The first Catholic schools were founded in the early seventeenth century in what are now the states of Florida and Louisiana, predating the schools of Puritan Massachusetts. Beset by conflicts with public officials and anti-immigrant nativist forces, to say nothing of internal disputes, Catholic education nevertheless prevailed. While the Catholic school population peaked in the 1960s, the schools have enjoyed a considerable revival at the turn of the twenty-first century, often serving non-Catholic students with lay teachers. This entry discusses that history and record of achievement.

Early History

Catholics constituted a minuscule portion of the country's population when the nation's first Catholic bishop, John Carroll, called for the instruction of Catholic youth in 1792 with the goal of insuring their religious commitment. Catholics had often been victims ...

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