Catholic Schools Can Anchor Urban Neighborhoods

A new book by two Notre Dame professors finds that long established Catholic schools anchor urban neighborhoods, providing beacons of hope and even keeping crime down. In Lost Classroom, Lost Community, authors Margaret Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett examine the role of Catholic schools in Chicago and Philadelphia.

In an interview in Our Sunday Visitor, Garnett notes that “A police beat in Chicago with an open Catholic school – between 1999 and 2004 – had about 30% less serious crime than a police beat without a Catholic school.”

The authors failed to find the same results in newer communities like Los Angeles. Charter schools also did not appear to provide the anchoring effects of the Catholic schools. Garnett explains:

We don’t rule out the possibility that other kinds of schools are important to communities, but we think Catholic schools are doing something unique. That may have to do with what we call the secret sauce of Catholic schools – an intentional effort to combine education, faith and community.

Garnet also believes the Catholic schools are effective because they have arisen organically from ethnic communities and have been the center of those communities for many years.


Posted: August 15, 2014

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