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.
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