THE IMPACT OF NON-CATHOLIC STUDENTS IN THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS OF A LARGE EASTERN DIOCESE
The purpose of this study is to investigate change, planned or unplanned, which has occurred in Catholic schools because of non-Catholic students in attendance. Respondents include school staff, Catholic parents and non-Catholic parents in selected urban and suburban Catholic schools. A new instrument, the Catholic School Participants' Scale, was devised to suit the purposes of the study.^ Major findings are: (1) Catholic parents and non-Catholic parents patronize Catholic schools for basically the same reasons; the academic program and teaching of moral and spiritual values are ranked first and second, respectively, as primary reasons for parents selecting Catholic schools. Unexpectedly, student safety is ranked as the least important reason by both parent groups. (2) Dissatisfaction is expressed with the quality of education in public schools by both parent groups. (3) No major changes have occurred in school religion programs, prayer services, or sacramental programs because of non-Catholic children in attendance; furthermore, the majority of respondents indicate they do not wish to see future change occur. (4) Social studies curricula, parental involvement, tuition fees, and discipline remain unchanged despite the presence of non-Catholic children.^ Results show that parents and staff share attitudes of care, concern, and respect (solicitude) which are part of the affective atmosphere of Catholic schools. Respondents express satisfaction with the academic program in Catholic schools but share a common concern about a feeling of exclusion evidenced by non-Catholic children when Catholic students are being prepared for the sacraments of Holy Eucharist, Penance, and Confirmation.^ Results of the study imply that, although Catholic schools should keep doing what they do so well, planned change will enable them to maintain the integrity of their religiously oriented educational program and still educate non-Catholic children. Since this is the first study which concentrates on non-Catholic children in Catholic schools, additional research is recommended on Catholic school enrollment trends, academic achievements, and attitudes of school staff and pastors. Future studies should include schools of religious denominations other than Catholic to determine whether change has occurred because of students of various religious backgrounds in attendance.^
CATHERINE TIGHE HICKEY,
"THE IMPACT OF NON-CATHOLIC STUDENTS IN THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS OF A LARGE EASTERN DIOCESE"
(January 1, 1983).
ETD Collection for Fordham University.