The decision to send our children to a Catholic School was probably incommensurably easier for us than for the vast majority of the US Catholics. Let me therefore start with those aspects of our situation that made our decision easier.
Equal Footing with the State
First, in Slovakia, Catholic schools receive funding from the state. Every year the state determines an amount it will pay for each student attending a school in the given year. This per student payment goes to every school recognized by the state, be it public, Catholic, or non-Catholic private. And even though the law states that Catholic and private schools get only 88% of this amount, the costs and fees that are extra compared with public school are not significant enough that it could reasonably deter someone from sending their children to a Catholic school. Thus, we don't face a financial challenge.
Second, there are five elementary schools in our town: three of them public, one Catholic, and one private. The Catholic school is furthest from where we live. We have to drive our kids to and form school every day, since there are no school buses. Had we opted for the nearest school, which is public, the kids could walk to/from the school. Thus, the distance to our school is a disadvantage and the driving is a burden we wouldn’t have in public school.
However, we live in a small town (around twenty thousand inhabitants) so the drive takes 10-15 minutes on a day with bad traffic, with good traffic it takes five. A walk to the other side of the town where our school is about twenty minutes. There is public transportation, so when the kids get older, the burden of having to drive them will disappear (the two older ones are already able to take a public transportation to and from school). However, even now, the extra distance does not deter us from sending the kids to a Catholic school.
Third, the academic quality and performance of the elementary school is approximately the same as its public school counterpart. Thus, when making the decision to send our kids to the Catholic school, we didn’t have to worry we would select a school that is academically inferior.
A Different World for our Kids
From what has been said so far it might seem that the situation is ideal in Slovakia. Our decision was relatively easy, but it might not be as easy in bigger towns, where the distance to a Catholic school might be much bigger burden, where the academic performance of different schools is more diverse, etc. However, in general the challenges one has to face in Slovakia in connection to sending one’s kids to a Catholic school are relatively few and easy, when compared to many other countries.
Both my wife and I started school during communism, then a few years after the Velvet revolution the Catholic elementary school in our town was established, and we were both transferred there to finish the last 2-3 years of our elementary education. We then both continued to attend secondary schools that were also Catholic. That is probably the reason why, the question for us was not whether we should send our kids to the Catholic school, but whether the obstacles and burdens we will face are serious enough to stop us from doing so.
After weighing all the pros and contras, we share with most American parents the main reason for sending our kids to Catholic school: that they will go to a school that will share our faith and values and thus support us in transmitting them to our kids. This, we thought, is the most important mission the Catholic school has in the present times when virtues have gone mad, as Chesterton would probably put it. And despite the fact that not everything is perfect at our school, we have never regretted our decision to Catholic school our kids.