The school choice measures now before Congress would give parents the option to send their children to public, private, or parochial schools of choice. Thanks to the growing body of research supporting Catholic school education, Congress can be certain that inner-city children would benefit from these measures. This research looks at the impact of Catholic schools on a range of outcomes such as grades, standardized test scores, dropout and graduation rates, college attendance, and future wage gains.
In a study published in 1990, for example, the Rand Corporation analyzed big-city high schools to determine how education for low income minority youth could be improved. It looked at 13 public, private, and Catholic high schools in New York City that attracted minority and disadvantaged youth. Of the Catholic school students in these schools, 75 to 90 percent were black or Hispanic. The study found that:
- The Catholic high schools graduated 95 percent of their students each year, while the public schools graduated slightly more 50 percent of their senior class;
- Over 66 percent of the Catholic school graduates received the New York State Regents diploma to signify completion of an academically demanding college preparatory curriculum, while only about 5 percent of the public school students received this distinction;
- 85 percent of the Catholic high school students took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), compared with just 33 percent of the public high school students;
- The Catholic school students achieved an average combined SAT score of 803, while the public school students' average combined SAT score was 642; and
- 60 percent of the Catholic school black students scored above the national average for black students on the SAT, and over 70 percent of public school black students scored below the same national average.
The line that "everyone" thought it was impossible to educate poor, inner-city, minority youth until KIPP arrived is a fiction. Conservatives thought Catholic schools worked. Liberals thought integration, head start, progressive schools or other alternatives would work.
Somehow we've ended up with a model of public, secular, data-driven parochial schools with TFA-ers taking the place of nuns.
And I came up with that example in the first page of the first Google search I tried. It is not an obscure mystery.