Catholic schools provide unparalleled academic and life outcomes for students—especially for students in urban neighborhoods. A recent research study conducted by two Notre Dame Law Professors indicates that this “Catholic school effect” also benefits the “security and stability of the entire urban community with a Catholic school in its midst.”
Researchers Brinig and Garnett studied the impact of Catholic school closures on neighborhoods in Chicago, IL and discovered that when Catholic schools closed, crime and disorder increased and social cohesion decreased. They summarize the following key data from their book:
- Catholic school closures in Chicago between 1984 and 1994 predicted substantial between-neighborhood variance in the levels of social cohesion and disorder in 1995. Using data obtained from a survey conducted by the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods in 1995, the authors show that residents of neighborhoods where Catholic schools closed had less cohesive and more disorderly communities than residents of neighborhoods with open Catholic schools.
- While serious crime declined across the city of Chicago between 1999-2005, it declined more slowly in police beats where Catholic schools closed. In contrast to the city-wide average of a 25 percent decline, serious crime fell by only 17 percent in police beats experiencing a school closure.
- Between 1999 and 2005, the presence of an open Catholic school in a police beat was consistently associated with a statistically significant decrease in crime. Although the percentage difference varied by year, the crime rate in police beats with Catholic schools was, on average, at least 33 percent lower than in police beats without them.