Friday, October 31, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Group Counters Ten Myths about Faith-Based Schools

A new report by the American Center for School Choice (ACSC), whose mission, according to its website, is to “expand public support for families to choose the schools they believe will best serve their children” countered ten common myths about public support of faith-based schools.

The group issued a report entitled "Religious Schools in America:  A Proud History and a Perilous Future," which counters arguments made by opponents of school choice.

One of those arguments claims that providing public support to families to choose a faith-based school violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that providing publicly supported scholarships directly to parents, either through tax credit scholarships or vouchers, is constitutional and 17 states now have such programs in operation,” stated ACSC.

In fact, the group points out that “in the Western Hemisphere, only Cuba and the United States do not routinely provide public support for parents to make that choice.”

The group also pointed out that faith-based schools, especially Catholic schools, are currently in a perilous economic situation.

“At one time, especially Catholic schools were staffed heavily by nuns and priests, but currently only 3.2 percent of the staff are in religious orders,” the report declared. “The resulting financial pressure, especially for schools serving the poor, has led to a significant decline in enrollment, and since 1990 more than 1,300 Catholic schools have closed.”

But despite these pressures, faith-based schools have performed well, according to ACSC.

“From 1998 to 2012, multiple researchers have conducted 12 ‘gold standard’ random assignment studies of voucher programs focused on academic outcomes,” the report stated. “No gold standard study has ever found a negative impact from allowing students to attend a private school; 11 of 12 found positive results. Overall, those 11 gold standard studies show that attending private schools (including faith-based schools) increases the likelihood of high school graduation and college attendance, as well as improved reading and math scores.”

The report concludes that “Faith-based schools are producing above-average academic results with fewer resources, in both traditional academic subjects and also in the development of the virtues of character, respect for differences, and citizenship. In short, faith-based schools are an essential element in the mosaic of American education, and deserve both support for their contributions and protection for their distinctiveness.”

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