Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226122007 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226122144 Published April 2014

Lost Classroom, Lost Community

Catholic Schools' Importance in Urban America

Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett

Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett

224 pages | 5 halftones, 6 line drawings, 14 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226122007 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226122144 Published April 2014
In the past two decades in the United States, more than 1,600 Catholic elementary and secondary schools have closed, and more than 4,500 charter schools—public schools that are often privately operated and freed from certain regulations—have opened, many in urban areas. With a particular emphasis on Catholic school closures, Lost Classroom, Lost Community examines the implications of these dramatic shifts in the urban educational landscape. 

More than just educational institutions, Catholic schools promote the development of social capital—the social networks and mutual trust that form the foundation of safe and cohesive communities. Drawing on data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and crime reports collected at the police beat or census tract level in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett demonstrate that the loss of Catholic schools triggers disorder, crime, and an overall decline in community cohesiveness, and suggest that new charter schools fail to fill the gaps left behind.

This book shows that the closing of Catholic schools harms the very communities they were created to bring together and serve, and it will have vital implications for both education and policing policy debates.
Anthony S. Bryk, president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching | coauthor of "Catholic Schools and the Common Good"
“Brinig and Garnett bring a unique perspective to the Catholic school effect literature: that these are not only effective educational institutions but also important community institutions. Their findings bolster arguments about the important societal benefits that Catholic schools provide in educating disadvantaged children and strengthening the communities in which they live.”
Michael Heise | Cornell Law School
“As the nation continues to struggle with its promise for quality education, Brinig and Garnett offer a thorough, thoughtful, and critical analysis of another emerging problem: Catholic school closures. This problem is particularly acute for urban America given Catholic schools’ often heroic role in supplying quality, cost-effective educational alternatives in many cities. As well, Catholic schools’ contribution of human and social capital is difficult to overestimate. In this evenhanded examination, the authors helpfully lever qualitative and quantitative methods and adopt an institutional framework to make a compelling case for critical policy problems that should concern students, families, and cities. This book is a must-read for parents, policy makers, and scholars.”
Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government | author of "Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning"
“For generations, Catholic schools have created social capital in dense, urban environments, protecting communities from crime, decay, and decline—even while giving families an educational alternative. Quietly but surely, Brinig and Garnett’s study of the impact of Catholic schools in Chicago makes a strong case for preserving religious-based education in our urban areas. If school vouchers became generally available, they would provide these valuable religious schools with the financial backing necessary to place them on an even playing field with the new, secular charter schools that are regularly occupying vacated Catholic school buildings. Lost Classroom, Lost Community is a solid, scholarly contribution to the school choice conversation.”
Christopher Witko | University of South Carolina
“It has been argued for decades that Catholic schools are somewhat unique in their ability to create community and social capital. What is new in Lost Classroom, Lost Community is a clear link between theoretical arguments about this relationship and a policy program intended to preserve Catholic schools that is put into terms a more general audience may understand. While school choice is usually advocated from a markets perspective, Brinig and Garnett argue that school choice should be less geared toward competition (which Catholic schools are, after all, losing) and more geared toward creating social capital. To me, this is the most interesting aspect of their book.”
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