They Need Real Hope, Not False Hope

Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Anthony B. Bradley, an assistant professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and an Acton Institute research fellow, writes in an editorial at that due to high high school drop out rates of young black men in America that they may need to attend faith schools.

Bradley makes this suggestion based on a report published by England's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. However, the report, "Independent Faith Schools," only looked at Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religious schools. In fact the Executive Summary states,
"The survey was conducted at the request of the Secretary of State to determine the fitness for purpose of the standard for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and the five regulations which independent faith schools, registered by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), must meet."
In other words this was only a survey meant to gauge the compliance of faith schools on government regulations. It was not written to compare faith and public schools nor does it imply such as Bradley implies. Bradley offers no real solutions of his own but does site positive results at a New York City charter school, not a faith school, but an all male charter school.

There is no question that more needs to be done to help disadvantaged and minority males succeed in both school and life. But, these youth need real hope, not false hope.

Faith schools could prove virtuous for black students

Anthony B. Bradley

Do at-risk black males need to be emancipated from America's public school complex? A new study released about high school dropout and incarceration rates among blacks raises the question.
Nearly 23 percent of all American black men ages 16-24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution, according to a new report from the Center for Labor Markets at Northeastern University.
High school dropouts cost the nation severely. Not only are American taxpayers getting no return on the $8,701 we spend on average per student, each dropout costs us $292,000 over their lifetime in lost earnings, lower taxes paid and higher spending for social programs like incarceration, health care and welfare.
Since public schools are forbidden to teach virtue and often reduce children to receptacles of information, expanding private and faith-based options to black parents is the most compelling solution.
The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, England's chief education inspection agency, recently released a report lauding the attributes of faith schools. The report, "Independent Faith Schools," examined the quality of formation provided by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religious schools. The inspectors found "pupils demonstrating an excellent understanding of spiritual and moral attributes."
In all the schools visited, "pupils gained a strong sense of identity and of belonging to their faith, their school and to Britain." In other words, faith-based schools, by simply teaching about religion, are forming their students to be virtuous citizens.
In Britain's faith schools, "good citizenship was considered by all the schools visited to be the duty of a good believer because this honored the faith," the report says. In contrast, American public schools have become prisoner factories for many at-risk black males.
Because producing educated, virtuous citizens is unrelated to funding, the problem cannot be addressed by simply increasing government spending for education.
Even in the public sector, blacks are realizing that the current model fails black males. Kentucky State University President Mary Sias says the university is trying to find funding to open a boarding school for black male youth to get them into college.
The Eagle Academy for Young Men, a charter school in the Bronx, is the first all-male public school in New York City in 30 years. Eagle Academy has a high school graduation rate of 82 percent, compared with 51.4 percent of black and 48.7 percent of Hispanic students graduating from high schools citywide. This may explain why Eagle had 1,200 applications for this year's ninth-grade class of 80 students.
Americans cannot afford, financially or morally, to trap black males in criminal cultivators masquerading as schools. Even though charter schools, vouchers and tax-credit programs reflect some progress, black parents need radical new options that empower them to choose the best schools.

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