WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Like many Catholic schools, Cardinal Newman High School has worked to reinvent itself over the years to draw students.
In 2005, it became the first Catholic school in Florida to offer an International Baccalaureate program. It’s added college prep courses and is preparing to add more science, technology, engineering and math initiatives.
The new programs may help the school respond to an increasingly competitive school choice landscape. The surrounding Palm Beach County school district has added magnet, IB and career academies. Charter schools have proliferated, and now enroll more than one out of 10 students. But they face competition too, and charter enrollment actually fell this year.
In this environment, faith-based private schools don’t only have to attract families but convince them to pay tuition. Schools like Cardinal Newman have found that faith may be their biggest competitive edge.
“The difficulty for a school of Newman’s nature is it is a tuition-driven school,” said Rev. David Carr, the president of Cardinal Newman High School. “When these programs are offered in the public school, somebody says, ‘I can go to Suncoast Community High School, and it is free. They are not coming because Newman has an IB program. They want to be at Cardinal Newman.”
A major reason they want to be at Cardinal Newman, Carr said, is the Catholic faith.
“It is our mission to educate the whole child: mind, body and spirit,” he said. “You don’t teach faith because you can’t. What you have to do is bring out the faith that is within. That is what it is all about.” Continue Reading →