Headquarters: Cardus Education Survey

Updates from Cardus on the renewal of social architecture.
Appears in Winter 2016 Issue: Cultural Jigs
December 1st, 2016

WINTER 2016 | Supporters of Christian independent schools have had a hunch that their schools do good work, but apart from anecdotes, there weren't any empirical studies to back up the claims. This is no longer the case thanks to the work of the Cardus Religious Schools Initiative (CRSI) and their Cardus Education Survey. And with the recent release of our 2016 findings on Canadian graduates, our education measurements continue to be the benchmark study of non-government religious school outcomes throughout Canada and the United States.

By isolating the school effect among the diverse range of Canadian graduates, our data helps us determine what role the school plays in shaping where one works, how much money they make, what level of education they attain after highschool, how politically and religiously engaged they are, and so much more. Our 2016 findings corroborated the story from our earlier reports: students from non-public schools are more likely to have stronger families with more children and fewer cases of divorce and separation; are more likely to get involved in community and cultural events and organizations; are more likely to be civically active through voting and protesting; and are more likely to give of their time and money through volunteering and donations.

What all of this suggests is that private education does not, as some stereotypes might have it, create a secluded, privileged class who are largely uninterested in the common good. Actually, quite the opposite seems to be the case for the majority of non-government run schools across Canada and the United States: private education is a public good.

The Cardus Education report is unlike many other school reports because it doesn't rely on a utilitarian view of education. Since it is our belief that education is, ultimately, about how well we are able to love our neighbour, our measurements of graduate outcomes are shaped accordingly. Therefore, graduates who exhibit attitudes of empathy and trust as well as habits of volunteering and giving, even if they are not, perhaps, earning as much, are still being well served by their schools and becoming the kind of public-facing Canadians that all schools in Canada hope to cultivate.

But to get this fuller picture of graduates, you'll have to read the report!


Beth Green is Program Director of Cardus Education and was previously part of the international research team that developed What If Learning in partnership with Transforming Lives UK/The Stapleford Centre, the Anglican Education Commission Sydney, and the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Doug Sikkema is a Senior Researcher for Cardus and the Managing Editor of Comment. Doug is also currently working toward a Ph.D. in American literature at the University of Waterloo.


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