Friday, May 31, 2013

Public, Charter, and Private Religious Schools: A Comparison

As a follow-up to my previous post comparing public school and homeschool students, here's another interesting study comparing schooling methods.  This time research involving public, charter, and religious private schools was compiled and studied, with interesting results.

The conclusion of the researcher conducting the meta-analysis?  "To the extent that neither traditional public schools nor charter schools are succeeding on a broad scale, it appears that the best hope for American education is religious private schools. Not only are they considerably more economically efficient, but their students also achieve better academic and behavioral results."

Again, this is a highly charged topic and a very personal decision that each family must make for itself. But it is interesting to me that home schools and private religious schools are consistently outperforming public schools in every measurable area--including "the big three" of academic performance, behavior, and socialization--while spending significantly less per student. 

Here's the article:

Today on Public Discourse, William Jeynes presents the results of his recent meta-analysis showing that students perform best academically and behaviorally when they attend religious private schools.

The Data Are In: Religious Private Schools Deserve a Second Look

by William Jeynes 
within Education

May 30th, 2013

A recent meta-analysis of 90 studies on religious private schools, traditional public schools, and charter schools shows that students perform best academically and behaviorally when they attend religious private schools.

An inquisitive elementary school student asked his teacher, "Is it wrong to steal?" The teacher replied, "I don't know. What do you think?" This incident in a major midwestern public school alarmed thousands of parents, and reminded myriad others why they value religious private schools: these schools are usually guided by a moral compass for academics and behavior that public schools patently do not offer.

I recently conducted a meta-analysis of more than ninety studies on education, and the results suggest that perhaps it is time for America's leadership and the general public to take a second look at religious private schools. At the risk of immodesty, let me be frank. The study is hugely important because it is the first published meta-analysis to compare the three primary types of American schools: religious private schools, traditional public schools, and charter schools.

A meta-analysis statistically combines all the relevant existing studies on a given subject in order to determine the aggregated results of the research. This meta-analysis yielded results that surprised many by indicating that students from public charter schools did no better than their peers in traditional public schools. In contrast, youth from religious private schools performed better academically than their counterparts in both public charter schools and traditional public schools, even when the results were adjusted to account for socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and various other factors.

These findings are especially noteworthy when one considers that over the last four or five years, the general public has been enamored by the presence of public charter schools, which has really obscured the consistent vital contributions of faith-based schools, particularly in the inner city.

Other social scientists, most notably James Coleman, made names for themselves by conducting analyses that demonstrated that pupils attending faith-based schools had a scholastic edge over those that did not. But the school climate has changed considerably since these scholars undertook those analyses. The most notable change, especially since the early 1990s, has been the rise of public charter schools.

Public charter schools became more popular in the early 1990s, concurrent with greater consideration of school choice programs that would include religious private schools. Since that time, the debate over which school model works best has become more complex, as educators and politicians have considered the possibility that schools should be allowed to compete more with each other so that they improve across the board.

Perhaps the most notable of these arguments was propounded in 1990 by John Chubb and Terry Moe in their work Politics, Markets, and America's Schools. They posed a rhetorical question: Why do educators and world leaders admit, almost universally, that the United States has the best system of university education in the world but only a mediocre system of public elementary and secondary schools?

American universities dominate world rankings of universities that have been regularly disseminated out of China, Great Britain, and Germany over the last twenty years. Most of us recognize, for example, that to be able to say one is a graduate of Harvard is almost equivalent to saying that one attended the best university in the world. The only real competition that Harvard, Princeton, and Yale receive for the top slots has generally come from Cambridge and Oxford in England. Equally convincing is the fact that universities such as Columbia, Chicago, MIT, Stanford, Duke, and Dartmouth are usually among the world's top 6 to 15 universities.

Chubb and Moe argue that American public schools, by contrast, lack good reputations because elementary and secondary schools compete so little with each other. They insist that private schools should be allowed to compete with public schools. Nevertheless, although Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton endorsed the idea of competition, they focused nearly all their education reform efforts on establishing and expanding charter schools.

Chubb and Moe warned that these steps alone couldn't yield the competition level necessary to improve American education.

They argued that private schools need to be included in any choice initiative because, for example, half of America's National Merit Scholarship winners attend private schools. They averred that including private schools would not only enable myriad American students to attend some of the nation's finest schools, but would force public schools to improve, after their fall to a complacent state resulting from their decades-old near-monopoly on education. In spite of these warnings, federal and state governments pumped about 2 percent of the education budgets to charter schools.

Today when politicians and educators refer to school choice, they almost always refer to choice in the public arena. Five years ago such a scenario seemed very unlikely, because in his State of the Union address President George W. Bush called for a White House Education Summit that would gather a number of leading education academics in the country to reinvigorate the nation's policies on non-public education. Bush himself was the keynote speaker, which suggested how important he believed the gathering to be. But despite his determination to incorporate the summit's recommendations, when he left office the nation all but totally rejected his new emphasis.

With this scenario in mind, the results of the meta-analysis are all the more intriguing. The meta-analysis included ninety studies. The results indicate that attending private religious schools is associated with the highest level of academic achievement among the three school types, even when sophisticated controls are used to adjust for a variety of factors, including socioeconomic status, race, gender, and selectivity.

Examining results from all ninety studies, I found that the average academic outcome for religious school students was .28 of a standard deviation unit higher than for traditional public school (TPS) students, while the average for charter school students was only .01 of a standard deviation unit higher. If one converts these numbers to percentiles, the average academic outcome was 11 percentage points higher than that of TPS pupils, while charter school attendees scored about the same as their TPS counterparts.

Translated into more tangible numbers, students who attend private religious schools attain educational levels that average about twelve months ahead of those attending regular public schools. Even when the meta-analysis employed sophisticated controls, which included measures for socioeconomic status, selectivity, gender, and race, youth who attended faith-based schools achieved at levels seven months ahead of both TPS and public charter school students.

One of the most intriguing results of the study is that the racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps are roughly 25 percent narrower in religious private schools than in public schools. This finding is particularly interesting when one considers that over the years the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bridge the gaps, with only limited success. Higher expectations for students, and school leaders' insistence that pupils take demanding courses, could help to explain these circumstances in faith-based schools.

The meta-analysis focused primarily on scholastic performance, but it also examined student behavior. The results indicated that youth from faith-based schools maintained even a larger edge in behavior than they did in school academics. That is, pupils from religious private schools exhibited fewer behavioral problems, even when socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and gender were also controlled for. This translates into fewer gangs, lower levels of drug abuse, and greater racial harmony than one typically finds in public schools.

Many people, even this researcher, expected public charter school students to perform somewhere in between the levels achieved by students attending faith-based schools and those attending traditional public schools, given that they were trying to mimic certain aspects of private religious schools.

To the extent that neither traditional public schools nor charter schools are succeeding on a broad scale, it appears that the best hope for American education is religious private schools. Not only are they considerably more economically efficient, but their students also achieve better academic and behavioral results.

The nation should therefore rethink its strategy of espousing charter schools and overlooking the benefits of faith-based education. It may be time to extend school choice to include the private sector. Because religious schools are so much more efficient than public schools, states would save money by implementing programs that pay for children to attend these schools instead of more expensive public ones. The meta-analysis calls into question the current trajectory of school choice that emphasizes only public school choice, without due diligence in pursuing the inclusion of private religious schools.

William Jeynes is Professor of Education at California State University, Long Beach.

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Copyright 2013 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cleaning Between the Lines (or, Grout Management)

I found--and re-posted--the following claim on Facebook (from a total stranger!) regarding the cleaning of dirty grout.  I decided I wanted to give it a try today, and I inadvertently came here, to this blog, to look for the formula.  (It seems strange to call a formula for a cleaning product a "recipe"!)

This blog tends to wear a lot of different hats for me, and this is one of them: a place to share something useful and store it for future reference.  I have no idea if this grout-cleaning formula actually works, but I'm going to give it a try.  I'll let you know how it goes in the comments. 

Here's Lynn Cole's "Spring Cleaning Recipe for the Grout":
7 C. water
1/2 C. baking soda
1/3 C. lemon juice
1/4 C. vinegar

She says to "throw in a spray bottle and spray your floor, let it sit for a minute or two...then scrub."

Hmmmm. Could it really be that easy?!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Interesting Infographic Comparing Public School and Home School

Interesting graphic. We are so happy and pleased to be able to homeschool our children, as it enables each of them to proceed at exactly the pace he or she can handle, whether that is very accelerated or involves progressing toward competence at a slower rate.  They can pursue interests and courses of study that are particularly suited to them.

I have many dear friends whose children are homeschooled, and many others who are in private, parchial, or public schools.  It is such a personal decision that we all have to make for ourselves, before God.  May we each choose wisely and well, in accordance with the needs of our families and children--and then may we be gracious with one another in our respective choices, honoring and respecting the decisions we each come to.

Homeschool Domination
Created by:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Handy Reference to Editorial Punctuation Rules

Oh, heavens; if that's not the most boring title in the world, I don't know what is!

However, I found this compilation of editorial rules--taken from the Chicago Manual of Style--very useful.  I'm posting it here for future reference.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cleft Palate Breastfeeding

This video was made by a personal friend of mine to help women whose babies are born with a cleft palate learn how to breastfeed successfully. She was able to exclusively nurse her son Jacob, who was born with a completely cleft soft palate that extended into the hard palate. She has asked that we help spread the word and post this link anywhere that women who need this information might find it.

Please be encouraged that the video is very discreet and is never unnecessarily revealing, but also be warned that there is some video footage of Jacob nursing using the techniques she employed for successful breastfeeding. There is also frank discussion of—and (clothed) demonstration of—these techniques, which is extremely valuable to the mother of a cleft palate baby who is seeking to successfully breastfeed. If this sort of candor is offensive to you, please do not watch this video.

Kudos to my sweet friend for her determination and tenacity in nursing Jacob successfully despite the difficulties it entailed—and in making this video so that other cleft palate babies (and their mothers!) can enjoy the many advantages of breastfeeding. You can do it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sabbath Rest

Sometimes (many times!) somebody else says it better than I ever could!  From Lysa TerKeurst in today's daily devotional reading from Proverbs 31 ministries:

Proverbs 31 Ministries
Lysa TerKeurst
May 16, 2013
Space to Exhale
Lysa TerKeurst
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord." Isaiah 58:13-14a (NIV)
That sounds so good, but it's really difficult for a girl like me. Even when my physical body is at rest, my mind rarely is.
I feel like I'm always juggling balls in my brain. Kids' needs. Home demands. Work projects. The to-do lists never stop.
Yet the Bible makes it very clear that we are to honor the Sabbath day and pursue rest. Literally we are to hit the pause button on life once a week and guard our need to rest. Guard it fiercely. Guard it intentionally. Guard it even if our schedules beg us to do otherwise.
But why?
There are honest, personal reasons we need to observe the Sabbath that will be unique for each person. There are private conversations we need to have with God. We all need to pause, to sit with God, and ask Him to reveal some things to us.
And when I consider our key verse Isaiah 58:13-14a, something occurs to me—it's not just a day for me to give to God. It's a day God established for me. He wants to give me something if only I'll slow down enough to receive it.
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD."
The Sabbath isn't merely a time to be observed; it's a time to be preserved. It's a time to rediscover our joy in the Lord.
I need this. I want to be a preserver of this day—one who is determined to protect this day of personal preservation and rediscover the delight of God.
The observer remembers to rest.
The preserver rests to remember—to remember that it's all about God.
The observer remembers to rest and pause on the Sabbath day in order to follow a rule.
The preserver does more than follow a rule. She follows God's desire and embraces His purpose in the rest. She spends one day a week letting the fresh wind of God's rest blow through her, cleaning out all she's been taking in during the week with a purifying soul exhale.
It's all about pausing and connecting with God without the distracting chaos of our everyday routines. For one day a week, we step out of the fray and let God direct our day according to His rhythm, not ours.
God's rhythm preserves a space in us to hear His voice, reveals the places we're off track, and prevents us from being filled with unnecessary clutter. Quiet rest allows us to see the places where we're going our own way, the areas where we're more self-pleasing than God-pleasing, the idle words that need to be reined in. During the down time, we can deal with the mental clutter and focus on the ways of God.
The Sabbath makes this possible.
Taking one day for rest gives my soul the freedom it so desperately needs. Freedom to breathe. Space to breathe. Inhaling and exhaling in a gentle rhythm set by God.
Dear Lord, space to breathe, this is what I need today. Thank You for showing me how important it is to create a place for freedom and rest. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Related Resources:
For more encouragement and practical advice on creating a place to exhale in the midst of raw emotions check out Lysa TerKeurst's book Unglued.
The accompanying Unglued Bible study will help you understand what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!
Reflect and Respond:
Take a moment to think about your own practices for rest and reflection on the Sabbath.
What can you do to hit "pause" and spend some time with the Lord this week? It could be taking a break from your to-do list, committing to spend some time journaling, etc.
Power Verses:
Hebrews 4:9-10, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his." (NIV)
Psalm 62:1, "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him." (NIV)

Copyright © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries, All rights reserved. 

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good Stock

My daughter OG tracked down these old pictures of each of her grandfathers, sized them, printed them, and put them inside old-fashioned, "Downton Abbey-style" frames for her sister EV's birthday.

Have you ever seen anything so adorable?!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Different Kind of Joy on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is often a very pensive day for me.  Besides the usual dwelling on how grateful I am for a family who loves me in spite of my many, many failings and flaws... and how thankful I am that it is easy to love them in spite of theirs...

I am also very aware that there are many who--though they love and appreciate their own mothers on this day--also become painfully and acutely aware on this day of the fact that they themselves are not mothers.  Some are alone and lonely, wanting desperately to be wives and mothers, but not having yet walked down that path.  Some are walking through the aching pain of infertility, desperately aware of their empty wombs and their hearts that have motherly love to give, without object.  I know that today is sometimes hard for these sweet friends.

I'm also aware of a set of dear friends for whom Mother's Day holds a very special and different meaning. These are my friends who have opened their hearts and homes to a new child through adoption.  Some of these dear women had birth children of their own before they adopted, and some did not.  Either way, they found room in their lives to love another as their own.  These children are so much theirs, that the fact that they're adopted has long ago ceased to be something anyone even remembers!

These women--these families--inspire me and challenge me and sometimes even convict  me.  I admire them, and I appreciate them, and I love them.  Aren't they beautiful?!



How Very "Downton Abbey"

Today, I dined in style for Mother's Day!  I was awakened by the sound of my sweet husband and eldest daughter EV carrying in a tray of delicious loveliness this morning.

"We don't have one of those cool Downton Abbey leg trays..." iivo lamented.  Oh, I do feel so very served-in-style nonetheless!  Here's all that's left of my whole wheat buttermilk scone topped with mock Devonshire cream and a fresh strawberry.  Yum!

Thank you, thank you, my sweet ones, who make motherhood so rich and wonderful!  It is a privilege and a joy to share life with you for this brief, beautiful season, and it is an honor to be your mom.

And, a few minutes later, my youngest wandered in with a gift bag and a shy face.

Me: "Oh, honey, these are great!  Where did you get them?"

EL: "I made them."

"You made them?!  Where did you get the idea?"

"On the Internet. That's what was on the counter that day..."  (I had come in to find salt all over the clean kitchen counter. She must have recovered well, because I had no idea!). "It's just Epsom salt, sea salt, lavender oil, and coconut oil."

"We don't have any lavender oil, do we?"

"EV did!"

Oh, such sweet thoughtfulness.  I can't wait for my first aromatherapy bath!

Happy Mother's Day to me!