committee Holds Hearing on Expanding A+ Scholarship Program

The House Committee on Higher Education held a public hearing this week on HB 1383, which expands the A+ scholarship program to graduates of private high schools. Currently, the program is limited to graduates of public high schools. HB 1383 is sponsored by Representative Keith English(I-Florissant).

The MCC testified in support of the bill, noting that A+ is designed to encourage students to enter post-secondary technical education programs. The MCC said the participation of graduates of private high schools would allow more students to receive this kind of education and training and that this, in turn, would result in a better trained workforce benefiting all Missourians.

Opponents expressed concern that adding private school graduates would make it difficult to adequately fund the A+ program. The committee took no action on the bill.

Committee to Consider Expansion of A+ Scholarship Program

Will this be the year the General Assembly ends discrimination against graduates of private (and Catholic) high schools? Next week the Missouri House Committee on Higher Education will consider HB 1383, a bill that would expand the A+ scholarship program to graduates of private high schools, including Catholic high schools. The bill is sponsored by Representative Keith English (I-St. Louis).

In contrast to most scholarship programs, A+ scholarships are currently only available to graduates of public high schools. The program has been in operation for a number of years. Its general purpose is to provide financial assistance to high school graduates wishing to attend post-secondary vocational or technical schools.

In order to qualify for an A+ scholarships a student must meet several criteria: have graduated with a an overall grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale; have at least a 95% attendance record; have performed at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring; and have maintained a record of good citizenship and avoidance of unlawful use of drugs and alcohol.

An MCC alert has been sent to all network members who have a legislator serving on the Higher Education Committee. Please pray that this committee will vote HB 1383 “Do Pass.”

Next Week is Catholic Schools Week

Next week is Catholic Schools Week, a weekly event that has been held every year since 1974. You can visit the National Catholic Association website for information on Catholic Schools Week. Also check with Catholic schools in your community to see what activities are planned. During this week parents and community supporters visit their local Catholic schools and learn more about the wonderful work underway to educate students in the Catholic faith.

Get Mizzou out of the Abortion Business

This week the MCC sent all our network members a new alert urging contacts with the University of Missouri Board of Curators. The alert includes a pre-composed message that you can send that will be received by all members of the MU Board of Curators. If you have not yet responded to this alert, do so now. Just click MCC Alert.

CEI Deadline is April 15

Missourians for Children’s Education, the campaign committee for the Children’s Education Initiative (CEI), has set April 15 as the deadline for submission of signatures to the MCC and other pro-CEI agencies. Parishes and Catholic schools: send your notarized petition pages and completed circulator registration forms to the Missouri Catholic Conference, P.O. Box 1022, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102. If you need help, contact the MCC at 1-800-456-1679.


Posted: March 7, 2014

Your Parish Can Help, too -Collect CEI Signatures Today!

If your parish or Catholic school has not yet conducted a drive to collect CEI signatures, there is still time. In early January all parishes and schools received a simplified CEI packet that provided instructions for gathering signatures. If you need additional assistance, contact your CEI Diocesan Coordinator:

Archdiocese of St. Louis
George Kerry
(314) 792-7568

Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
John Murphy
(816) 729-5222

Dan Peters
(816) 714-2344

Diocese of Jefferson City
Deacon Dan Joyce
(573) 635-9127

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Leon Witt
(417) 866-0841

You can also contact the MCC for help at (800) 456-1679 or by email.

Posted: February 7, 2104

Church-State Quibbles Ignored in Frontier Missouri

When the City of St. Louis incorporated in 1823 there was a desire to set up a public school but no funds were available for that purpose. The City agreed to pay for the education of poor boys attending Father Neil’s Academy (later St. Louis College). The school was open to Protestants as Father Neil explained in the Missouri Gazette:

“A due sense of religion, the foundation of all morality, will by them be indefatigably cultivated, but without interference with the peculiar tenets of such as might be attached to persuasions different from that of their instructors.”


Posted: January 10, 2014

Legislators Turn Blind Eye to Catholic School Options

As a new session of the Missouri General Assembly opens, legislators are trying to find ways to provide better education for children stuck in failing school districts. Under current state law, students in unaccredited districts can transfer to other public schools, but no option is provided to transfer to a nonpublic or religious school. As a result students are being bused for over an hour to attend other public schools when seats are available in Catholic schools located in their neighborhoods. One has to wonder what our frontier ancestors would have thought of this stubborn refusal of public authorities to avail themselves of the educational opportunities offered by our many fine nonpublic schools.


Posted: January 10, 2014