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New book: higher neighborhood crime follows closing of urban Catholic schools

June 18, 2014

In Lost Classroom, Lost Community, a new book that has attracted broad praise, Margaret Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett examined crime reports and found that “the loss of Catholic schools triggers disorder, crime, and an overall decline in community cohesiveness” in urban areas.

The University of Notre Dame professors also found that “the factor that most predicted that a school would close-- more so than income or race-- was whether there was something ‘irregular’ about the parish leadership … Schools affiliated with these troubled parishes….were ten times more likely to close [than] healthy parishes led by pastors in regular rotation.”


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  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Jun. 19, 2014 6:59 PM ET USA

    The "social capital" which the NCR book review speaks about is nothing less than the fruitful results of faith induced education which are wide spread. The very presence of the pastor and religious educators are an example of the Christian virtue of sacrifice and the life generating works which spring from it for the benefit of others. That Christ showed on the cross "I have comne not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many" we have all indeed benefited from.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 18, 2014 12:28 PM ET USA

    Conservative Catholic educators have long known that schools provide a spiritual center to the neighborhood. If the school is deeply religious, and supported by the families, this spirit invades the neighborhood. The Council of Baltimore knew this. Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" also demonstrates the profound connect between the life of religion and the stability of the poor in the inner city. As the Church has moved away from education into social work, the poor have been hardest hit.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 18, 2014 11:38 AM ET USA

    Conversely, an inner-city school promotes unity and parish attendance. Businesses begin to support the area and there is more of a sense of pride that pervades the area, as well. In one of the three inner-city schools I taught at, the problem was the school's leadership (a dictatorial diocesan education department and a weak pastor) and eventually the school closed in two years.