Catholic schools in the United States have a long and proven history of providing excellent education to countless children and saves taxpayers money. In order for that to continue in the Archdiocese of Chicago, new partnerships must form. That was the message Archbishop Cupich shared with over 400 people at the Celebrating Catholic Education Breakfast on Jan. 26 at the Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton Place. The breakfast raised $240,000 for the Caritas Scholars Program and the Catholic Education Scholarship Trust, created by gifts to the To Teach Who Christ Is campaign. The campaign is being conducted in all 356 parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago with the goal of helping build stronger parishes, and make available resources for Catholic education and for faith formation. To date, more than $140 million has been raised. “My point is simple. Our system of education works; it benefits society and deserves support so that it can continue,” the archbishop said. Women religious in the United States were the backbone of Catholic schools for decades and now that role has been taken over by dedicated laypeople, many of whom work for salaries below the average of their colleagues at other schools, he told those gathered. There is a limit of what dioceses can do today to continue to support their schools. “While it is true that nationwide Catholic schools save taxpayers over $20 billion each year, it is also true that the likelihood of continuing this legacy is in doubt without some adjustment that will give families a choice through government cooperation. There are promising signs that many citizens in this country and in our state recognize in greater numbers the benefit of giving school choice to families,” Archbishop Cupich said. “They see that if the state were to lose more Catholic schools, it will increase the burden on taxpayers.” The archbishop said he is aware of and supports the work that Ed Choice Illinois and elected officials are doing on legislation that will provide tax incentives for individuals and corporations to donate to scholarship funds for parochial schools. “I want to be clear. This is not about pitting private/parochial schools versus public and charter schools; the effort aims to support all three sectors so that all families have access to a high quality school, no matter what sector they choose,” he said. “In humility, we recognize that we have many reasons to be thankful for the sacrifices of so many in the past,” he said. “We also understand that new partnerships are necessary to continue the legacy handed on to us.” Holy Cross Father Tim Scully, cofounder of the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame, emceed the event and echoed the archbishop’s sentiments. “We are called to ‘think out of the box,’ and reinvent the gift of Catholic schools in a way that is appropriate for our contemporary deeply secularizing American context. For, never before in the history of elementary and secondary education in the United States, has there been more opportunity for innovation and bold re-thinking than in the public squares of America today,” he said. Scully talked about the many benefits Catholic schools bring to American society beyond saving governments money. One of those is the history of educating immigrant communities, which was a reason for forming Catholic schools in this country 130 years ago. “Will our generation be the first to deprive the most recent immigrant communities to our great country the gift of a Catholic education? Did you know that Latino children who attend Catholic schools, for example, are 42 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 250 percent more likely to graduate from college?” Scully asked. “The same can be said, by the way, of our African-American brothers and sisters. Researchers call that effect the ‘Catholic school advantage.’ In simple terms: The greater the disadvantage or the achievement gap, the greater the boost a student receives by attending a Catholic school.” For information on the campaign, visit www.toteachwhochristis.org.