I had a most enjoyable time Tuesday night (despite being under the weather). Redeemer Christian High School here in Ottawa hosted Cardus' Ottawa release of their school research. Their page is here. Any reader of the SCCB knows how highly I think of Cardus.
The research was well presented. I make no presumption of being able to convey the statistical nuances, yet there are several things that a layman like me can point out.
Perhaps the most surprising was that there seems to be absolutely no spiritual benefit to attending Ontario's Separate School System (i.e. the Catholic Public) over the Public School System. None whatsoever! I know we all generally thought there wasn't much Catholicism being taught. Now thanks to Cardus we know that the Ontario Separate System is making no difference at all.
The real point of interest for me, however, was how 'private' Catholic schools were stacking up. Not well. But let me offer some explanation.
Cardus surveyed people of the age group 23-39, I think it was. What serious Catholic out there would think that this age group would have received a good Catholic education? As my colleague, Adam Parker, Principal of Wayside Academy, indicates, these good private schools are mostly all younger than 20 years. In Halifax there is a school I actually attended when I was 4 years old, Sacred Heart. Now, keep in mind I WAS NOT CATHOLIC THEN. That was private Catholic schooling then. The new movement that started within the last 20 years, of which Mary, Mother of God, Wayside, and Maryvale are a part, would not have been well-represented in the Cardus study, or at all, because, for instance, Maryvale doesn't have any alumni who are 23 years of age yet. The older schools, like Sacred Heart in Halifax, have been and still seem to be little more than Catholic in name. Thus, the poor 'religious' impact results for private Catholic schools in the Cardus study. Catholic insiders think in terms of JP II Generation versus the previous generation, and know how fundamental the differences are. Cardus could not pick up on this.
Another point of interest to me lies in the relationship between academic excellence and religious commitment. Does faith work against reason? Home-schoolers have always believed that they have the best of both worlds, good education and good morals. Cardus seems not to undermine this belief of theirs. Yet, Protestant private schools score just as high on both these counts! I think this proves that once Catholic private schooling gets its act together, it will be able to present the full meal deal too. Of course, the secular private schools scored highest on the academic scale, so there is no easy way to deny that there is still some tension - practically speaking - between fides et ratio.
There were many other aspects of the study that were eye-opening for me as well, but I will let you check it out for yourself: here.