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(LifeSiteNews) — A trusted resource for Catholic parents and high schoolers who want to choose a university faithful to Catholic teaching will now expand its assessment program to K-12 schools and homeschool resources.

The Newman Guide, an annual publication from the Cardinal Newman Society, is expanding its offerings to help parents identify quality K-12 schools, homeschool programs, and even graduate schools. A representative for the society spoke to LifeSiteNews about its new initiative.

With Newman Guide recognition from The Cardinal Newman Society at all levels of Catholic education, we hope to provide families with a pathway to a seamless faithful Catholic education,” Kelly Salomon, vice president for Newman Guide Programs told LifeSiteNews via email.

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She said the group will rely on authoritative Catholic sources to determine how faithful a school is to the Catholic Church:

Newman Guide recognition requires adherence to The Cardinal Newman Society’s standards covering key aspects of Catholic education, from academics and admissions to athletics and faculty hiring. We derive our standards from the Church’s guidance on Catholic education. Sources include the Church councils, popes, Vatican congregations, the U.S. bishops conference, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other Church documents.

We look for institutions that integrate true Catholic teaching across the entire curriculum and strive to form students in virtue and fidelity. A Newman Guide institution strives for the very best of faithful Catholic education and stands as an exemplar for other educators nationwide. 

Salomon said the guide comes at a time when Catholic school enrollment is dropping and there is a “crisis of education.”

There are serious problems in American Catholic education today, causing the loss of more than 5,0000 Catholic schools, mostly parochial, and 2.6 million students over the last 50 years,” Salomon told LifeSiteNews. 

There is a lack of faith among professed Catholics, which Salomon says can be partially addressed through better education.

She told LifeSiteNews:

Today, the crisis of fidelity among baptized Catholics is rooted in a crisis of education. Too many Catholic schools and colleges mirror public education, and secular institutions are pushing falsehoods like gender ideology that are contrary to the faith. Among American millennials who attended non-Catholic schools, only five percent of them still attend weekly Mass. Among young adult Catholics, nearly 75 percent do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Less than half of American millennials call themselves Christian. This is a failure of proper formation and teaching.

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However, she told LifeSiteNews of a “renewal” of “authentic Catholic education.”

 “[M]any Catholic schools [are] strengthening their Catholic identity and curriculum, while new, lay-run Catholic schools are emerging,” she said. “The Newman Guide is needed today to help highlight schools that are doing Catholic education well and point families to these places. It’s also needed to encourage Catholic school superintendents, principals, and teachers to strengthen Catholic identity to meet Newman Guide standards.”

The Cardinal Newman executive said that authentic, faithful Catholic schools turn out better than nominally Catholic schools that adopt secular beliefs.

Catholic families are seeing the Newman Guide difference and that it’s an education worth investing in,” she said. “Overall, we’ve seen clear evidence that the distinctive, faithful, and counter-cultural Newman Guide schools are in a much better position than secularized Catholic schools that try to compete with public education yet offer the same secular and woke nonsense.”

Grading K-12 schools is not an entirely new area for the Newman Society, which already provides substantial resources for Catholic schools that want to remain authentically Catholic. The group currently hosts a Catholic Education Honor Roll which “helps schools strengthen their Catholic identity by evaluating internal policies and practices and recognizing schools committed to the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education.” The group will phase out the honor roll and “all new recognition will be in The Newman Guide,” Salomon said. 

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Catholic grade schools and high schools can also take advantage of sample employment policies, human sexuality policies, and other best practices documents through the Cardinal Newman Society.

When Catholic education is done well, it is a great blessing!” Salomon told LifeSiteNews. “The best gift that we can provide a Catholic child is a faithful Catholic education – whether in parochial Catholic schools, independent Catholic schools, or homeschooling – that helps them grow in wisdom and virtue, then continue that education at a faithful Catholic college or graduate program.”