Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Students Return to More Than School This Fall

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Students Return to More Than School This Fall

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- School bells rang this month for more than 42 million American public school children and for 2.6 million Catholic school students.

What awaits them? In addition to education, there are thefts, violent crime, firearms, drugs and alcohol. The U.S. Department of Education recently reported that approximately 3 million thefts were committed annually and a violent crime is committed every six seconds on or near school campuses.

Congress has before it President Clinton's Safe Schools Act of 1993. It earmarks $75 million for troubled school districts to fight crime and improve security.

Last month Clinton said that the nation had "lost an essential element of our civilization when our children must pass through metal detectors or worry that they'll be the victims of random drive-by shootings."

That is apparently less of a worry for the 1.9 million children sitting at desks in Catholic elementary schools and the 600,000 in Catholic high schools -- a total increase of 17,000 over last year.

National Catholic Education Association public relations director Barbara Keebler said that she did not know of any Catholic schools with metal detectors and that violent school crime had not been an issue for parents, who regard Catholic schools as "a safe haven."

When Catholic school principals from throughout the United States met late last month in Washington with NCEA staff, they agreed that values, morals, discipline, high academic standards and parental involvement were the most frequently stated reasons why parents want Catholic education for their children. …

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