The rise of religious schools

My CIS colleague Jennifer Buckingham has a new paper out today on the rise of religious schools, written up in the Fairfax broadsheets.

It’s full of useful statistics on enrolments over time and surveys the literature and arguments surrounding religious schools, many of which have also been discussed over the years at this blog (I was originally going to be a co-author of this one, but could never make the time).

It finds the evidence against religious schools on sectarianism, intolerance etc to be lacking. This is my reading of the Australian evidence too.

However, while private schools definitely out-perform non-selective government schools on academic performance even after controlling for family characteristics, we can’t yet confidently make such a claim on the religious/values questions that influence some parents in sending their kids to religious schools.

We are not even sure whether religious schools make their students more religious in the long term – the limited and dated evidence suggests not, after controlling for the fact that religious families are more likely to send their kids to religious schools. I am one of the many atheist products of Christian schooling (not that the school influenced this either way).

5 Responses to “The rise of religious schools

  • 1
    conrad
    September 16th, 2010 11:25

    It’s horribly reported in the smh here. If you read that article, Islam, fundementalist Christian schools, and plain old religious schools (whether Islamic or Christian) all manage to get confounded in the first few paragraphs.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton
    September 16th, 2010 12:55

    I thought the SMH report was ok – I did not find it confusing. The growth in ‘demonised’ minority religion schools was one of the noteworthy trends reported in the paper.

  • 3
    conrad
    September 16th, 2010 13:37

    oh — when I read it (and I haven’t read the main article), the second paragraph still sounds like it’s talking about Islamic/fundamentalist schools (para 1 and 3), and not your average run of the mill religious school (which generally have very little to do with religion, apart from their founding) — to me this distinction is not clear until quite far down the article, and then the article changes focus to giving statistics from these schools, and tells us nothing about the original focus (perhaps exclusive Brethen kids are very normal).

  • 4
    Andrew Norton
    September 16th, 2010 13:49

    The main paper describes Brethren and Islamic schools in more detail than other schools.

    In my experience even schools that are more than nominally religious aren’t too heavy – at mine there was a brief ceremony at the start of each day plus one period of bible study per week. Apart from that, what we did would not have been much different to what was going on in the local state school, albeit with stricter discipline.

  • 5
    Baz (da Ordinary Aussie)
    September 20th, 2010 08:21

    I went to a Christian school. Came out of it pretty good. Good marks, good values, good networks. No doubt they’re superior to public schools.
    But by mighty, I don’t like those muslim schools. Should be banned. Did you see the protests in Sydney about their ‘casper the ghost’ outfits. And then in Melbourne, they want to ban bikinis in the swimming pools. Unbelievable!
    Brewing…all I’m gonna say is it’s brewing. Maybe not now, maybe not next year…but she’s brewing all right.