Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Catholic education survey--please answer and share!

The Bedlam or Parnassus blogger has a good post today talking about the importance of Christian education. He references a recent post by Cardinal Dolan in which the good cardinal says:
Sound familiar? We Catholics have known this for years: there is no more tried-and-true way of passing on our Catholic faith to our kids than by sacrificing to put them in a Catholic school. Data proves they persevere in the faith at higher rates, pray better, are more faithful to Sunday Mass, live gospel values, are more generous to their parish, even have happier marriages, volunteer more, and transmit the faith to their own children, than those not in a Catholic school.
All due respect to Cardinal Dolan, but--really? Data shows that? I'd like to see that data, please. And if it's data from before, say, 1970, then I think that it's just slightly possible that the data has changed, rather.

Also, when that data was collected, were Catholic homeschools counted as Catholic schools, or not? I'm guessing not--but I'd like to see how Catholic homeschools did in the metrics of perseverance in the faith, attendance at Sunday Mass, the living of gospel values, generosity to the parish, happier marriages etc. One small thing: I would also like to see "generosity to the parish" measured in terms of percent of annual income donated, not total donation dollar amount; it shouldn't surprise anyone that graduates of Catholic schools are comparatively more wealthy given that many Catholic schools these days cost too much for most poor Catholic families to be able to afford to send their children to these schools in the first place.

In fact, I'd like to see a survey done among Catholics. I described the survey in a comment at Magister Christianus' blog this way, though I've altered some of it slightly here:
I wish that a study would be done of Catholic school students that would ask these questions at least four or five years after high school graduation:
--Were you educated in Catholic schools primarily, public schools primarily, or home school primarily?

--Do you still go to Mass every Sunday? If not, about when did you stop (e.g. high school, college, after college)?

--Do you still accept Church teachings in all areas? In particular, do you reject (at least in principle--I realize that to be a sinner is not to cease to be a Christian) the sins of fornication, of contraception (if married), of abortion, and all other sins of sexual immorality? Or do you think the Church must change her teachings in these areas to conform to the culture?

--Do you pray? If so, do you pray daily? Weekly? Or less often?

--Do you go to confession on a regular basis?

--Do you see your relationship with God as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?

--Do you see your relationship with the Church as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?

--Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don't go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God?
I initially said that I'd like to see Catholics ages 22 to 32 respond, but now I think it would be helpful simply to ask any Catholic age 22 and older; stating one's age in one's responses would be totally optional. My suspicion, which I shared at Bedlam or Parnassus, is that Catholic students educated in Catholic schools since about 1970 would show rates of loss of faith and/or loss of practice of Catholicism that would be similar or even greater than those Catholic students educated in public schools since that time.

This is because in a time and in places when Catholic schools were nearly ubiquitous, run by devoted religious sisters, affordable to all families in the parish, and very orthodox in their teaching of the faith, it took something approaching religious indifference for a parent to choose to send a child to public schools. But today, when Catholic schools are more scattered, are run by lay teachers some of whom openly reject Church teaching, expensive to the point of economic elitism in some parts of the country, and rather weak in terms of orthodoxy, it is not religious indifference that prompts some parents to choose public schooling or homeschooling for their children; in some situations, parents choose to avoid the Catholic schools because they don't want their children to lose the faith!

I have no way to conduct a formal, scientific survey. But I would be very interested in seeing the results of an informal one--and thus I ask my Catholic readers if they or their children over 22 would be interested in answering my questions in the comment boxes. I would also ask readers to share this survey any way they'd like (your own blog, Facebook, etc.).

One final note: some might wonder why my question about Church teaching focuses on the area of sexual morality. I chose this area because it is highly relevant to the Church today, given the impending political battle over contraceptive coverage and religious freedom. While it might be instructive to find out if, say, Catholic school graduates reject the Immaculate Conception or the Hypostatic Union, I don't think it will be as instructive as hearing where Catholic graduates of Catholic, public, and home schools stand in terms of their acceptance of Church teaching regarding sexual morality.

Please answer! Please share! Let's find out if Catholic schools still do the best job of passing on the Catholic faith--because if they don't, then that is a problem in need of a solution.

UPDATE: I was asked if answers to the survey can be anonymous. Yes, they can, for this post--I will publish whether you tag with a nickname or not.

26 comments:

Charlotte said...

I agree that it would be interesting to see Dolan's statistics, but I believe them and I'll tell you why:

I think these statistics reflect a "new" Catholicism. The kind where, for example, "living Gospel values" equates with volunteering or being "nice" to people. Or where increased mass attendance is, in actuality, attending mass more than just on Ash Wednesday or Christmas - it might mean 5 or 6 times a year. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Happier marriages may actually mean what you pointed out - richer people in better socio-economic situations who can afford Catholic school possibly and probably, on the whole, have happier marriages than more poor, lesser educated folk.

And transmitting the faith? That can be as simple for some as enrolling the next generation of kids in a Catholic school and making one's first communion.

It all depends on how loosely the questions being asked were worded. For example, what if one of the questions is: How important to you is your Catholic faith? The respondent answers "very important" and voila! we have "data" that means Catholic school graduates persevere in their faith.

Cardinal Dolan's job, like every other bishop, is to promote and keep Catholic schools open. He probably asked for some stats and that's what he was handed.

JMB said...

I went to both public and Catholic schools through high school, and graduated from a Jesuit university.

I left the faith during my college and post college years. I didn't have any other reason other than I was too lazy to go to Mass on Sunday.
I came back to the faith after I got married and had children with my Catholic spouse.

I go to Mass as often as I can. For me it is in response to a calling from Jesus to be there. I have learned much more about the Eucharist, my Church and my faith as an adult because I wanted to. It was a personal choice. I think that's what faith ultimately comes down to, a personal response to a relationship with Christ, and it doesn't matter so much where and when you went to school. I would argue that your parents' influence on you is far more important than where you went to school.

Lauren Anderson said...

1. Attended public schools throughout.
2. Always at Mass on Sundays and Saturday mornings. Just the last few weeks I've been going to daily Mass.
3. I accept Church teaching in all areas. I also understand the concept that if I don't know why the Church has a teaching on a subject, it is my job to educate myself on the matter not to form an opinion on my own.
4. I pray daily. Wish I could do more, actually, I'm jealous of those who have more opportunity to pray throughout the day then I seem to be able to do myself.
5. Yes, I want to receive the Eucharist.
6. Of course my relationship with God is very important.
7. Yes, my relationship with the Church is very important. I want to understand my faith and am constantly on the journey to do so.
8. I am Catholic.

Interesting post, I always enjoy your written word.

MacBeth Derham said...

Thought you might like to see this: http://www.licatholic.org/columnists/respect-life-7 . This is rather more indicative of the results of Catholic schools, as far as I have seen. As for me?

All public school, private formerly-protestant college.

Mass attendance casual during college, but regular and enthusiastic now, especially the TLM or well-done NO.

Both God and Church are positive, important relationships.

Practicing Catholic, age 48, and seen some crazy stuff. Still seeing crazy stuff.

Anonymous said...

I didn't meet the criteria because of age but I can tell you I homeschool now because I went to Catholic Schools! I adhere to the teachings but not because I was taught them at school, but learned them later. I wonder how many homeschooling mom's are like that?
Mrso

Red Cardigan said...

Mrso, I'm fine with anyone over 22 participating! :)

Liz said...

I really don't count because I'm a convert and my kids were 15 and 18 respectively when I came into the Church. However, my kids were homeschooled, and it was my homeschooled son who first voiced the idea of becoming Catholic (he read a lot of Fulton Sheen articles in the encyclopedia - no joke!). My son actually came into the Church at 19 and my daughter at 16. They both are serious Catholics, and were involved in the Catholic center activities on their secular campus. My daughter and her husband have one little girl so far (eagerly hoping for more), and are planning on homeschooling.

However, my friend at our parish has 9 kids all of whom went to Catholic school for at least part of their education. The oldest six are not practicing. The younger three who were taken out of Catholic school at 9th, 7th, and 5th grades respectively and educated at home the rest of their school years are serious Catholics (the oldest of the three is currently in Rome as a student from St. Thomas More College). That family would tell you that Catholic school was not good for their kids' faith.

I taught in our parish school for a few months several years ago, and frankly I was totally unimpressed with the catechesis the kids had gotten and with the lack of fidelity to the faith among the teachers. The teachers who were Catholic were a. either really ignorant about the faith (one of them said she couldn't have passed the religion test I gave my 6th graders) or deliberately disagreeing with things that were actually in the catechism. The religion teacher at the high school at that point was using Rosemary Reuther videos with her students. Since then, however, things have somewhat turned around. In recent years the religion class at the high school has been taught by the parochial vicar from our parish (young and orthodox), and the high school actually has Eucharist adoration once a week.

I think it really depends on the school. To a large extent the pastor of the parish determines the caliber of the faculty and administration of a parish school It the pastor hires a woman in a non-valid marriage as principal (and then uses her as Eucharistic minister at school Masses)it probably tells you something about his expectations of the school in general. The academics may be private school quality, but the Catholic catechesis is apt to be somewhat lacking.

One of the objections around here is that Catholic school has become the province of well to do families, many of whom are not Catholic. Our current pastor has been working hard to reverse that trend and increase the amount of scholarship aid available to children from actual Catholic families.

stef said...

- educated in Catholic school from age 5-16. state university for 2 years, Jewish/secular university for 2 more.

--Do you still go to Mass every Sunday? yes, though i went through a period in high school/college where i was just really going through the motions.

--Do you still accept Church teachings in all areas? YES.

--Do you pray? If so, do you pray daily? Weekly? Or less often? daily prayer, some days better than others. i do need to pray more though.

--Do you go to confession on a regular basis? yes.

--Do you see your relationship with God as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all? very important.

--Do you see your relationship with the Church as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all? very important.

--Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don't go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God? practicing Catholic -- and i mean that. i have seen too often, esp. recently, that one is a "practicing Catholic" even though they don't agree with the Church on contraception or abortion, or they hardly attend Mass. what exactly are they practicing and when are they practicing it?

Patrick said...

I'm 30, so I guess I'll reply. I don't see the point of these, as everyone who reads these weblogs probably thinks religion is important.

Schools: Public schools at every level

Church Attendance: Every Sunday

Accept Church Teachings: Yes, absolutely. My one caveat is that I think sexual sins are over-emphasized in importance. We're NOT Puritans: we're Catholics. Sexual sins are sinful, yes, but there is a tendency to despise the body and see sexual sins as the worst of mortal sins, which they objectively are not.

Pray: Yes, I say the rosary daily.

Confess Regularly: Yes, about once per month, average.

Relationship With God: Most important thing in life.

Relationship with Church: Very important

Best Description: Practicing Catholic

Anonymous said...

1. Yes. Primary and High School. I largely decided to homeschool because of what was not taught in Catholic Schools. I learned right along with my children as I taught them.
2. Yes, We still attend Mass. There was a brief time when we couldn't due to living circumstances - muslim country.
3. I accept those now but not during high school and formation as I was taught if I prayed about something, I was the one to make that decision. There was no teaching on it.
4. I pray the LOTH daily and in between, depending on the household. :)
5. I used to go monthly. Have gotten out of it.
6. My relationship with God is most important.
7. I wish my relationship with my parish were better, but I agree the relationship with the Church as important.
8.I am a practicing Catholic
MrsO
39

Red Cardigan said...

Highly interesting comments so far, all! Thanks so much for participating!

John Henry Lamming said...

Something tells me this is a quiz for cradle Catholics - not so much converts.

Red Cardigan said...

John, it would depend on when the conversion took place, most likely.

But you bring up an interesting point: converts usually choose the faith as adults and thus receive their instruction as adults. How does that fit into Cardinal Dolan's idea that the best way to transmit the faith is to send children to Catholic school?

I think a different survey might be interesting: if you are a convert, did you ever attend Catholic school before your conversion, and did attending Catholic school make you want to be Catholic? Perhaps another post is in order.

Diamantina da Brescia, aka Gentillylace said...

--Were you educated in Catholic schools primarily, public schools primarily, or home school primarily?

I am 45 years old, educated in public schools exclusively (except for one year at a private women's college [non-Catholic]). Graduated from a state university.

--Do you still go to Mass every Sunday? If not, about when did you stop (e.g. high school, college, after college)?

I go to Mass every Sunday, and usually one or two weekdays as well. For a while during high school and college, my Mass attendance became erratic, and I converted to the Orthodox Church for 13 years in early adulthood (ages 23-36), which deepened my love of the Psalms and the Mother of God.

--Do you still accept Church teachings in all areas? In particular, do you reject (at least in principle--I realize that to be a sinner is not to cease to be a Christian) the sins of fornication, of contraception (if married), of abortion, and all other sins of sexual immorality? Or do you think the Church must change her teachings in these areas to conform to the culture?

I accept Church teaching in all areas, although I found Papal primacy of authority difficult when I first reverted to Catholicism.

--Do you pray? If so, do you pray daily? Weekly? Or less often?

I pray daily: I am obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as a Lay Carmelite, and strive to pray more than that.

--Do you go to confession on a regular basis?

Yes, I do: usually about once a month or so.

--Do you see your relationship with God as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?

Very important.

--Do you see your relationship with the Church as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?

Very important.

--Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don't go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God?

I am a practicing Catholic.

LarryD said...

1. Catholic schools, K-12
2. Yes
3. Yes - and no, the Church ought not change Her teachings.
4. Yes - daily (at least, that's my goal, which I don't always attain!)
5. Yes
6. Very important.
7. Very important.
8. Practicing Catholic.

Now, if you had asked me these questions 20 years ago (I am now 46), my answers would have been different - except for #1. I went through a period of gradual rejection during my college years and for the first 10 years or so post-college - an experience shared by many.

It goes without saying that I'm very glad I've returned!

Anonymous said...

I went to Catholic schools from 1st to 12th grade, 1970's-80's.

Stopped going to Mass as soon as I graduated H.S., reverted back to the Faith 22 years later when my children were approaching school age. I plainly saw how the culture was lying in wait to corrupt my children's innocence. God called me back & I couldn't resist His call.

We go to Mass every Saturday eve. or Sunday and I am homeschooling my kids.

I accept all Church teachings and am raising my kids to do the same.

I pray daily. Go to Confession monthly (kids too).

Relationship with God and His Catholic CHurch is very important.

I am a practicing Catholic, and trying real hard to instill the same in my children so that they won't have a 20+ year falling away as I did. (Please God)

~a mother

L. said...

An outlier for your data -- born literally on the day Vatican II ended:

-Educated in public schools, private university

--Attend Mass more often than not. Took a "break" for many years, then started going again.

--Reject some Church teachings, in particular fornication, contraception, sexuality and patriarchy. I don't expect the Church to change - it is what it is.

--Pray daily.

--No confession, because I am not sorry for all of my "sins" and don't want to be a hypocrite.

--Relationship with God -- as they say on Facebook, "It's complicated." And private.

--Relationship with the Church is very important, but not for the reason most people think.

--"Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don't go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God?"

None of the above.

Anonymous said...

Also keep in mind that the Catholic school situation in the NY Archdiocese isn't quite the hot mess that I hear so many bloggers/commenters writing about. It was much more so in the past, like when I went to high school in the 70s.

But now we do, actually, have some fairly good schools, both academically and spiritually speaking. Some are archdiocesan schools and some are private Catholic schools. Yes, costs are high, but so is everything else around here; tuition is still far lower than private secular schools.

I wonder if that has something to do with the lack of big homeschooling groups around here; sure, you can find them - you can find anything in/around NY if you look! - but even now, it's just not this big, active community that I hear about in so many other areas of the country.

And I think the Cardinal is working to make sure things move in the orthodox direction. It just so happens that today and tomorrow he's having masses at St. Pat's for Catholic high school seniors (why it's broken up into two days I'm not sure, but I love it that these kids from all over the archdiocese are coming to daily mass together at St. Patrick's Cathedral!) And I just found out that he's going to be the speaker at next month's Manhattan College graduation (which is a Christian Brothers school). I can only see these things as good.

And maybe Im wrong but I get the sense that because he's so media savvy, he knows just what and how to say things for public consumption, but behind the scenes, I'd bet he's a bit more...firm.

Anyway, here ya go:

Public from K-8; 9-12 Catholic and public after that.
Yup.
Yup
Yup; daily especially with Magnificat
Yup
Most important, my all, my everything, my reason for being
Same, since I try to be an obedient daughter
Practicing

~NYa

CW said...

I am 38.

1) Cradle Catholic, CCD through Confirmation. Public school education K-12. Catholic college. (But I should note that the college didn't have as much to do with my Catholic education as you might think, however, the people that I met there (students and some teachers outside of the classroom) who were faithful Catholics challenged me to learn more about the Faith than I ever learned before and that began my reversion to true Catholicism. In other words, the same thing might have happened at a state college that had a strong Catholic presence.

2) Yes and daily Mass once a week when I can.

3) I accept all Church teaching.

4) I pray everyday.

5) Try for confession once a month. Doesn't always happen but I do go more than once a year.

6) Very important although my trust issues (parent's divorce) get in the way of that relationship. Working on that.

7) Not sure what you mean by relationship with the Church but I guess I think of it as important since I consider myself a Catholic in good standing.

8) Practicing Roman Catholic

Charlotte said...

I have plenty to say about being a revert/convert. Char

Tony said...

I think the good Cardinal has confused correlation with causation. I believe faithful parents who bring their children up in the faith also are more likely to send their children to Catholic school (or home school).

c matt said...

Although I went to Catholic schools from 1st grade through high school, it didn't do much for me. Went to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, but rarely above the minimum required. College years were a little more spotty as for Mass attendance, shall we say. Confession is regular, but not as often as it should be. Assent to all Church teachings (complying is sometimes another matter). Most of what I know of Catholic Teaching I learned on the internet, not Catholic school. Age: between 45-50.

Of my 3 children (24, 21, 15)Catholic grade school through high school for 2, last one is in public high school now - the college grad doesn't really practice from what I can tell, the one in college now appears to (self reported) and seems to agree with RCC teaching, the youngest practices (not much choice!) and agrees with RCC teaching. 2 out of 3, I suppose.

Salixbabylonica said...

I'm 27, married, graduated from a Catholic College in 2008.

1. Primarily homeschooled (couple years in public school at the beginning)

2. We attend mass every Sunday.

3. Yes, I accept that the Church is wiser than I.

4. Yes, probably weekly, though I'm trying to bring that back up to daily again.

5. We try for confession every two months.

6. Relationship with God: very important.

7. Relationship with the Church? Very important.

8. I am a practicing Catholic.

Anonymous said...

(posted on my blog - this is first response)
–Were you educated in Catholic schools primarily, public schools primarily, or home school primarily? public

–Do you still go to Mass every Sunday? If not, about when did you stop (e.g. high school, college, after college)? Yes, in fact I go daily.

–Do you still accept Church teachings in all areas? In particular, do you reject (at least in principle–I realize that to be a sinner is not to cease to be a Christian) the sins of fornication, of contraception (if married), of abortion, and all other sins of sexual immorality? Or do you think the Church must change her teachings in these areas to conform to the culture? Yes in all areas…No, the Church should be as Christ made it, built on the Truth that does not change…

–Do you pray? If so, do you pray daily? Weekly? Or less often? Daily…

–Do you go to confession on a regular basis? I shoot for once a month…

–Do you see your relationship with God as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all? THE MOST IMPORTANT!

–Do you see your relationship with the Church as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all? MOST IMPORTANT–His Bride…

–Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don’t go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God? Born Catholic, fell away, had a conversion, and now I am back home practicing to be Catholic…God bless…

Patrick Praying said...

1. Catholic schools, 1st through law school. Dominicans, Marianists, Jesuits and Vincentians.

2. Not every Sunday. After college was when my weekly participation began to drop.

3. I do not accept Church teachings in all areas. In particular, I'm quite sure that I reject certain church teachings on sexuality. (The sin of masturbation is an example.)

4. I pray. At least weekly.

5. I go to confession on a regular basis.

6. I see my relationship with God as very important.

7. I see my relationship with the Church as very important.

8. I describe myself as a Roman Catholic who regularly practices in an Episcopal Church and who recognizes that because of my beliefs, many radical Catholics would exclude me from the label "Catholic."

Anonymous said...

Not a regular commenter, but here goes:

-Educated primarily in public schools, with book-end Catholic education (K-2 in parish school, and then Jesuit university for college)

-I currently go to Mass every Sunday, which was not the case when I was growing up in a Catholic home. We went to Mass most Sundays, unless something important - like a soccer game - conflicted.

-I accept Church teaching in all the referenced areas, though I struggle mightily with homosexuality, where it is quite difficult to figure out how Church teaching gets put into practice in my relationships with my many openly gay friends. (I'm personally straight, married, non-contracepting, etc.)

-I pray. Certainly more then weekly, probably daily, though I am very bad at putting aside dedicated time for prayer, so judging frequency is tough.

-What's a regular basis? Before I was married, I never made it more than 6 weeks without falling into mortal sin, so I went to Confession about that often. Marital chastity is (surprisingly?) easier, and I find myself going several times a year, though I should go more often. It's not something I was in the habit of - I went probably 3-5 times between my First Penance and college graduation.

-On a theoretical level, very important. As my previous answers might demonstrate, I am fairly comfortable assenting intellectually to the truths of the Faith, but quite terrible at putting them into practice. Unfortunately, I realize that on a practical, everyday level, my relationship with God plays more of a "somewhat important" role in my life.

-This is sad: I would consider my relationship with the Church to be very important on both a theoretical and an everyday level. The intellectual assent, the following the rules, the things I'm (relatively) good at - those are more a question of a relationship with the Church than a true relationship with God.

-I am a practicing Catholic, though obviously a severely lacking one.