Catholic schools’ appeal to parents

In an attempt to provide their children with a quality education not available in traditional public schools, parents often choose Catholic schools (“The Catholic School Difference,” The Wall Street Journal, Jun. 2). But contrary to popular belief, they are not always Catholic.

A new study conducted for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by the University of California- Santa Barbara found that the emphasis on self-discipline was the reason.  This manifested itself in less disruptive behavior among students compared with their contemporaries in other schools.  Black and Hispanic students in Catholic schools in particular post higher achievement, higher graduation rates and higher college enrollment than their peers at nearby public schools.

I’m not sure that religion itself is the reason.  Catholic schools, like all non-public schools, play by a completely different set of rules.  They can admit and expel as they wish.  Charter schools can also do the same, which is why I question the role of religion.  Nevertheless, I’ve long believed that Catholic schools offer a sound education at a reasonable cost.  That’s why Catholic schools remain the largest non-government provider of education in the country, even though their number is shrinking.  It’s easy to forget that not too long ago Catholic schools educated one of every eight children and did it quite well, as renowned sociologist James Coleman documented in 1982.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)



2 Replies to “Catholic schools’ appeal to parents”

  1. As with charters, Catholic schools not only play by a different set of rules than neighborhood public schools but — more importantly, in my opinion — enroll a different mix of students.

    In the low-SES/inner-city areas, there are many concerned/functional parents and, unfortunately, many unconcerned/dysfunctional parents. For several reasons, the neighborhood public schools in these areas will often/usually be chaotic disasters with minor but endemic misbehavior and anti-academic-achievement peer pressure. Many concerned/functional parents, wanting to send their children to schools where the students are relatively well-behaved and there is pro-academic-achievement peer pressure, will opt for the charters or the Catholic schools. Sending children to the charters or the Catholic schools requires extra effort on the part of the parents (and, for the Catholic schools, often requires that the parents pay extra $). Accordingly, very few of the unconcerned/dysfunctional parents will send their children to the charters or the Catholic schools.

    It follows that virtually all of the students enrolled in the charters and the Catholic schools will be children of concerned/functional parents. Some of the students enrolled in the neighborhood public schools will also be children of concerned/functional parents. However, virtually all of the children of the unconcerned/dysfunctional parents will be enrolled in the neighborhood public schools.

    Bottom line: The charters and Catholic schools will, in the low-SES/inner-city areas, enroll students who are, on average, better behaved and more academic-achievement-oriented than the students at the neighborhood public schools. In effect, tracking based on how concerned/functional the students’ parents are.


    1. Labor Lawyer:That’s why I support parental choice. Parents who opt for Catholic or charter schools by their very action are engaged in their children’s education. I don’t think these schools are necessarily better than traditional public schools. But they produce better results for the most part because of the students who are enrolled.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: