Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cardus' Research

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.


  1. Actually, the results show that in many areas, the Public Catholic schools are doing WORSE than Public High Schools. Maryvale and Wayside etc would not be included are they are <20yrs old and also they only interviewed graduates from HIGH schools not elementary schools..

    My analysis:
    The "separate" Catholic are mainly
    Ontario Public Catholic High Schools. The "independent" Catholic High
    School are mainly semi govt-funded Catholic High Schools in Manitoba
    and BC, not truly independent Catholic high school academies (i checked with author on this) . The good news from this report is that independent schools do MUCH BETTER than Public and Public Catholic schools in areas that
    public schools say are important (eg. volunteering, political engagement, etc). And other work shows that they do
    better academically!!

    The bad news is that Public "Catholic" HSs are WORSE than
    Public schools in many areas:
    - more likely to support Same Sex Marriage
    - more likely to believe that Religion is a Private Matter that should be Kept
    Out of Public Debates
    - less likely to feel an obligation to vote
    - less likely to believe God Helps Me Decide what is Right and Wrong

  2. I don't recall the 'worse' part you mentioned in the first paragraph, but okay. As principal of Maryvale I can assure you we are not only an elementary school. I don't disagree with anything else you wrote.

  3. Oh, I know Maryvale is not only an elementary school. But to qualify for the survey, you would have to have been graduating Grade 12s fifteen years ago. Soon, God willing, Maryvale will be K-12!!

    The only reason I brought it up was that "independent Catholic schools" did poorly on the survey. However, like I said, these are not truly independent Catholic academies, just semi-govt-funded high schools in Manitoba and wacky BC.

    The reason I mentioned that Public Catholic high schools (again, author of study says this is basically Ontario) were doing worse than public schools was my points at bottom of post. eg. in Figure 33 of their study, Public Catholic high school graduates were MORE likely to support same sex marriage and cohabitating before marriage. In Figure 29, Public Catholic graduates had a HIGHER belief than Public High school graduates that "Religion is a Private Matter that should be Kept
    Out of Public Debates about Social and Political Issues"

    The differences were not huge, but in many areas Public Catholic graduates are worse in their beliefs than going to Public High School. And this was 15-20yrs ago from graduation. I can only imagine what it will be like in 15years interviewing 35year olds, now that there are GSAs, "inclusive and equitable education", and all the other "progressive education" gobblygook

    PS: I think secular private schools do better academically because the 20K tuition ensures that only the children of super well educated parents can attend. Christian private schools have lower tuitions and hence a much broader socio-economic spectrum of parents (from bus drivers to doctors)

  4. Very good points. Thanks so much!