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Catholic Schools and the Common Good [Paperback]

by Anthony S. Bryk, Valerie E. Lee, Peter B. Holland
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 14, 1995 0674103114 978-0674103115 Reissue
The authors examine a broad range of Catholic high schools to determine whether or not students are better educated in these schools than they are in public schools. They find that the Catholic schools do have an independent effect on achievement, especially in reducing disparities between disadvantaged and privileged students. The Catholic school of today, they show, is informed by a vision, similar to that of John Dewey, of the school as a community committed to democratic education and the common good of all students.

Frequently Bought Together

Catholic Schools and the Common Good + Parish School: American Catholic Parochial Education From Colonial Times to the Present + The Holy See's Teaching on Catholic Schools
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Editorial Reviews


A superb study that enhances our understanding not only of Catholic schools but of schools generally. (James E. Rosenbaum Contemporary Sociology)

A richly detailed, and documented study...Besides being the best group portrait of today's U.S. Catholic high schools, this is also a formidable testimonial to the virtues and accomplishments of those schools. (John W. Donohue America)

Like the schools they write about, the authors of this important book combine scholarship with a mission. The scholarship in this book is a rare blend of case study, number crunching and rumination in social and intellectual history. (Joseph P. McDonald New York Times Book Review)

The central argument of this clearly written, superbly researched effort is that [American] public high schools need to mimic their Catholic counterparts. Catholic high schools, according to the authors, 'manage simultaneously to achieve relatively high levels of student learning, distribute this learning more equitably with regard to race and class than in the public sector, and sustain high levels of teachers commitment and student engagement.' (John T. McGreevy Commonweal)

This comprehensive analysis of the effects of Catholic schools, especially on low-income children, concluded that 'Catholic schools function as a public resource.' Catholic schools are able to accomplish this essential task in all communities because, among many important factors, they introduce a spiritual dimension to the student's education. (Mike McCormick Dayton News)

[An] exemplary book...Catholic Schools and the Common Good provides intensive analysis of the distinctive character of Catholic schools...After reading the book, one is not only convinced that Catholic schools have advantages for academic achievement--especially for low-income and minority youth--but one understands the mechanisms through which these advantages accrue. (Adam Gamoran Teachers College Record)

About the Author

Anthony S. Bryk is Professor of Education at the University of Chicago.

Valerie E. Lee is Associate Professor of Education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Peter B. Holland is Superintendent of the Belmont school system, Belmont, Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reissue edition (April 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674103114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674103115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the success of Catholic schools December 28, 2000
Reading this book convinced me to go to work in Catholic education. Before you even get to the long statistical analysis of student performance in Catholic schools, the book includes a nice history of Catholic schools in the United States, which, as a Catholic school parent but never a student, I found fascinating and, in a way, evangelizing for me.
The statistical analysis gives proof to the claims of solid performance of Catholic school students, and it gives lie to criticisms that Catholic schools shortchange minority and disadvantaged students--those students tend to perform better in Catholic schools than in other schools, the study finds.
Among the reasons for the success of Catholic schools, the book suggests the following: expectations of student success, individual attention, and a supportive environment and community that is created by students, staff, and parents.
For supporters or critics of Catholic schools, this is an important book.
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