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Books explore what makes urban Catholic schools successful


These are the covers of "Putting Education to Work: How Cristo Rey High Schools Are Transforming Urban Education" by Megan Sweas and "Anointed Moments: Everyday Miracles While Transforming Two Schools, Thousands of People, and a Dog Named Blue" by Dan Horn. The books are reviewed by Daniel S. Mulhall. (CNS)

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"Putting Education to Work: How Cristo Rey High Schools Are Transforming Urban Education" by Megan Sweas. HarperOne (San Francisco, 2014). 272 pp., $24.99.

"Anointed Moments: Everyday Miracles While Transforming Two Schools, Thousands of People, and a Dog Named Blue" by Dan Horn. Dan Horn Books (Los Angeles, 2014). 321 pp., $16.95.

Catholic schools could be considered an endangered species.

According to statistics provided by the National Catholic Educational Association, enrollment in Catholic elementary and secondary schools has dropped from a high of 5.2 million students in the early 1960s to less than 2 million students today. Over the last 10 years more than 1,800 Catholic schools have been closed or consolidated, most of these in urban areas.

The situation isn't all negative, however. Forty-two new Catholic schools opened in 2013 in dioceses across the country, some of these in urban areas. Catholic schools now serve a more diverse audience than they did in earlier decades, with nearly 20 percent of students being racial minorities.

The books "Putting Education to Work" and "Anointed Moments" tell the stories of Catholic schools that have had success in serving these minority students in urban areas. "Putting Education to Work" provides an in-depth examination of the Cristo Rey network of schools, while "Anointed Moments" provides stories from the perspective of a Catholic school principal.

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