Denver, Detroit Catholic Schools Save Families Money through Work-Study

The Michigan Education Report, run by a sister think tank Mackinac Institute, highlights an innovative cost-saving, Catholic school model in Detroit:

Tuition costs have been cited as a factor in the closing of more than 1,000 Catholic parish schools across the country in the past two decades. The Cristo Rey model addresses that problem by requiring students to spend four days in the classroom and one full day working each week. Their earnings go toward their school costs. In Detroit, the work-study program will bring down the family contribution to an estimated $2,200 per year, according to Earl Robinson, president of Detroit Cristo Rey. The school will work to help parents who can’t afford even that much.

The Cristo Rey model not only brings costs down, but introduces students to the working world, helps them develop work ethics, assists them in making career choices and, Robinson pointed out, lets them write a resume upon graduation that includes four years of work experience and four references.

At the State Policy blog, John LaPlante suggests this kind of innovation helps to answer the objection that vouchers won’t fully cover private school tuition costs.

Those raising the objection could also look to the foot of the Rocky Mountain West, at Denver’s Arrupe Jesuit High School, which has a similar work-study program that keeps tuition costs down. As a feature in last year’s Denver Post showed, Arrupe Jesuit’s innovative approach – combined with rigorous standards and high expectations – has been making a real difference among a high-poverty student population.

Now if only tax credits or publicly-funded scholarships could be provided to ensure more Colorado students had access to such innovative programs.