Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


A Catholic education pays cash dividends

April 4th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

From Miller-McCune …

Catholic high schools in the United States have long boasted a 99 percent graduation rate compared to 73 percent for public schools, and they report sending twice as many students to four-year colleges.

Now, a study from Michigan State University system’s Oakland University finds there may be a substantial cash benefit for those who obtain a Catholic high school degree. On average, it shows, students who graduated in 1957 from Catholic high schools earned 18 percent higher wages in their mid-30s and mid-50s than their peers in public high schools.

It’s true that Catholic students tend to have higher IQs and more educated and affluent parents than students in public schools, said researcher Young-Joo Kim, a former assistant professor of education at Oakland. But even taking into account those differences, she said, Catholic high school graduates still earned 10 percent more than their peers in public schools.

More here.



8 Responses to “A Catholic education pays cash dividends”

  1. avatar Jim R says:

    This article demonstrates the fundamental problem with today’s Catholic education. It perpetuates the real reason we have Catholic education – to provide a cheaper form of private education. That is does OK.

    Of course, the reason we should have Catholic education is the faith formation of the young. But, no one really wants to try to do that. Want proof? The few studies on the differences in moral positions or knowledge of the faith between Catholic school and public school students I’ve seen demonstrate no difference.

    Of course, we educate them. Like any private school, we reject those too poor to pay and kick out trouble makers. And, we don’t offend anybody by actually teaching the faith. Sorry, but that is my experience.

    I hope it’s changing, but articles like this don’t give me any hope in that regard.

  2. avatar Mike says:

    Anon. 10:19,

    FWIW, every one of those students who failed one or more classes had already passed an entrance exam – at least around here – so the school, the parents and, most importantly, the child all knew he/she was capable of doing the work. Also, they are “expelled” only if they do not re-take the classes they failed in summer school. Many do – and learn a valuable lesson in the process.

    There’s another interesting counter-argument to your claim. It’s anecdotal to be sure (i.e., one school district only), but I suspect it’s true of many Catholic schools. I wrote about it here.

  3. avatar Jim R says:

    Mike, your prior article on Wichita has it right:

    “According to Mr. Voboril,

    This is how Catholic schools should be. They are built around faith. They are built around parish. They are built around community. And they are built around the Spirit. We don’t separate school from parish, parish from diocese, it’s all part of the same whole. And that whole is living the stewardship way of life….”

    NOTE #1 on the hit parade: “faith” not scores, not college admission, not wages or IQ. I pray Wichita is serious (and I think it is), and the faith remains the focus.

  4. avatar Mike says:

    Jim R,

    Wichita is not a flash-in-the-pan success. Their story began with one parish in the late 1960s and a pastor who challenged his parishioners to live a true stewardship way of life. Within less than 10 years he had enough families putting enough money into the weekly collection that the parish was able to provide a tuition-free Catholic education – elementary and high school – for every child who wanted one. When a new bishop took over in the early 1980s he realized what a great example he had and encouraged all his parishes to emulate St. Francis and they gradually did.

    You can read the whole story here.

  5. avatar RAnn says:

    In our archdiocese Catholic high schools are the norm for the middle class. It is also normal for some to be considered better than others and for the top students to flock to the “good” schools. My son ended up in a lower tier school–but one which has over 95% of its graduates start college. The problem? Of the students who were freshman with my son, less than 60% graduated from that high school. Now, some may have gone to other Catholic high schools but my guess is that the majority of those who left were in my son’s boat–after struggling for two years with a college prep curriculum, and looking at two more years of the same thing, we opted to make life more pleasant for all concerned and put him in a public high school that has the audacity to think that the fact that kids aren’t headed for college doesn’t mean there is nothing to teach them.

  6. avatar Mike says:

    Anon. 8:24,

    The “best”, most informed, and faithfilled Catholic youth have generally been a part of this three pronged effort.

    My perspective is different than yours but I’ve seen the same thing. I’m quite involved in my parish (including 7 years as a junior high catechist) and it’s pretty clear that strong Catholic parents produce strong Catholic kids. I’ve seen both kinds of exceptions, but they have been rare.

    As I see it, the main problem – in this diocese, anyway – has been the generally abysmal level of authentic catechesis over the last 40 or so years, both in our parishes and in some of our schools. Several of my friends got their parish level formation after Vatican II and all most can now remember is doing crafts projects and singing songs (not hymns). One of them calls it her “felt banner catechesis” period. Our schools, especially our high schools, have also had their problems, with some religion teachers openly dissenting from Catholic teaching. According to a recent report that situation continues to this day in at least one of them. Children who have received this kind of formation in the faith grow up to be those parents who, as you say, “want the emphasis to be on Math and Science and high state scores.”

    Some families have managed to overcome these problems; many, however, have not.

  7. avatar Bob says:

    Test scores and good academic outcomes are very important and I would not send my child to any Catholic school that does produce great academic outcomes.

    Catholicism has a terrific history of intellectual tradition, which unfortunately gets lost when right wing poorly educated Catholics run the school.

  8. avatar Mike says:


    I would suspect any school would suffer if run by “poorly educated Catholics,” whether from the left wing or the right, progressive or orthodox.

    Still, most of the credit for that “terrific history of intellectual tradition” must be given to centuries worth of men and women today’s culture would label as “right wing” or “orthodox.” They somehow managed not to allow an unapologetic belief in all that the Church teaches get in the way of their scholarship.

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