kitchen table math, the sequel: Catholic Schools & crime

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catholic Schools & crime

This paper represents the second stage of an effort to test previously unstudied implications of a dramatic shift in the American educational landscape, namely, the rapid disappearance of Catholic schools from urban neighborhoods. In a previous study, we used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to measure how Catholic school closures affected perceived levels of disorder and social cohesion in Chicago neighborhoods. In this paper, we use data provided by the Chicago Police Department to test two related hypotheses about the effects of Catholic school closures on violent crime rates. The first is that Catholic school closures will lead, in relatively short order, to increased crime in a neighborhood. The second is that that crime will increase most dramatically in those police beats where previous school closures led to elevated levels of physical and social disorder and suppressed levels of social cohesion in 1995. We find that Catholic school closures are linked to increase in violent crimes, and that the most significant increases occur in police beats with the highest levels of school-closure-related disorder and -suppressed social cohesion in 1995. Our study contributes in unique ways to two critical legal-policy debates about policing and education policy. First, and most significantly, our data provides a novel means of testing the broken windows hypothesis. We know, from our previous investigation, where school closures have elevated disorder and suppressed social cohesion, and, using a 3SLS analysis to solve simultaneous equations, we are able to link these findings with subsequent elevated levels of serious crimes. These findings suggest a connection between disorder and serious crime, even if not the direct one posited by Wilson and Kelling. Second, the study contributes new and important evidence to debates about school choice, especially in light of the very real possibility that urban Catholic schools will continue to disappear unless new sources of tuition assistance become available to the students that they serve.

Margaret Brinig & Nicole Stelle Garnett
Notre Dame Working Paper, March 2010

We need vouchers.

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of charter school imagery looks like Catholic schools of yore?


Raymond Johnson said...

I just finished Diane Ravitch's "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" and she's a pretty big proponent of Catholic schools. Interestingly, she thinks charter schools are the primary threat to Catholic and other private schools because parents get choice without the cost. Ravitch is not pro-charter, at least in their current form, and thinks eliminating or minimizing charters is a key in building strong public and private schools. Thoughts?

Allison said...

---Has anyone else noticed that a lot of charter school imagery looks like Catholic schools of yore?

But that's because Catholic schools on the whole have abandoned that imagery themselves, just as they've abandoned the faith, as well as the instructional and management principles that made them strong schools in the first place.

Catholic schools don't fail by themselves. They fail because their parishes are failing. Their parishes are failing for reasons of demography, institutional malaise, and loss of adherence to the magisterium.

Right now, Catholic schools offer very little beyond their public school counterparts. Their teachers have been trained in the same ed schools and are stewed in the same philosophical groundings of constructivism and "practical" appplications of their various subjects. Their textbooks are the same as public schools texts. At the k-8 level, they lack any curricular models that would lead them to, as whole, define a curriculum against a set of standards.

And they cost 4-7k a year, in addition to whatever you give your parish church.

How can they possibly compete with charters when charters are free, and offer some chance of providing decent academics?

The Catholic neighborhood school requires a Catholic neighborhood, and those are largely gone. The Catholic destination school requires a pull bigger than the charter school destination school, and if you're Catholic, and have more than 1 kid, it's got to have a 10k a year pull more than that charter destination.

Allison said...

I've not read Ravitch's book yet, but charters are definitely a threat to any private school that charges LESS than the effective per pupil spending of public schools.

Yes, LESS. The ones that charge more are offering something more than you can buy at any public school--that's why they cost more, on some level. You may argue they cost too much, or the money's not spent as you like, but you're buying more of something in that process.

The ones charging less than the charter's effective per pupil spending are the ones that are going to lose. They cost more than nothing, but don't offer as much as the charter school, since they are spending less. And while Catherine can argue less money can imply better education, usually it doesn't (just as more money doesn't imply more education, but it implies more SOMETHING.)

But actually, vouchers are the last nail in the coffin for Catholic schools. The vouchers will come with some federal strings attached--national curricula, unionized teachers, teaching of gay marriage as equal to marriage, something, and the schools will have to close or give up what makes them private and/or Catholic.

Allison said...

The paper itself is gated, so I can't read it. I will try to ask around for a copy.

But given that I've not seen their methodology, my biggest question is how do they separate the issue of the close of the school from the death of the parish?

Schools close when they run out of money, but parishes aren't closed (even when they are serving no one) until a bishop makes the painful decision to close them.

However, an essentially empty parish means the neighborhood has already lost the biggest most obvious social device for preventing crime, poverty and social dislocation: the Church. If the people in a neighborhood were once but aren't now following church precepts, gee, it's not surprising crime is rising, is it?

Catherine Johnson said...

charter schools are the primary threat to Catholic and other private schools because parents get choice without the cost

Absolutely - charters are killing Catholic schools.

I don't disagree with Allison (I don't know enough about changes in Catholic schools) but there is no question here in New York that charters are hurting Catholic schools badly.

An example of what Allison is talking about: Westchester County. Catholic schools are dying here, too; the little school in my town closed last year (but reopened as a Catholic sped school! I know the principal - still haven't gotten in touch with her to find out what's happening there.)

There are no charter schools in Westchester County & there's plenty of money.

But Catholic schools are dying here, too.