Toward a Healthy Society
 
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Cardus Education Survey: Phase II Report (2012)

How do Canadians students rate their education? How do they fare—years later, decades later—in their cultural and civic lives? The Cardus Education Survey 2012 report examines graduate outcomes of both government (public) and non-government schools, comparing them to each other and to the stated aims of every provincial education ministry. Data collected by Angus Reid's Vision Critical polling.

Executive Summary

Diversity in Educational Delivery has been a hallmark of Canadian education since Confederation. Section 93 of the 1867 British North America Act protected the provision of different educational delivery models for different religious perspectives, although the diverse provincial application of this principle resulted in very different working models across the country. This study examines survey data from a representative sample of graduates of Canadian secondary schools aged 24-39. Collected in March 2012, the resulting data were intended  to enable better understanding of the outcomes of the various government and non-government schooling sectors. The data reported regard graduates from schools in all provinces except for Quebec, which is dealt with separately in the report.

Using the standards for educational outcomes grounded  in  provincial   statutes,  regulation,  and policy, we conclude that various non-government schooling sectors—Separate Catholic, Independent Catholic, Independent Non-religious, Evangelical Christian, and religious home education—produce graduates who embody commonly desired excellences and characteristics     in generally even higher proportions than do government-run public schools. These conclusions suggest that non-government schools are important contributors to education delivery in Canada and that they can be regarded to contribute to the public good.

Various themes emerged from findings with respect to graduates of  non-government  schools, even when the results are controlled for family socioeconomic and religious background, and in many cases point to statistically significant effects of the schools they attended.

Canada’s government schools perform very well in international rankings, but by many measures, Canada’s non-government schools perform at even higher levels.

Since 2000 the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results for Canadian government-school students have ranked among the top in the world. Consider, then, these additional successes in non-government schools:

  • Stronger families: Graduates of non-government schools are less likely to be divorced or separated. Evangelical Protestant school graduates and religious home school graduates are more likely to have more children.
  • More engaged: Graduates of non-government schools participate in more neighbourhood and community groups as well as in arts and culture initiatives. Graduates of independent non-religious schools, especially,  vote more, volunteer more, and participate in a wider variety of organizations. Non-government graduates are notably more committed to smaller, grassroots movements than they are to larger, more mainstream institutions in, for example, politics and the environment.
  • More generous: Graduates of non-government schools volunteer more than their public school counterparts, for a variety of causes. Evangelical protestant school graduates, for example, focus more on volunteer opportunities involving faith, family, and neighbour.
  • More focused on neighbour: Evangelical Protestant school graduates, in particular, are seeking to contribute to the common good in a culture which makes them feel unwelcome. Although showing comparatively high results in measures relating to life satisfaction, graduates of evangelical Protestant schools and of religious home education report that the dominant culture is hostile to their beliefs and values. Nonetheless, they continue to be engaged with the culture and contribute to it.
  • Express their identity through their work: Graduates of independent non-religious schools are more likely to hold higher-status employment positions and they have a wide variety of fulfillment expectations of their job such as for being helpful, creative, worthwhile, and relational. Graduates of  Evangelical   Protestant schools and of religious homeschooling have a strong sense of vocational calling, seek jobs that fulfill that calling and pay well, but are less rooted occupationally than their non-religious school counterparts.
  • Educating for employment rather than influence: The post-secondary education results are bi-modal. For example, the evangelical Protestant school graduate seems more likely to attain only a secondary school or college diploma or, alternatively, to attain a master degree, and the religious home education graduate to attain a secondary school or a college diploma or alternatively to attain a PhD. This suggests that if students in these two sectors do decide to go to university they pursue education vigorously.  It is quite possible that they are concerned about the utility of their degree and only leave when they have attained sufficient employment credentialing. The independent non-religious graduate gives solid evidence of attaining at least a university degree, but also of being more likely to attain the highest levels of degrees as well.
  • Non-government schools are, in the perspective of their graduates, a “good brand.” In general, even with fifteen or so years of hindsight, graduates of non-government schools evaluate their school cultures positively, claiming them to be close-knit and expressing a positive regard for teachers, students, and administrators, and reflect that they offered good preparation for post-secondary education as well as for later life. If we would  view the graduates as “clients” of non-government schools, the results of the customer satisfaction survey could only be viewed as encouraging to those who are responsible for this sector.
  • Separate Catholic Schools, for almost every measure including religious, produce similar results to graduates of public schools. Whereas evangelical Protestant schools and religious home education graduates reflect attributes of religious conviction, spiritual formation, and practices that one would expect of those who are religiously motivated (with schooling effects having contributed positively to those results), graduates of separate Catholic schools appear almost identical to those of public schools in every measure.
  • Independent non-religious schools may provide “best practice” models for producing civically engaged graduates. Although all of the non-government schooling models match or exceed the government school graduates in the various measures of civic engagement, many of which are included in the provincially defined purposes of education, the independent non-religious schools stand out in several of these measures and may provide opportunity for best-practice learning.

In short, graduates of evangelical Protestant schools not only show more commitment to and involvement in religious rituals and activities compared with their government school counterparts with similar religious and socioeconomic backgrounds, but, despite having been educated among peers from similar religious backgrounds,  are likely to be just as involved in civic affairs as all public school graduates, with the exception of protests. They also tend to marry earlier and have more children. Graduates of independent non-religious schools, perhaps not surprisingly because of the population they represent, are disproportionally represented among managerial and professional careers, and are exceptionally active in civic and political initiatives. Graduates of Separate Catholic schools tend much closer to the government school mean on most measures, although there are a few notable differences between fully government-funded separate Catholic school graduates and the independent Catholic school graduates, with the latter, for instance, participating much less in political activity. Graduates of religious home schooling tend to be furthest from the mean on many measures, ranging from being divorced or separated (much less) to donating to religious causes as well as boycotting products for ethical reasons (much more).

Overall, graduates of non-government schools are at least as likely to be involved in society and culture working toward “the common good” as their public school counterparts. In other words, this study shows that the claim that religious and other independent schools do not prepare their students to contribute positively to Canada’s multicultural society is unfounded.

Background and Context

The Canadian Constitution is intended to protect educational minorities, particularly in view of the religious preferences of diverse parents and communities. This study seeks to examine the impacts of diverse non-government educational systems, and especially religiously based ones, through the lens of graduate outcomes. What are the similarities and differences between graduates of non-government schools and graduates of government schools? In what ways does religious schooling make a difference in the lives of its graduates, and thus make a difference in society?

The Cardus Education Survey was launched because of the need for a comparative survey of a representative sampling of graduates from a variety of government and non-government schooling systems. This second study in the series focuses on  Canadian data,  following on the 2011 examination of private schooling outcomes in the United States (available at www.carduseducationsurvey.com).

If the effects of schooling outside the secular public system can be better understood, more informed discussion can take place regarding the place and contribution of these school sectors in the lives of their students, their families, their graduates, and in society as a whole. This research will be of particular interest to parents who have chosen or are considering alternatives to government school systems for the education of their children, as well as to those tasked with designing and maintaining such non-government schools, whether religiously defined or not. It will also be of interest to the public at large and particularly to policy-makers considering how government, as well as non-government education systems, might be improved.

Purpose of Education

Perhaps the place to start involves the state’s interest in schooling.  Education in  Canada is a  matter of provincial rather than federal jurisdiction. Yet it is remarkable that while great variation exists between the provinces, the “purpose of education” language in the various statutes, regulations, and policy documents shares a similar core set of objectives. A survey of these documents will be detailed below, but the objectives for public education in Canada might be summarized in a general sense as follows:

Across Canada, public education aims to prepare students to:

  • be valuable participants in and contributors to the economy;
  • be informed citizens who value democratic participation and civic engagement;
  • be confident, responsible, self-sufficient adults; be honest, fair, and ethical members of society;
  • contribute to a peaceful, pluralistic, and cohesive society;
  • live personally fulfilled and healthy lives; and 
  • value further education and life-long learning.

The first section of the  Education   Act of   Ontario,  for example, offers the following: “The purpose of education is to provide students with the opportunity to realize their potential and develop into highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizens who contribute to their society” (RSO 1990, Chapter  E2,  s.0.1).   The emphasis is on becoming an informed, contributing citizen.

Similarly, the School Act of British Columbia  begins  with the following preamble, in which education is geared to achieving both personal and public goals: 

Whereas it is the goal of a democratic society to ensure that all its members receive an education that enables them to become literate, personally fulfilled and publicly useful, thereby increasing the strength and contributions to the health and stability of that society; AND WHEREAS the purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable all learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy . . . (RSBC 1996, c. 412). 

A final example is from the Alberta Guide to Education: ECS to Grade 12, 2012-2013. The Alberta Education mission is that “all students are inspired to achieve success and fulfillment as engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit” (Alberta Education, 2012). The specific student learning outcomes (as rearticulated in this guide to education and first given by ministerial order in 1998) include developing:

  • knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will prepare them for life after high school; 
  • understanding of the scientific method, the nature of science and technology, and their application to daily life; 
  • understanding of Canada’s political, social, and economic systems within a global context; 
  • respect for the cultural diversity and common values of Canada;
  • desirable personal characteristics such as respect, responsibility, fairness, honesty, caring, loyalty, and commitment to democratic ideal; 
  • competence in using information technologies; and 
  • initiative, leadership, flexibility, and persistence

Alberta takes care to achieve such a long list of specified outcomes in order to “provide consistent direction for education in the province while encouraging flexibility and discretion at the local level” (Alberta Education, 2012). As explained later, Alberta offers one of the most diverse educational delivery systems in the country while still encouraging all providers to be accountable to the centrally articulated objectives. 

The objectives above are the stated goals of government education systems. What of the objectives of non-government systems? This paper addresses the issue of whether and in what ways the graduates of Canadian non-state schooling also achieve these common personal and public objectives for education. It also examines the school effects in achieving, or neglecting, these outcomes.

Contributing to the Public Good

Common to the varying models of education is the belief that education is foundational for human flourishing, and the belief that education is intended to serve not only individual interest, but the common good of society. 

Provincial education laws and policies present a vision of the common good that values not only economic prosperity, but also healthy citizens, democratic participation, pluralism, tolerance, and cohesion. Are religiously defined approaches to elementary and secondary education motivated by a similar vision of the common good? Consider the words of some significant figures in religious history. 

Aquinas already in the 13th century A.D. claimed that “all who are contained in any community are related to it as parts to a whole. The part is what it is in virtue of the whole; therefore every good of the part is directed towards the good of the whole. . . . Since every man is part of a state, it is impossible for any man to be good unless he is well adapted to the common good” (quoted in Peter N. Miller, Defining the Common Good, 2004). 

John Calvin in the 16th century founded numerous universal schools because he held that “It is an error to think that those who flee worldly affairs and engage in contemplation are leading an angelic life. . . . We know that men were created to busy themselves with labor and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when each one attends to his calling and studies well to live for the common good” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Luke 10:38). 

Early church literature and later Catholic doctrine offer rather similar, and more detailed, perspective on contributions to the common good. A second century reference to the common good is recorded in the Epistle of Barnabas (4:10): “Do not live entirely isolated, having retreated into yourselves, as if you were already justified, but gather instead to seek the common good together.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed., 2003) defines common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (No. 1906). “These social conditions include respect for the flourishing of the individual human person, emphasis on the social well-being and development of the entire society, and peace, stability and security” (No. 1907-1909). The Catechism then goes on to define participation as “the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange” and claims that “it is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person” (No. 1913). One participates in promoting the common good in two general ways, “by taking charge of the areas for which one assumes personal responsibility: by the care taken for the education of [one’s] family, by conscientious work, and so forth” (No. 1914) and by taking “active part in public life” (No. 1915, emphasis original).

Similarly the 20th century philosopher  Philip  Phenix, in his book Education and the Common  Good,  argues that education for the common good must foster not only intellectual excellence, but should also contribute to society by promoting responsible engagement in work and economic life, recreation, aesthetic activities, sex and family life, politics and world responsibility, stewardship of nature—as well as make known the contributions that religion, morality, and reverence have made to culture (Phenix, Education and the Common Good, 1961).

Thus the common good of peace, stability, security, and flourishing appears in great part to rely on the voluntary and generous communal engagement of individuals. In what ways, then, do the various school sectors, both government and non-government, contribute to this public engagement?

As the next sections demonstrate, various forms of religious schooling in Canada are not designed, delivered,   or funded by governments. Yet, given the definitions above of what it is to contribute to the common, or public, good, it is the intention of this paper to   ex-  amine whether and in what ways graduates of such non-government schools do indeed contribute to the public good.

Development of Public Schooling in Canada

It is impossible to describe a “Canadian” system of education. The British North America Act (1867) that established the Confederation of Canada made education the responsibility of provincial governments. The four provinces that constituted the new Confederation in 1867 (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) retained the legal and policy frameworks that had governed their schools in the colonial period. As new provinces entered Confederation (Manitoba in 1870;  British  Columbia in 1871; Prince Edward Island in 1873; Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905; and Newfoundland in 1949), they were given authority as provinces to pass statutes and regulations to govern their provincial school systems. This resulted in distinct education systems in Canada, “each with its own body of law and regulations, its own peculiar nomenclature, and its own administrative arrangements” (Gidney and  Millar, 2012, p. 3). Though the  Canadian constitution gives the federal Parliament the authority to govern the three territories (Yukon, Northwest, and  Nunavut), they too have been given control over their education systems over the years.

For this study, the most important issue with regard to the constitutional limits on provincial authority over education is the rights enshrined for denominational schooling. Now called the Constitution Act, Section 93 guarantees that the rights related to denominational schooling that were in effect at the time the province entered Confederation would remain in effect. This means that in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, religious minorities (either Catholic or Protestant) had and continue to have the constitutional right to set up their own schools separate from the majority in a school district. Currently, in these provinces the “separate” schools are almost always fully publicly funded Roman Catholic schools. For the purposes of this study, we have identified these schools in a separate category and, given the commonality of their religious approach to education with the majority of non-government schools, have included them in the non-government category when making overall comparisons. While historically some Roman Catholic schools operated within the non-sectarian public school districts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the education systems of these provinces as well as British Columbia and Prince Edward Island have never included separate Roman Catholic schools. The end of the dual confessional school system in Manitoba in 1890 provoked a national crisis. The 1896 compromise that ended the political stalemate made some provision for Roman Catholic teaching in schools, but it did not restore public funding for a denominational school system. Newfoundland eliminated its denominational school system through a provincial referendum (1997) and constitutional amendment (1998), replacing it with a single “secular” public school system.

Despite the differences between provincial systems of education, however, there are some generalizations that can be made about the structure and governance of schooling in English Canada. Provincial (and territorial) legislatures pass laws related to education of all kinds: public, private, technical, early childhood, post- secondary. They guarantee universal, free elementary and secondary public schooling to the end of Grade 12. Provincial ministries of education administer the acts and regulations related to schooling, including financing. For the K-12 school systems, these centralized ministries determine school curriculum and authorize or recommend teaching resources.  In collaboration with stakeholders such as provincial teachers’ organizations, they also determine the qualifications necessary for those teaching in the school systems.  Within the provincially established structure and regulations, the operation of public schools (and in some provinces, separate schools), however, is the responsibility of local school authorities, usually called school boards, which are governed by locally elected trustees.

An introduction to the structure and governance of schooling in Quebec will be given in a later section.

Current Policy Context and Landscape of Private Schooling

Because education falls into provincial (and territorial) jurisdiction, there is considerable variation in the laws and regulations concerning non-government schooling across Canada.  The terminology varies across jurisdictions, so that some provinces call them private schools; in others they are called independent schools. Some provinces make no legislative provision for non-government schools. Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of five or six, and sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, depending on the jurisdiction. This compulsory schooling can be delivered in the home or through government or non-government schooling (Allison and Van Pelt, 2012).

The regulation of alternatives to the public school differs by jurisdiction. The amount of public funding available to non-government schools also ranges. Some jurisdictions make no funding available, while others offer up to 70% of the per pupil provincial grants available to public schools for non-government schools that teach the provincially mandated curriculum and abide by a range of accountability measures.   Though no statistics regarding enrollment in non-government schools are collected nationally, estimates are that about 8% of all school-aged children across Canada attend such schools (Allison and Van Pelt, 2012), again with considerable variation from province to province. The constitutional restriction on government-funded denominational schools in most jurisdictions, the trend of secularization of the public in the latter half of the twentieth century, and legal challenges that resulted in the elimination of remaining vestiges of religious exercises and instruction in many jurisdictions have resulted in increased enrollment in non-government schools since the 1980s.

Ontario

As Canada’s most populous province, Ontario historically has had the most school-aged children enrolled in English-speaking non-government schools,   though it has not had the highest percentage of children enrolled in these schools. The province requires very little from these schools in terms of compliance with curriculum or other regulation except for high schools that offer diplomas to enable university entrance, but it also offers no public funding. Because of this lack of provincial oversight, enrollment statistics are not reliable. Recent estimates are that around six percent of school-aged students are enrolled in non-government schools in the province (Allison and Van Pelt, 2012). Around half of student enrollment in these schools is in religious schools.

Alberta and Saskatchewan

These provinces offer, like Ontario, fully publicly funded separate Roman Catholic schools, but also make provision for a range of other alternative programs within the public school systems,   including some grounded in religious perspectives. Since 1994, Alberta has also been the only Canadian jurisdiction to make provision for charter schools. As a result, these provinces have relatively low rates of enrollment in non-government schools. In Alberta only 4% of school-aged students are enrolled in non-government schools. Around 40% of these are Protestant Christian schools. There are also Jewish, Islamic, and Sikh schools. The vast majority of these schools are accredited, meaning they teach the provincial curriculum, participate in a provincial testing regime, and abide by a range of other accountability measures. In Alberta, this qualifies the schools for up to 70% of the provincial per pupil operating grant of government schools, paying for about 50% of the operating expenses of such schools.

In Saskatchewan in 2010-11, 2.5% of all students in the province were enrolled in their independent schools. Until 1964, Saskatchewan’s separate schools were funded only up to grade eight. However, non-government so-called “historical high schools,” including   Catholic and Protestant ones, received government funding since the early 1900s. While other non-government schools have not been funded by the government, funding similar to that in effect in British Columbia (see below) has recently been announced by the government to go into effect for the 2012-13 school year.

British Columbia and Manitoba

British Columbia entered  Canadian  Confederation in 1871 with a  non-sectarian public school system that made no provision for Roman Catholic separate schools. As mentioned above, Manitoba eliminated public funding for Roman Catholic schools in  1890.   This is the most important reason these two provinces have the second-and third-highest proportion of enrollments in non-government schools in Canada.

In British Columbia, these schools are governed by the Independent School Act (1989). The Act defines four categories of independent schools representing varying levels of public funding received and differing regulatory frameworks. Group 1 schools receive provincial funding equal to 50% of the per pupil operating grants received by government schools. These schools meet a range of program requirements set by the provincial education ministry and abide by a host of accountability measures. Group 2 schools meet the same requirements but receive 35% of the per pupil grant because their per student operating expenses exceed those of government schools. Group 3 schools receive no funding, being unregulated except for meeting local facility codes. Group 4 schools are schools operated by for- profit companies and are not eligible for government grants. In 2011, just under 11% of all school-aged children in the province attended independent schools, and 98% of those attend schools which receive some public funding (Allison and Van  Pelt, 2012). Over half of British Columbia’s independent schools are religious, approximately 21% being Roman Catholic and 40% Protestant. Furthermore, Catholic schools enroll close to 30% of all independent school students; Protestant schools enroll approximately 40%.

In 2010, just under 8% of school-aged children in Manitoba attended independent schools, and 90% of such schools in the province received some public funding, amounting to up to 50% of the per pupil grant to government schools. One third of all of Manitoba’s in- dependent schools are Roman Catholic or Eastern Rite; other religious independent schools are Mennonite, Jewish, Islamic, or Christian.

Atlantic Provinces

While legislative requirements and regulations vary among the four Atlantic provinces, enrollment in non-government schools is uniformly low in this region of Canada and no public funding is provided. Nova Scotia legislation recognizes and defines non-government schooling, and specifically allows religious education in those schools. In 2010-11, 2.6% of all elementary and secondary school students were enrolled in non-government schools in the province. Prince Edward Island has had very few non-government schools; indeed there was only one Christian high school operating in the years our survey participants would have graduated from high school. New Brunswick’s provincial legislation makes no specific provision for the establishment or regulation of non-government schools. Despite this, recent estimates are that there are twenty such schools in the province, enrolling about 1% of school-aged students (Allison and Van Pelt, 2012). A  few of these are Christian schools. A handful of non-government schools have been established in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1998 when it replaced its denominational school system with a single secular public system.

Territories

Yukon, Northwest, and Nunavut territories all define and make provision for non-government schooling in legislation governing education, but there are no such schools operating in the territories.

International Reputation for Excellence

Education in Canada has recently received an international reputation for excellence.   The  OECD first administered the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000, and the results for Canadian students have always ranked among the top in the world (PISA 2012, p. 134).  A visual comparison of the data interactively displayed on the PISA website shows that the most recently gathered data (2009)  again place Canada’s students among the top inter- nationally ranked scores, particularly for reading and math. Given this base of comparison with their government school counterparts, any distinctions pointing to additional success of non-government schools would warrant considerable attention. This report highlights some of those distinctions.

Critiques of Religiously Defined Schooling

As governmenT education in Canada has increasingly become secular education, critiques and concerns continue to be offered regarding religiously defined schooling. Concerns by democratic theorists, for example, about civic and democratic education have been directed at evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant schools (Blacker,   1998;  Gutmann,  1987;   Macedo, 1991; MacMullen, 2007) with claims that such schools create social enclaves drawing significant boundaries with public life and mainstream culture. Peshkin (1986) argued that faith-based schooling may hinder the development of the civic virtues necessary for participating well in democratic institutions. Others claim that narrow student identities are defined and maintained through the socialization in religious schools (Ammerman, 1987; Rosen, 2005). Christian schools create norm-reinforcing rather than horizon-expanding social capital, others have claimed (Morgan and Sorensen, 1999). Still others hold that such schools are political training grounds for eventual launching of conservative crusades (Diamond, 1995; Reese, 1985; Rose, 1988).

In Canada some of the more engaged contributors to the discussion of the critiques for religious and for non-state schooling include  Elmer   Thiessen  and  Eamonn   Callan. In Thiessen’s book In Defense of Religious Schools and Colleges, he responds to common objections to religious schooling and argues that a pluralistic educational system better prepares students for productive citizenship in pluralist liberal democracies than does a monopolistic state-maintained school system. Callan, professor of education at Stanford, is a leading thinker in civic and moral education. In his book Creating Citizens, he argues that the liberal state can permissibly show partiality for “common schools” open to all over ”separate schools”  that cater to students largely on the basis of religious or other criteria. However, he also says that there may be a coherent case for state funding of non-government schools if these schools accept the basic ends of liberal education.

Outcomes of Private Religious Schooling

Inquiry into the outcomes of private religious schooling, including independent Catholic schooling, Evangelical Christian (more commonly called Christian) schooling, and of religiously informed home education in Canada has not been extensive.

Some empirical literature by American researchers supports the view that religious schools, especially Catholic schools, matter for such behaviours as student volunteering and for strengthening the formation of civic virtues (Bryk, Lee, and Holland, 1993; Sikkink, 2004; Wolf, 2007; Niemi, Hepburn, and Chapman, 2000; Nolin, Chaney, Chapman, and Chandler, 1997; Wolf, 1998). Some have found that Catholic schooling, especially through service learning experiences, increase volunteering by students (McLellan and Youniss, 2003; Smith 1997). While some have found no difference in student volunteering be- tween non-Catholic religious students and public school students (Campbell, 2001; Sikkink, 2009), others have found that fundamentalist schools surpass public schools on volunteering in community (Godwin, Godwin, and Martinez-Ebers, 2004).

Questions about the educational attainment of graduates of non-government religious schools have also been raised, as little is known about the effect of these various school sectors on such items as eventual years of schooling, highest educational degree, and type of undergraduate institution attended. While Catholic schooling has been recognized as a predictor of higher educational attainment (Bryk, Lee, and Holland, 1993; Neal 1997), little is known about the links between other private religious secondary schooling and tertiary education. While some have shown positive correlation between religiosity and academic achievement and secondary school graduation (Glanville, Sikkink, and Hernandes, 2008; Jeynes, 2003; Muller and Ellison, 2001; Regnerus and  Elder, 2003; Stokes, 2008), others have found lower levels of educational attainment among Christian schools (Darnell and Sherkat, 1997; Sherkat and Darnell, 1999).

Of course, Coleman, Hoffer, and  Kilgore  (1982)  had much to say in the earlier discussion about the effects of Catholic schooling. The central finding of their report was that Catholic (private) schools in the U.S., which operated on an average cost per student about  39%  lower than public schools and with larger average class sizes, had “better cognitive outcomes.” This was the case even after controlling for circumstances such as family income and educational background. They also found that in Catholic high schools, the difference in achievement levels among student from different backgrounds was smaller than in public schools—the achievement gap lessening from first to final year in Catholic high schools, but growing in public schools. The authors concluded that “the Catholic schools come closer to the American ideal of the ‘common school,’ educating all alike, than do the public schools” (p. 144).

Reginald Bibby (2009) concluded from a  survey of grade 10-12 Canadian students that students in private Protestant Christian schools follow the news less than Canadian teens in general (25% vs. 40%), are less concerned about environmental issues (38% vs. 51%), and consider racial discrimination to be less serious  (37%  vs. 44%)—even while they see more need to care for other countries (79% vs. 67%) and have greater concern for world poverty (44% vs. 39%). Bibby’s sample of Christian schools was very small, however, and he does not try to distinguish between the effect of the socioeconomic and religious background of the students and the actual influence of the school. Since little other research is available, the question remains to what extent students in Christian schools are culturally aware and engaged, and how that is affected by the ethos of a particular school.

Harro Van Brummelen and Robert Koole (2011) conducted a study in British Columbia, Alberta, and Washington state which “explored the perceptions of Christian school principals, teachers, and grade 12 students about why and how their schools prepare students for awareness of and participation in society and culture”  (p.  2). Their study clearly revealed common goals among principals and teachers in terms of cultivating the development of student social and political awareness and involvement. They found that these schools’ definitions of cultural engagement stressed how to act in society as individuals, largely disregarding “structural and systemic issues” (p. 9). The study found that most students were “both astute and concerned about world problems” (p.  11)  and that,  furthermore,  “fully   80% of all students mentioned,   without prompting,  that their future plans involved a service-oriented vocation involving public-spirited or philanthropic concerns” (p. 11).

Still, overall, little data exist that can be used for reliable, direct comparison between the graduates of various school sectors. Thus this inquiry should facilitate analysis between sectors in a manner that has not previously been possible. As the main purposes for religiously informed schooling often include academic goals, spiritual formation / religious development goals, and citizenship/community engagement goals, the survey was designed to measure aspects of each of these outcomes, and this report will outline the results within these three headings.

Approaches to Inquiry/Methodology

The first report of the Cardus Education Survey, released in  2011,  relied mostly on data gathered from graduates of  American public schools—private Catholic schools, non-religious private schools, Protestant schools, and religious home education—but also included findings based on data gathered from school principals and administrators of both Canadian and American schools (Pennings, Sikkink, Wiens, Seel, and Van Pelt, 2011). Four additional, smaller studies contributed to aspects of the inquiry, all of which have been reported in some considerable detail in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of School Choice (see Van Pelt, Sikkink, Pennings, and Seel, 2012; Sikkink, 2012; Van Brummelen and Koole, 2012; LeBlanc and Slaughter, 2012; Candal and Glenn, 2012; and Beckman, Drexler, and Eames, 2012).

This second report of the  Cardus   Education  Survey is based on a March 2012 survey of a representative sample of 24- to 39-year-old Canadian residents who had graduated from secondary schools. In total 2,054 respondents contributed to the survey, of which the following were used: 845 graduates of government secondary schools; 393 graduates of Catholic schools; 297 graduates of non-Catholic schools;  179  graduates of Independent non-religious schools;   113  graduates of Christian schools; and 41 religious home-educated students. Although we had respondents from Islamic schools, Jewish schools, Sikh schools, mainline Protestant schools, and non-religiously-defined homeschooling, the numbers in each category were insufficient to study them as distinct groups, and they could not naturally be collapsed into another category. Thus responses from graduates of these sectors were not analyzed.

Once the respondents from English-speaking Canada were separated from those of Quebec, and only those categories for which we had enough responses were considered, the distribution of the respondents who were used in the report was as follows: 683 graduates of government secondary schools; 368 graduates of separate Catholic schools; 49 graduates of independent Catholic schools; 112 graduates of Independent non-religious schools; 110 graduates of Christian schools; and 34 religious home-educated students.

While Appendix D contains more detail of the methodology of this study, this report includes, wherever possible, school effects. These are determined by controlling for variables such as: 

  • age, gender, race/ethnicity, region of high school; 
  • attended public school some years; 
  • background variables (when respondent was in high school): 
    • mother and father: educational attainment, religious attendance, closeness, pushed academics, Catholic, conservative or traditional Catholic, conservative Protestant 
    • respondent: religious service attendance, religious youth group attendance; 
  • family structure during childhood:
    • lived with (a) mother-figure less than 16 years, (b) father-figure less than 16 years; 
    • lived with two biological parents;
    • parents ever divorced or separated

Findings: School Effects on Graduate Outcomes (Excluding Quebec)

This section  of   the  Report  summarizes  the   findings  from  the   comparison  of  graduates (age 24 to 39) from six Canadian school sectors: Government, Separate Catholic, Independent Catholic, Independent  non-religious,  Evangelical   Protestant  (often  called   Christian  schools), and religious home education (homeschooling families in which the mother regularly attended religious services.) Graduate outcomes are described and discussed under three main themes: cultural, economic, and social engagement; academic achievement; and spiritual formation. Throughout, the report emphasizes school effects—the independent effect of high school experiences on various outcomes net of family and individual characteristics—on various life course outcomes.

The data from surveys of graduates, all of whom are residents of Canada, are presented after multiple regression analysis. Two models are presented side by side: first (the left bar in the charts) are the raw data from the school graduates, without any controls for family background differences; second (the right bar) are the results (regression coefficients) after controlling for a multitude of family background variables, in order to isolate the schooling effect. Variables controlled for in this second model include age, race, gender, and parental characteristics such as educational attainment, religious service attendance, academic push from parents, religious affiliation, and family structure.

In all charts the center line, marked zero, represents the control (or comparison) group, graduates of government-run public schools. Therefore, as the charts are interpreted, the second bar, the model including controls, attempts to isolate the specific effect of the school on the independent variable presented. The bars represent the coefficients from the regression model for a particular schooling type. The scale for each chart varies depending on the values of the variable being predicted.

Nearly 200 graphs—far more than are in this report—are available in the Cardus Education Survey 2012 extended data package at go.cardus.ca/data

Cultural, Economic, and Social Engagement

How do graduates of non-government, religious, or non-religious schools participate in society economically, politically, socially, and culturally? Are graduates of these schools contributing to the common good? To what extent and in what ways? Do they take part in the public square or are they isolated from it? Are they contributing to a healthy, democratic, and pluralistic society, and a prosperous and sustainable economy? Are they politically informed, artistically sensitive, and ethically grounded? Are they fulfilled, caring, and healthy? Are they critical and creative thinkers? Do they vote, volunteer, and donate? Are they involved community leaders and political contributors? Are they employed, informed, and connected? Are they engaged in the fine arts and in cross-cultural activity?  Do they read? Do they care about the environment, ethics, and work place behaviour? Do they value strong family life and the contribution it makes to society?

A number of indicators emerge from the data collected. This section reviews graduate comparisons and school effects in:

  • demographics;
  • volunteering, participation, voting, and donating behaviours;
  • occupations, jobs, and work;
  • political knowledge, conversations, and actions;
  • social connectedness; environmental views and activities;
  • reading, fine arts, and cross cultural engagements;
  • views and attitudes related to cultural, economic, and social engagement; 
  • obligations and responsibilities felt toward others;
  • level of trust and confidence in others;
  • political party preference and political views on roles of government;
  • satisfaction with life and risk orientation; and
  • reflections on how well their secondary school experience prepared them for social and cultural participation.

Demographic Characteristics

Income

Before controls for demographic and parental characteristics, the current average household income of graduates of almost all schooling types (other than religious home educated) is not significantly different from that of the government school graduate. After controls,  the school effect trends positive for Christian school graduates, indicating a slightly higher current household income on average for Christian school graduates, but the difference is not statistically significant in this sample. Independent non-religious school graduates are trending higher on average than government school graduates, but again the relatively small effect is not statistically significant. The lower levels of current income among graduates of religious home education is accounted for by family background differences between graduates of religious home education and government schools. The overall conclusion from this sample is that school sector is not significantly related to current household income for adults between 23 and 40 years of age.

Marital Status

After classifying graduates as currently married, divorced or separated, never married, or living together, we find some evidence that graduates of all non-government schooling types that we considered are less likely than government school graduates to be currently divorced or separated rather than married. The estimated size of these differences is large though not statistically significant, given the relatively small percentage of graduates reporting that they are currently divorced or separated. Christian school graduates, for example, are estimated to be 2.2 times less likely than their government school graduate peers to be currently divorced rather than married.  Separate  Catholic schoolers show some evidence of being more likely to be never married than government school graduates, but Christian schoolers in contrast are 1.6 times more likely to be currently married rather than never married even after accounting for family background differences. Besides current marital status, our respondents reported whether they had ever been divorced. The average differences by sector showed a much lower likelihood of ever being divorced among separate Catholic, independent Catholic, and Christian school graduates. These differences remain substantial after controls for family background, though the Christian school effect shows somewhat consistently lower rates of divorce.

In terms of living together without being married, the non-government school sector graduates tend to be more likely to marry than live together. The strongest difference is between the religious home-educated graduates and the government school graduates:   the religious home-educated graduates are   7  times more likely to be married rather than living together compared to the government school graduates, and this effect remains even after controls for family background differences. The Christian school effect is also strongly toward marriage rather than living together, though this effect is accounted for by family background rather than school effect.

Sample Trends: Demographics

  • Separate Catholic: More likely to have never been married and to marry at a later age than government school graduates. Less likely to be divorced or separated,  and as likely to be living with a partner.
  • Independent Catholic: Less likely to be living with a  partner or to be divorced or separated, but as likely to be married and marry about the same age as government school graduates.
  • Independent Non-Religious: Differ from government school graduates only in being less likely to be divorced or separated.
  • Christian: Marry younger and are more likely to be married than any other group. Less likely to be divorced or separated. Less likely to be living with a partner outside of being married than graduates of government schools. More likely to have more children. While school effects explain much of the differences, differences in family background appear to explain some of these results.
  • Religious Home Education: Somewhat less likely to be divorced or separated and extremely unlikely to be co-habiting. Though they marry at an earlier age, they are somewhat more likely to be married than government school graduates. More likely to have more children.

When simply comparing whether graduates are married or not (see Figure 1),  graduates of  Christian schools are more likely to be married than government school graduates. In fact, the effect for Christian graduates without family background controls is larger than any other group. The effects for religious home-educated and independent Catholic respondents are strongly trending in the same direction even if not statistically significant in this sample. While graduates of Christian schools and of religious home education marry at an earlier age than the other groups, the schooling effect only holds in this sample for the Christian school graduate. The Christian school graduate marries nearly a year younger on average than the government school graduate.  Independent  Catholic school graduates marry at about the same age as government school graduates. Graduates of separate   Catholic schools and of independent non-religious schools appear to marry later than government school graduates, though the strongest and most statistically significant effect is found among the separate Catholic school graduates, who tend to marry on average 0.7 years later than the government school graduates.

Number of Children

As shown in Figure 2, the number of children reported by respondents appears to be strongly influenced by school sector; graduates of Christian schools and of religious home education tend to have more children than any other group. While the other sectors appear to have somewhat fewer children than government school graduates, no significant difference from these graduates is found for graduates of separate Catholic schools, independent Catholic schools, or Independent non-religious schools.

To summarize, the most striking and consistent findings are the tendency to be married, the lower age of first marriage, the greater number of children, and the somewhat less likelihood of divorce among the Christian school graduates. Religious home-educated graduates are fairly similar, though they are more consistently likely to be married rather than living together. Thus, while many similarities exist, the groups most different from government school graduates, on the demographic measures of income, marital status, and number of children, are the Christian school graduate and, strikingly so, the religious home-educated graduate, even when taking into account their religious and socio-economic family background.

Civic Activity

Volunteering

Acts of civic engagement such as volunteering are considered in hours of volunteering reported and types of organizations served. Overall, as shown in Figure 3, a significant positive school effect is found

for volunteering in activities outside of a religious congregation for graduates of independent non-religious schools. This finding points to a strong cultural contribution being made by graduates of  these schools,   and stands in marked contrast to what has been found for graduates of similar schools in the United States (Cardus, 2011). Independent Catholic school graduates show a tendency toward higher levels of volunteering, while separate Catholic school graduates are less likely to volunteer than government school graduates. The findings for Christian graduates show no significant difference compared to government school graduates, and, although the religious home-educated respondents are negatively related to volunteering compared to the government school graduates, this effect is not statistically significant. When total numbers of hours volunteering outside the congregation are also considered, these findings are somewhat replicated. There is solid positive school effect for the number of hours volunteered by graduates of independent non-religious schools; graduates of independent Catholic schools and of Christian schools trend positive as well. Trending negative but not significantly different from government school graduates are findings for graduates of separate Catholic schools and religious home education.

The finding for Christian school graduates volunteering outside of a congregation becomes rather more exceptional and positive when considered alongside the findings demonstrated in  Figure 4 on volunteering in a religious congregation. Whether serving a leadership role, serving on a committee, or organizing an event, graduates of Christian schools are significantly more likely to volunteer in their congregation than almost any other group. For example, they are 1.9 times more likely than government school graduates to serve in a leadership capacity, and about  2.5   times more likely to serve on a committee or to organize an event.   Despite this high commitment of free time to their congregations, these graduates are still volunteering outside the congregation at levels similar to government school graduates. Religious home-educated graduates are similarly if not more likely to volunteer in a congregation than Christian school graduates.  In contrast, graduates of separate Catholic and independent Catholic schools appear to be less likely to volunteer in the congregation, though this may reflect fewer volunteer opportunities in separate Catholic congregations compared to Protestant ones. Consistent with this claim, we find that net of current religion, including religious tradition and attendance, there are no significant differences between separate  Catholic and government school sectors on congregational volunteering. When total numbers of hours volunteering inside the congregation are considered, these findings are confirmed:   strong positive effects for  Christian and religious home-educated graduates compared to government school graduates. Independent non-religious school graduates are significantly negatively related to number of hours volunteered within a congregational context, which perhaps explains in part the higher levels of volunteering outside the congregation for these graduates. The other sectors are not significantly different from the government school graduates on the number of hours spent volunteering within the congregation.

The data provide evidence on the likelihood that graduates are involved in various areas and types of volunteering. Respondents were asked whether they had volunteered in health care, schooling, youth, and several other specific types of organizations or causes within the past  12  months.   For example,  graduates of Independent non-religious schools show a strong positive school effect for volunteering in the health care sector, in which we find also a strong negative effect for Christian school graduates. Both of these effects are close to significance after controlling for family background differences.   Graduates of all other school types appear to be less likely than their government school peers to volunteer in health care or in fighting particular diseases, though these findings are not statistically significant. This suggests that  graduates   of  independent  non-religious  schools are focused on health-related causes, but it may also reflect their preference to support “establishment charities,” which tend to be health-related, rather

than smaller  “grassroots” charities. It may be that Christian graduates react to the strong public support for establishment charities by channelling their volunteering toward nonprofit organizations that may not receive as much attention. Opportunities may matter as well, since smaller religious charities are likely to channel their requests for volunteers through religious organizations to which Christian graduates are connected.

This may explain why, after controlling for family background variables, Christian school graduates are 1.8 times more likely than government school graduates to volunteer for an elementary or a secondary school. All other groups appear to be less likely to volunteer in a school than the average government school graduate. This may indicate again a  “grassroots”  orientation of the Christian graduate, a   willingness to assist at the local school level, and also suggests a deeper willingness and proclivity for involvement in their own children’s education. It could also point to a staffing need in the schools their children attend, again further supporting the notion that families involved in such schools have a more intimate connection to the educational service delivery than any other group, not unexpectedly since in most cases they are directly paying for it.

The independent Catholic school graduate is on average more likely to be involved in youth sports leagues and youth programs. The religious home-educated graduate appears to also be more likely to be involved in youth leagues, but the independent non-religious school graduate less likely so. No other group clearly contributes at a different level than the government school graduate. These findings may well affirm the important role of sports in some Catholic communities, but overall suggest that other groups are as engaged as their government school graduate peers in such community involvements. 

Volunteering for an organization to assist the poor or the elderly is significantly more common for independent non-religious school graduates. The results indicate these graduates are 1.8 times as likely to report volunteering for these organizations than are government school graduates. This may suggest that for 24- to 39-year-old graduates in this sector, assisting the poor and elderly is well-integrated into their conception of what it is to be an active and engaged citizen. The school effect for Christian school graduates trends positive but statistically is no different than that for government school graduates. Both separate Catholic and independent  Catholic school sector graduates appear to be less likely to volunteer for organizations to assist the poor or the elderly, though these differences appear to be due mainly to family background controls. In addition, the findings need to be interpreted with care since some groups may prefer to assist the poor or elderly directly rather than through an organization. 

In terms of volunteering for a neighbourhood or civic group, the school effects are significantly positive and strong for independent non-religious school graduates. Other sectors showed inconclusive evidence of a positive relationship to neighbourhood and civic volunteering compared to government school graduates, including the separate Catholic and Christian school graduates. The independent Catholic effect is trending negative on this measure, but, along with the religious home-educated effect, the results only support the claim that these graduates volunteer for a neighbourhood or civic group at the same rate as the government school graduate. Thus non-government school graduates are as likely, or more likely, to be contributing to neighbourhood and civic groups than their peers graduating from government schools.

While the independent Catholic school graduate sector shows a strong positive relationship to volunteering for an arts or cultural organization, graduates of the independent non-religious, the separate   Catholic,  and the Christian school sectors, although trending positive, show no significant difference from the government school graduate. Religious home-educated graduates appear to be highly unlikely to volunteer in arts or cultural organizations; that result is not statistically significant despite its large size, which may indicate wide variation among religious homeschoolers on this score. Keep in mind that negative trends for religious home-educated graduates may be less likely to volunteer for organizations even while being quite active in arts and culture, as later findings will reveal.

While the independent Catholic school graduate sector shows a strong positive relationship to volunteering for an arts or cultural organization, graduates of the independent non-religious, the separate   Catholic,  and the Christian school sectors, although trending positive, show no significant difference from the government school graduate. Religious home-educated graduates appear to be highly unlikely to volunteer in arts or cultural organizations; that result is not statistically significant despite its large size, which may indicate wide variation among religious homeschoolers on this score. Keep in mind that negative trends for religious home-educated graduates may be less likely to volunteer for organizations even while being quite active in arts and culture, as later findings will reveal.

The independent non-religious school graduate,  as shown in   Figure  5,  is  2.3  times more likely than the government school graduate to be involved in volunteering for a political cause. But other school sector differences are not as consistent. The Catholic sectors appear to be much less likely to volunteer for 

 

political causes, but these effects, while very large, are not statistically significant after adding family control variables. The religious home education sector trend is negative on political involvement compared to the government school sector, and there is a small positive trend for Christian school graduates. We can only conclude from this sample, however, that Christian school graduates are equally as likely as government school graduates to volunteer for a political cause. This finding is striking, given that the American Christian school graduate is much less likely to volunteer for a political cause than the American public school graduate (Cardus, 2011). We can conclude that Canadian Christian school graduates are not likely to be isolated from politics—perhaps even more involved than their separate Catholic school counterparts—but are not more involved than the government school standard-bearers either. The overwhelmingly strong school effect for independent non-religious school graduates is an important finding that suggests that such schools continue to take their role in shaping politically responsible citizens seriously.

Overall, we do find some evidence that Canadian volunteering varies by school sector. The choice of causes tends to vary by sector: Christian school graduates, for example, focus more on faith, family, and neighbour, while independent non-religious school graduates appear to be more civically and culturally engaged, especially in areas of health care, poverty, and political causes.

Participation

Since participation, as an indicator of civic engagement, is different from volunteering, respondents were asked about the types of organizations or groups in which they participate. These include service clubs or fraternal organizations such as the Elks or Rotary, veterans groups, religious groups, senior citizens’ groups, women’s groups, issue-oriented political organizations, non-partisan civic organizations, hobby groups, sports teams or youth groups, and neighbourhood associations or community groups. They were also asked about community involvement such as attendance at Parent Teacher Association or school group meetings, community group meetings,  charity or church work, and whether they had donated blood or given money to a charity.

Although religious home-educated graduates are trending positive, no group was found to be significantly more or less likely to participate in an issue-oriented political organization than government school graduates. Graduates of independent non-religious schools and of Christian schools are as likely as government school graduates to do so. Despite strong negative trends within both Catholic sectors, the differences with government school graduates are not statistically significant. Thus it appears that non-government schools, and specifically Christian schools, are producing neither hyper-political nor politically disengaged graduates. As will be seen later, their voting behaviour is similar as well.

Participation in non-partisan civic organizations is higher among religious home-educated graduates than government school graduates. We cannot say with confidence that the other groups are different from the government school graduates, though the strong negative trends for the separate Catholic respondents and the more muted negative trend among Christian graduates are consistent with earlier results. The smaller negative trend for Christian schools may be partially offset by their participation in church-related activities.

Sample Trends: Participation

  • Separate Catholic: More likely to participate in a   neighbourhood or community group. Less likely to participate in the other forms of civic life measured here.
  • Independent Catholic: While similar in other participation areas to government school graduates, they appear to be more likely to participate in hobby groups, sports teams,  or youth groups,  but less likely to participate in the other forms of civic participation measured here. Overall, however, we cannot make definitive claims of difference from government school graduates on these measures.
  • Independent Non-Religious: Not only more likely than any other group to serve as an officer or a committee member for a non-religious cause, they also appear to be more likely to participate in a neighbourhood or community group and a political organization. Less likely to participate in hobby groups, sports teams, or youth groups.
  • Christian: Little difference from their government school peers on almost all measures. Some positive tendencies on involvement in political organizations and neighbourhood and community groups, but also tend to be negatively related to serving as an officer or in a civic organization.
  • Religious home education: More likely to participate in civic organizations and in neighbourhood and community groups. Less likely to participate as officers of non-religious organizations. The direction of the findings here are fairly positive in terms of religious home education civic participation.

Findings for the question on participation in hobby groups,  sports teams, or youth groups reveal some interesting contrasts with political involvement. The most distinctive group is the independent non-religious school graduates, who participate in these groups less than government school graduates. Other differences are not as large and consistent, but the positive trend for independent Catholic school graduates seems to reflect the youth and sports emphasis identified in earlier findings. Religious home-educated graduates appear to be more likely to participate in these organizations, and the other sectors are very similar to the government school graduate comparison group.

Participation in a neighbourhood or community group shows somewhat different patterns. On this measure, the independent non-religious school graduates show higher levels of participation, and this effect remains substantial but not statistically significant when controlling for family background differences. Christian school and separate Catholic school graduates tend to be slightly higher on this measure, but in this case we can only confidently conclude that they are as likely as government school graduates to participate. Religious home-educated graduates appear to be quite likely to participate in neighbourhood or community groups, though this large positive effect is not statistically significant. Graduates of independent Catholic schools appear to be less likely than government school graduates to participate in a neighbourhood or community group, though again the small sample size likely explains why this finding is not statistically significant.

Graduates of independent non-religious schools are much more likely than any other group to serve as an officer or a committee member of a non-religious organization.   Separate   Catholic school graduates are less likely to play this role in a non-religious organization than are government school graduates.  The negative effect for Christians is small; there are no differences between Christian school and government school graduates on this measure. Religious home education graduates appear to be negatively related to serving as an officer or committee member in a non-religious organization, but the effect is not consistent enough to draw a definitive conclusion.

Overall, the civic participation of the graduates was fairly similar across sectors with a few important exceptions.   First,   the independent non-religious school graduates continue to show high levels of some important forms of civic participation, while the separate Catholic school graduates have a   tendency to remain on the sidelines. Christian school graduates generally occupy the middle ground, very similar to government school graduates. The results from the religious home-educated graduates are mixed, but their strong positive findings for most of these civic participation measures are impressive, despite the middling involvement in political organizations and negative but inconclusive findings on serving as an officer or committee member for a non-religious organization.

Donating

Graduates of Christian schools and of religious home education are significantly more likely than other graduates to make charitable contributions on a  regular or semi-regular basis. These effects remain strong but not statistically significant after controlling for family background variables, as indicated by Figure 6. No other clear school sector differences emerge, though independent non-religious graduates appear to be slightly positive on regular giving.

A strong school effect is noted for graduates of  Christian schools and of religious home education for reporting that they donate at least 10% of their income, as indicated in Figure 7. Even after accounting for family background differences, graduates of Christian schools are approximately 2.6 times more likely to donate 10% of their income to charitable causes than are their government school graduate peers. Religious home-educated graduates are 2.4 times more likely to donate 10% of their income compared to government school graduates. We note that the 10% figure is a particularly high bar given that Canadians on average donate only 0.64% of their income to charitable causes (Fraser Institute, “Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2011 Generosity Index,” p. 2). No other school sectors are clearly distinct from the government school sector. The separate Catholic school graduates trend negative, but this seems to be accounted for by family background characteristics, and the independent non-religious graduates appear to have somewhat lower propensity to donate at least 10% of their income.

Survey respondents were also asked about amount donated to various causes. Just as there was a lower inclination for the independent  Catholic sector graduates and the religious home-educated graduates to volunteer or participate in political causes, there is a fairly strong negative effect of independent Catholic school attendance on donating to political causes. The religious home education sector is negatively related to political giving, but the estimate is not statistically significant. Beyond that, independent non-religious and Christian school graduates are as likely as government school graduates to donate to political causes. Separate Catholic school graduates are slightly negative on giving but are well within the margin of error, indicating no difference with the government school comparison group.

A strong school effect is found for graduates of  Christian schools and of religious home education to donate amounts to a church or religious congregation significantly more than government school graduates. 

In contrast, independent non-religious school graduates donate significantly less to a church or religious congregation than do government school graduates, while both Catholic sector graduates donate no differently than government school graduates to a church or religious congregation.

Christian school effects and religious home education effects are very strongly positive for amounts donated to religious organizations or causes. Independent non- religious graduates, and both Catholic sector graduates appear to give less to these causes, though the effects are not statistically significant.

Amounts donated to other secular or non-religious causes are not strongly correlated to school sector. In contrast to results for religious giving, independent non-religious graduates are trending positive for this measure. And religious home-educated graduates are strongly negative on the amount of secular giving. Otherwise, there are virtually no differences between the other sectors and government school graduates.

 

Other studies show that some groups of Canadians donate significantly more than others, and that the difference is not entirely explained by income level. Some part of the explanation may be rooted in socialization within different types of schools.  The strongest findings are that Christian schools and religious home education sectors are associated with being more likely to donate at least 10% of their income, to donate to churches or religious congregations, and to donate to other religious organizations or causes. Furthermore, although Christian school graduates are significantly more likely to donate to religious causes, they remain as likely to donate to all other causes as their government school peers. So in terms of overall giving, the evidence supports the assertion that Christian school graduates are giving at rates and for a diversity of causes that are consistent with good citizenship. 

Sample Trends: Overall Civic Activity

  • Separate Catholic: Volunteer in fewer ways and are not particularly distinctive on financial donations, but participate in neighbourhood and community groups as well as in arts and culture.
  • Independent Catholic: Show no distinct voting, donating, or participating results, although they do volunteer in several ways.
  • Independent Non-Religious: Found to be robustly civically engaged. Although not distinctive in giving patterns, except that they are not likely to donate to congregations, they appear to vote more, and volunteer and participate in a wide variety of organizations.
  • Christian: More likely to volunteer in a number of sectors including congregation, school, and neighbourhood, and are as likely to volunteer in almost all other sectors. No more likely than government school graduates to vote. Donate to a wide variety of causes, both religious and secular, and are much more likely to donate at least 10% of their income.
  • Religious Home Education: More likely to volunteer in and to donate to their congregation and other religious causes. Less likely to volunteer in and to donate to other places and organizations, although they do participate in some additional areas such as youth and community groups.

Voting

Voting is often considered the quintessential citizenship skill, but little is known about how voting varies across school sector. Our data show some direction,  though not consistent relationships between sector and voting. Independent non-religious school graduates appear to be more likely than government school graduates to have voted federally in the last election, though the relatively strong effect is still not statistically significant. No significant difference in voting behaviour is discernible for graduates of separate Catholic schools, independent Catholic schools, or Christian schools when compared to government school graduates.  Only the graduates of religious home education trend towards voting less than the government school graduate,  yet even this is not a statistically significant effect. Interestingly, in contrast to the United States (Cardus, 2011), we cannot conclude that graduation from a   particular school sector has any relationship to voting in Canada. Of course, these results also need to be considered in light of generally higher voting rates in Canada than in the United States as well. 

Occupations and Employment

Occupation

School effects exist with respect to current occupation of graduates. We first considered whether respondents held a professional or managerial position, a category that includes occupations such as “management,” “business and financial operations,”    “computer and mathematical,” as well as lawyers, architects, scientists, university and college teachers, and other professionals. It excludes elementary and secondary teachers as well as those in “community and social service.” The strongest finding, as illustrated in Figure  8, is that independent non-religious school graduates are strongly and significantly more likely to be in a professional or managerial position compared to government school graduates after controlling for family background variables. There is a negative relationship between religious home education and professional and managerial occupations,  though this is not statistically significant. Separate Catholic school graduates have a small negative relationship to these occupations but this is not statistically significant either. Christian school graduates appear to be less likely to hold professional or managerial positions, but again this is not statistically significant.

Work Status

Only religious home-educated graduates are more likely than government school graduates to be working part time. This effect is large, but not statistically significant after controlling for family variables. Both Christian and religious home-educated graduates are more likely than government school graduates to not be working, while other groups appear as likely as government school graduates not to be working. This finding may be a reflection of marrying earlier and having more children,

an activity that would take the time and attention of graduates in this age group (24- to 39-year-olds). Interestingly, however, the effect remains significant even after controlling for various marital status variables including number of children, although it does not hold after controlling for educational attainment.

Sample Trends: Occupations and Employment

  • Separate Catholic: Similar to government school graduates in almost all respects, including occupation and in likelihood of working full-time, part-time or not at all. No more likely to claim a vocational calling. Somewhat more likely to expect a job that pays well. Less likely to have concerns about the behaviour of themselves and others in the workplace.
  • Independent Catholic: Also demonstrate no significant difference in occupation, work status, vocational calling, or ethical and efficiency behaviours of themselves and others in the workplace. More likely to expect a job that is worthwhile to society. Value a job that gives room for creativity and establishing roots in the community.
  • Independent Non-Religious: Much more likely to hold higher status positions and to hold a variety of fulfillment expectations of their job such as being helpful, creative, and worthwhile to society. More likely to expect ethical behaviour from their co-workers and their employers.
  • Christian: Strong sense of vocational calling, and expect job to fulfill that religious calling. Somewhat expect job to pay well, establish roots in a community, and be helpful to others. Fairly similar to government school graduates in the likelihood of holding higher status occupations. More likely not to be employed. Somewhat more likely to expect ethical and efficient occupation- al behaviour of themselves and others.
  • Home Education: Not statistically different from their government school peers on the likelihood of holding higher status jobs. More likely to be employed part-time or not at all. Strong sense of vocational calling, and expect job to fulfill that calling. Expect job to allow for creativity but not friendship. Somewhat expect job to pay well and allow for establishing roots in the community. Some concern with justice in employer policies, but more strongly oriented to hard work and efficiency.

Vocation

The school effects are very strong for both Christian school and religious home-educated graduates to claim that they feel   God has called them to the particular line of work which they are in, even after controls for family background. Figure 9 shows that independent Catholics and independent non-religious graduates are trending positively, but no other group reports a vocational calling significantly different from that experienced by government school graduates.

Expectations of Job

Attitudes toward work may provide an important indication  of  how   young adults are oriented to self and family, and their views of how career decisions relate or not to civic life and the common good.  We asked our respondents what characteristics of jobs they value, such as a job that is helpful to others or worthwhile to society, or that pays well. 

Graduates of separate  Catholic schools are significantly more likely than government school graduates to expect that a job pays well, though this does not remain significant once family background controls are taken into account. Separate Catholic school graduates show a small trend towards higher expectations that the job offer opportunity for creativity. In all other respects their expectations are similar to those of government school graduates.  Independent Catholic school graduates are more likely to expect that their job will be worthwhile to society, though the differences with government schools are not statistically significant. Positive but somewhat smaller effects are revealed on whether independent Catholic schoolers seek a job that allows them to establish roots in a community and not have to move. They are trending positive in their hopes for a job that offers creativity, and trending less likely than government school graduates to expect their job to be directly helpful to others, though these effects are not statistically significant. Independent non-religious school graduates are much more likely to expect a job that gives opportunity to be directly helpful to others and to be worthwhile to society as well as to be creative. There is also some limited evidence that this group is looking for opportunities to make friends at work. On all other measures, including a job that pays well, their expectations are no different from those of government school graduates. Christian school graduates are strongly and significantly more likely to expect that their job will fulfill their religious calling. There is very limited evidence that Christian school graduates are interested in work that is helpful to others and that they would like a job that allows them to establish roots in the community, but the overall conclusion is that with the exception of a job that fulfills a religious calling there is no evidence that   Christians are distinct from government school graduates on any of the common work goals. Religious home-educated graduates strongly expect a job that allows for creativity, and that fulfills their religious calling. There is some limited evidence that they are interested in a job that pays well and that does not require moving. Perhaps surprisingly, they are significantly less likely to expect that their jobs allows opportunity to make friends.  In all other ways, the religious home-educated graduates are similar to government school graduates regarding job goals.

The most striking conclusion regarding work goals is the strong social and community orientation of independent non-religious graduates. As measured by  the values of these respondents, work goals are not entirely about self or even family interests but extend to concerns about the public good.  There is perhaps a slight orientation among Christian school graduates toward higher paying jobs, but the dominant conclusion here is that religious calling trumps other career goals.  In many cases, of course, religious callings are other-oriented and make important contributions to civic life. And note that a concern with religious callings at the very least mitigates against an entirely self-interested or instrumental approach to work life. Interestingly, religious home-educated graduates are oriented most strongly to creativity and religious calling. The religious calling is expected for this group,  but the importance of creativity perhaps displays one of the strengths of an education outside formal and often bureaucratic institutions.

Obligations and responsibilities to others in workplace setting

Besides work goals, we asked respondents about their obligations to their employer as well as their ethical obligations in the workplace. Specifically, we asked in separate questions if respondents thought they had an obligation to actively work to make sure that the policies and practices of a business or employer were fair and just; an obligation to make sure colleagues behave ethically; and an obligation to work hard and efficiently for an employer, even if personal relationships at work suffer a bit.

Separate Catholic school graduates are somewhat lower on support for each of these, though they are most distinctive from government schoolers in disagreeing that they should work hard and efficiently for an employer even if relationships suffer a bit. Independent Catholic school graduates appear to be more likely to support an obligation to make sure others are ethical at work, though the overall conclusion is that these graduates are no different from government school graduates on support for these three claims. With the exception of Catholic school graduates supporting relationships overworking efficiently, both Catholic school sectors appear to be very similar to government school graduates on these indicators of ethical behaviour.

Independent non-religious school graduates tend to have a stronger sense of ethical obligation in the workplace. Though they are no different from government schoolers on their level of support for working hard and efficiently, they are more likely to agree that they have an obligation to ensure that others are ethical and they are even more consistent in their agreement that they have an obligation to ensure that their employer’s policies are just.

Christian school graduates appear to be more supportive of these statements than government school graduates, especially regarding a concern for the ethics of others at work and the obligation to work hard. But these effects are not statistically significant. Perhaps surprisingly, Christian school graduates are not more or less likely to say that they have an obligation to promote justice in the workplace.

Religious home-educated graduates have a rather surprising pattern of results. Compared to government school graduates, they are somewhat less concerned about the ethics of their fellow workers, though this is a small and inconsistent relationship. They are concerned about issues of justice in the workplace, but again this is not significant. Yet these graduates are very concerned that they work hard and efficiently for their employer. The relative lack of concern for relationships at work perhaps reflects a relationship focus within existing family, church, and community circles.

Political Engagement

Religious or moral obligation to participate in politics

Besides actual practices, we asked about attitudes to- ward political involvement. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that they have a religious or moral obligation to participate in politics. shown in Figure 10, the highest level of agreement was found among the independent non-religious graduates. Christian graduates were right behind them, consistently supporting a political obligation. The religious home-educated respondents were similar in support for political engagement, but the results were not statistically different from the public school comparison group. Interestingly, the independent Catholic  schoolers were significantly less likely to sense a personal obligation than their government school counterparts. Separate Catholic school graduates are statistically the same as government school graduates on this outcome.

Politically Informed

An informed citizenry is considered essential for a healthy democracy. Our survey included multiple measures of how graduates gain political information from multiple sources. Respondents were asked the extent of political   information  they  received   from  each of the following sources: radio, television, paper newspapers, magazines, internet news sites, and internet blogs.

Neither Catholic sector is distinct from the government school sector on these measures, though there is some limited evidence that separate Catholic school graduates gain slightly less information from the internet and independent Catholics gain less through television and magazines. The major story in these results is that independent non-religious schoolers and government schoolers report   receiving  higher  levels   of political information in almost every category we measured. Independent non-religious school graduates are particularly likely to gain political information on newspapers and magazines. Christian school graduates tend tobe lower on political information across the media sources, and especially lower than government school graduates  on  political   information  gained  through    the internet. Religious  home-educated   graduates  are less likely than government school graduates to gain political information from newspapers and television. Overall, when information from all sources is summed (Figure 11), only independent non-religious graduates are more likely than government school graduates to have higher levels of political information across all sources. This very strongly positive effect is matched by the negative effect for Christian schools. Independent Catholic school graduates trend strongly negative, but are not statistically significant after family background

is controlled. Religious home education is strongly negatively associated with political information across all sources;  although  this   effect  remains  large, it is not statistically significant after family background is controlled.

A tentative conclusion of this analysis is that Christian school  and   religious   home-educated  graduates are less likely than their government school peers to be politically informed, that they may not be thinking through political issues as deeply as the government school graduates and perhaps are more superficially involved politically. On the one hand, this is  not   desirable from a civic perspective; on the other hand, the finding also counters the perception that graduates of non-government religious schools are highly politicized. Only graduates of independent non-religious schools appear to be more politically informed than government school graduates. Keep in mind that it is possible that graduates of the religious sectors are getting their political information through other sources, such as religious community or family. The findings may indicate that religious school graduates are simply disinclined to rely on standard media sources for such information. Additional information on conversations about politics may clarify this.

Conversations about Politics

So even though they may not be gaining political information through the media at the same rate as their government school peers, are graduates, nevertheless, talking about politics at work, with friends, with family, with their worship community, or on internet sites? For the most part, the answer would seem to be “No.” Both separate Catholic and independent Catholic school graduates report a lesser level of political conversation with family, at work or with friends, or on the internet.

Christian school graduates tend to be negatively related to political conversations across all settings, but again these effects are generally small and not statistically significant.  One   striking  difference  is   the much higher level of political conversation that Christian school graduates have in their churches compared to government school graduates. Interestingly, however, this difference is essentially zero after controlling for the higher levels of religiosity of these graduates. Compared to the Christian school findings, the graduates of religious home education are very similar to government school graduates on political conversation measures. 

Interestingly, however, there is some evidence that religious home-educated graduates talk more with family about politics. There is also strong evidence that they talk more about politics in their churches, but this is not significantly different from government school graduates after controlling for religiosity differences.

Overall,  the school effect on political conversations for  graduates of religious schools trends negative but does vary across  Christian school and religious home education.  And both Catholic school   sectors show the strongest negative school effects on political conversation.The findings for Christian school graduates appear to reinforce the slight tendency toward political disengagement found earlier, being consistent with their disinclination to gain political knowledge through the media.

Political Action

Beyond being informed and discussing politics, how politically active are graduates from different school sectors? We asked specific questions about whether respondents had campaigned for political parties or candidates, boycotted services or products due to the social or political views of a company, or participated in  a protest, march, or demonstration.

Separate Catholic school graduates are less likely than government school graduates to do any of the three, although as seen in Figure 12, the most strong and consistent finding is that they are much less likely to participate in a political campaign. A strong negative school effect for campaigning is also evident for independent  Catholic  school   graduates,   though   there is no difference between these and government school

graduates on the other measures. Independent non- religious school graduates are significantly more likely  to participate in protests and appear to be more likely  to participate in political campaigns as well. They  are no different than government school graduates on participating in a boycott. Christian  school   graduates  do not show clear differences from government school graduates on these measures, although  there   appears to be a slightly lower probability of participating in protests. Religious home-educated graduates appear to be more likely to campaign and boycott,  though   they are the same as government school graduates in their likelihood of participating in protests.

Taken  together,   non-government  school   graduates are not overwhelmingly more politically active than government school   graduates,  although  graduates from independent non-religious schools show a more consistent proclivity for political engagement  along with religious home-educated graduates. Separate Catholic school graduates and  Christian  school graduates appear to be less involved in these forms of political participation.

In  sum,  in   terms  of   their    political   engagement, while three school sectors claim significantly more religious or moral obligation to participate politically (independent non-religious, Christian,  and  religious home educated), only the graduates of independent non-religious schools demonstrate behaviours strongly consistent with this value. In general, they are informed, they talk   about  politics,  and   they  are  politically   active.   While   religious   home-educated    graduates also demonstrate positive tendencies to be politically engaged,   overall  the  Christian  school    graduate appears  to  have   slightly  less   political    information,  to be less inclined to discuss politics, and less   likely  than the government school graduate to be actively involved politically. This  is   in  contrast  to   their  value of feeling an obligation to do so. The separate Catholic sector graduate is, overall, rather similar in political engagement to the government school graduate, while the independent Catholic  school  graduate   appears  to  be less politically engaged. Still, these latter two groups did not report that they felt a distinct obligation to be politically engaged.

Social Connectedness

The data show that religious home-educated graduates  appear    to   be   more    socially   connected   to elected officials, corporation executives, and community leaders than the other graduate groups.  Only those in the religious home education category trend positively on each measure. These graduates are over 1.7 times more likely to know an elected official than  are   graduates  of  government   school,  though  this is not quite statistically significant. They are also much more likely to know a CEO and a community leader than are government school graduates. The independent non-religious graduates trend positive, especially on knowing an elected official  and  a   CEO,  but these effects are not statistically significant. Both Catholic  sectors  tend   to  be  negatively   related  to   these outcomes. For the separate Catholic sector, the strongest negative relationship is with the measure for knowing a CEO. The independent Catholic  schooler  is less likely to know any of the leaders, but is particularly less likely to know an elected official than government school graduates. Christian school graduates tended to be very similar to government school graduates, with the exception that Christian school graduates appear to be more likely to know community leaders.

The religious home-educated respondents are the only group that is distinctive on these measures, having more of this type of social capital. Independent non-religious graduates are surprisingly not very different from government school graduates on social connectedness. The consistency of the negative effects for both Catholic sectors is also somewhat unexpected, though not all of these relationships are strong and consistent.

Reading, Fine Arts, and Cross-Cultural Engagement

Reading

Respondents were asked about reading activity involving newspapers, (non-religious) books, the Bible, and other religious  books.   Separate  Catholic   school  graduates are similar to government school graduates on the extent of reading newspapers. They tend to be lower than government school graduates in the other areas, though these are not statistically significant differences.

Independent  Catholic   school  graduates  are   slightly more likely to read newspapers but this finding is not statistically significant. They are similar to government school graduates  in   reading  non-religious  literature and trend negative in the other areas. Independent non-religious  school   graduates  are  much   more  likely  to read non-religious literature and trend positive on reading newspapers. The independent non-religious graduates are similar to government school graduates in reading the Bible and religious books. Christian school graduates are similar to government   school  graduates in reading a newspaper and trend positive on reading non-religious literature. They are strikingly high on reading the Bible and other religious literature even  after controlling for family background differences. Religious home-educated graduates are much less likely than government school graduates to read a newspaper. As with the Christian school graduates, they are very likely to read the Bible and religious books. They appear to be slightly more likely to read non-religious literature than government school graduates, but this effect is not statistically significant.

Arts Activities

Respondents were asked about participation in arts and cultural activities including how often they played a musical instrument, participated in a choir or singing group, attended a live concert or opera, and  made  an arts or craft object. Separate Catholic school graduates were like government school graduates in most respects although they were less likely to participate in a choir    or singing group and appear to be slightly less involved in music and arts and   crafts.  Independent  Catholic school graduates are generally similar to government school graduates though there is some limited evidence that they are less likely to play a  musical   instrument, and more likely to sing in choir or group. Independent non-religious school graduates appear to be more likely to be engaged in all four arts and cultural activities compared to the government school graduate, though musical  involvement and concert attendance are most clearly distinct from government  school graduates. Christian school graduates are   much  more  likely   to  sing in a  choir   or  group,  but   are  less  likely   to  attend a live concert or opera. They also appear slightly less likely to make an arts or craft object, but are similar to government school graduates on involvement in music. These findings seem reasonable given that Christian schools are likely to continue the Protestant tradition of choral singing, even while resource constraints leadto less emphasis on activities such as playing a musical instrument. Religious home-educated graduates are significantly more likely to play a musical  instrument and sing in a choir or group. They also appear to be slightly more likely to make an arts or craft object and they are similar to government school graduates on concert attendance.

Cross-Cultural Engagement

If Wuthnow (2006) is correct in his claim that overseas service trips,including missions with a religious emphasis, have a positive civic impact on the participant, then the international experiences of graduates of especially several sectors of non-government schools   suggests good preparation for ongoing participation in civic society. As Figure 13 shows, separate Catholic school graduates, independent Catholic school graduates, and independent non-religious school graduates are as likely as government school graduates to have participated in mission or service trips. Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates, on the other hand, are significantly more likely than government school graduates to have done so. While the school effect is strong for Christian school graduates it  does   not  hold for religious home education after controlling for family background variables. As adults these two groups are also more likely to have participated in a mission or service trip since being out of secondary school and, as an adult, to have participated in a mission or service trip outside of North America, although again the religious home education effect doesn’t hold when controlled for family background variables.

Clearly, the Christian schooling experience institutionalizes and motivates the kind of international experience that may have other benefits for graduates in an increasingly global world. Christian school respondents report that 87% of the mission and social-service trips they participated in included at least some relief and development work, which may further the impact of the trips in generating concern for poverty and human rights issues on a global scale. Quite possibly these experiences have the potential to increase interest in international human rights or poverty issues.

Attitudes, Preferences, and Views

Trust

A strong civic sphere depends on the level of social trust. Our survey respondents were asked about their level of trust in various groups of people and institutions.

The first set of questions involves general trust, and includes neighbours, congregants, work colleagues, and strangers. Separate Catholic school graduates show a level of general trust in all groups that is similar to that of government school graduates. Independent Catholic school graduates are more trusting of neighbours, but similar to government school graduates on all other measures of general trust. Independent non-religious school graduates are the   most  trusting  of   all  sectors as they are more likely to trust people in general, co- workers, and strangers. Christian school graduates are very much more likely to trust their neighbour and people in their own religious congregation than are government school graduates. They are less likely to trust strangers, and there is very limited evidence that they are less trusting of co-workers and people in gen- eral, but these differences are not statistically signifi- cant. Other than higher trust in congregation members, religious home-educated graduates are statistically similar to the government school graduates. However, their trend across the general trust measures is negative if  not significant,  especially for trust in people in general.

The second set of questions involves trust in specific in- stitutions or groups, including the federal government, media, public school teachers and administrators, scientists, and atheists. Again, the separate Catholic school graduates are very similar to the government school graduates on trust in each of these. The independent Catholic graduates are also very similar to the government school graduates after adding controls, though we detect slight tendencies toward greater trust in the federal government, the media, and scientists. Interestingly, these graduates are no different from government school graduates on trust in government school teachers and atheists. The independent non- religious school graduates tend to be more trusting of each group and institution, though they are particularly distinct in their higher levels of trust in the media and scientists. Christian school graduates are less trust- ing of government school personnel, scientists, and atheists. There is small but insignificant negative effect on trust in media and small but insignificant positive effect on trust in the federal government. The religious home-educated respondents are very much less trust- ing of government school personnel and scientists compared to government school graduates, while also distrusting atheists. They are identical to Christian school graduates on trust in media and the federal gov- ernment. The distrust of media by the last two groups  is consistent with the earlier reported  finding   that  they are disinclined to get their political information from the media. It might also be rather  ironic   that  these two groups are suspicious of scientists yet claim   a significantly stronger environmental stewardship obligation than the other groups. Overall, the distrust conveyed by these last two groups is also consistent with their sense that they are living in an  environment hostile to Christian faith, as will be reported in a later section.

Confidence

Similar to the trust measures, respondents were asked about their level of confidence in the leaders of various groups and institutions (such as in organized religion, education, Canada’s prime minister and federal cab- inet, federal parliament, the Supreme Court of Canada, organized labour / unions, press and media, TV, medi- cine, the scientific community, major companies, banks and financial institutions, and the Canadian Armed Forces).

Separate Catholic school graduates again showed great similarity to government school graduates, although they were more inclined to have confidence in the prime minister and are very much more likely to have confidence in organized labour / unions. Independent Catholic school graduates show generally equal or slightly higher levels of confidence in all of  the   institutions and groups compared to government school graduates. They are distinctive in claiming greater confidence in the federal parliament. Independent non-religious school graduates generally have more confidence in all institu- tions and groups than government school graduates. They are significantly more likely to have confidence in the federal parliament, the Supreme Court, organized labour / unions, the press and media, medicine and the scientific community, banks and financial institutions. This tendency toward confidence in much of society’s establishment institutions mirrors their proclivity to trusting others, and perhaps indicates their ability to influence these organizations and institutions. 

Christian school graduates have a much more  mixed  level of trust in these groups and institutions.  On  the one hand, they show higher levels of confidence in religious institutions and the prime minister. But they show less confidence than government school gradu- ates in the people running educational institutions, the Supreme Court, and the scientific community. Other than these solid findings, they   show  a  slight   tendency to have confidence in major companies, banks, and federal parliament. This gives evidence that although they may like the current government, they nevertheless feel disengagement and perhaps a sense of powerless- ness to potentially influence Canada’s major institutions. Religious home-educated graduates are strikingly more likely than government school graduates to have confidence in the prime minister and cabinet, and very much less likely to have confidence in educational institutions, television, and the scientific community. They  have a tendency (not    statistically significant) to have greater confidence than government school graduates in religious institutions, banks, the Armed Forces, and the federal parliament, and slightly less confidence in the Supreme Court, media, medicine, and major companies.

Political views

Respondents were asked for current political views  with respect to government involvement in social issues, environmental waste, international security, national economic wellbeing, and health care. An important finding (Figure 14) may be that  separate  Catholic school,  independent  Catholic  school,   and  Christian school graduates are as likely as government school graduates to claim that the federal government should do more to solve social problems, while independent non-religious graduates are somewhat less likely  to claim that governments should do more. Compared to government school graduates, religious home-educated graduates say that the government should do less, but this effect is not statistically significant after controlling for family background variables.

Independent  Catholic   school   graduates   and independent non-religious school graduates are more likely to hold that government should do more to encourage less waste, while Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates believe the government should do less. The differences with the government   school   graduates   are    substantial,   but are not statistically significant when controlling for family  background   characteristics.  Most  groups,  except religious home-educated graduates, are trending toward equal or more government involvement with respect to international security than are government school graduates. For  example,  most   are  equal  or   more  likely  than   government  school  graduates   to  hold that identity cards should be issued to help fight against terrorism. The most distinctive on this measure, however, are the independent non-religious school graduates, since the other effects are not statistically significant after controls. Yet, almost all groups, except separate  Catholic    school   graduates,   hold    that   when it comes to  economic   wellbeing  the  private   sector  is  to be trusted more than government. The strongest  effect is for the Christian school graduates, while the other sectors are very similar and not statistically significantly different from the government school comparison group.

Still, most groups are as likely as government school graduates to hold that business prosperity means  general prosperity, with only the independent non- religious school graduates being very strongly and significantly more likely to hold this political view. In terms of access to privately provided health care, the independent non-religious school graduate and religious home-educated graduate are much more likely to affirm their approval for a two-tier health   care  system  than are government school  graduates.   Separate  Catholic and Christian school graduates are not significantly different from government school graduates on this measure, and independent Catholic school graduates trend slightly in favour but are not statistically significant.

Thus, on almost all of these measures of government involvement except for health care, although they appreciate the role of the private  sector   and  of  business prosperity, the independent non-religious school graduate is most likely to claim the need  for  more government intervention, while the religious home-educated graduate is more likely to call for less intervention. The other groups, while showing strong appreciation for the private sector, are generally similar to the government school graduate in calls for government intervention especially in terms of security and environment. Still, taken all together, the non-government graduate is more conservative in his or her views of government involvement, and places more confidence in the private sector especially when it comes to economic wellbeing than does the government school graduate.

Obligation to care for the environment

A sense of moral or religious obligation to care for the environment is very strong among the Christian school and religious home-educated graduates,  as shown in Figure 15. The independent non-religious graduates are much more likely than government school graduates to report that they participate in the environmental movement, even after accounting for family background differences (Figure 16). Both Catholic school sectors are positive on environmental movement participation,  though the school effects are small and insignificant. Also insignificant is the slight tendency for Christian school and religious home-educated respondents to participate in the environmental movement. These differences are similar when considering whether respondents identify as environmentalist. Independent non-religious graduates are more likely to identify as environmentalists,

though this is not statistically significant after family background differences are considered. Christian school and religious home-educated graduates are strongly negative on an environmentalist identity, which may reflect both a sense that the environmental identity is favoured by secular Canadians, and an unwillingness to connect with identities that are not explicitly religious.

We also asked whether respondents took actions designed to protect the environment, such as various forms of recycling and purchasing more environment- friendly products. When we add all of these reported actions together, there are no significant differences between government school graduates and those from other school sectors. There is a small trend among religious home-educated graduates toward fewer environmentally friendly actions. When we focus exclusively on recycling, we find similar results.

Overall,  then, we find some differences in a sense of obligation to the environment, which favour the Christian school and religious home education sectors, and in commitment to participating in the environmental movement, which is more likely among independent non-religious school graduates. Besides those, the differences between school sectors on the environment are very limited. 

Satisfaction with life

While most groups of graduates are on average as likely to claim that they have much in life to be thankful for as would government school graduates, as indicated in Figure 17, the Christian school effect is very strong with its graduates being much more likely to claim that they have much to be thankful for. Most sectors are also equally likely to claim to feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life as would government school graduates. Still, as shown in Figure 18, graduates of independent non-religious schools would be slightly less likely to make such a claim. Graduates of Christian schools are significantly and strongly less likely to make the claim—they do not feel helpless. There is a small but insignificant relationship between graduates of religious home education and feeling helpless in dealing with the problems of life. This pattern is rather repeated for claims that one’s life often seems to lack any clear goals or sense of direction. That is, neither Catholic sector differs from government school graduates, independent non-religious school graduates are slightly less likely to make the claim, Christian school graduates are much less likely to make the claim—although family background differences appear to erase the strong significant difference—and religious home-educated graduates are slightly more likely to make this claim, though this effect appears to be entirely explained by family background differences. Thus, overall, the Christian school graduates are the most likely of all groups to feel thankful, capable, and goal-oriented.

Graduates derive satisfaction from various aspects of their life such as family, friends, non-working activities, place of residence, and health. All groups except one, after controls are considered, are as likely to claim satisfaction from family life: although independent Catholic and Christian school graduates are trending positive on this measure, only graduates of religious home educa- tion are less likely to claim current satisfaction from their family life. Are their expectations unusually high? Are they disappointed in some way by the claims for improved family life through home education? Current

satisfaction from friendships is higher for graduates of Christian schools, although this appears to be ac- counted for by family background differences. All other groups are essentially the same as for the government school graduate. Independent Catholic school graduates are more likely to claim satisfaction from the city or place in which they currently live, though this appears to be accounted for by family background differences. The religious home-educated graduate is significantly less likely to make this claim. All other groups are similar to government school graduates in their satisfaction from the place in which they live. All groups are as likely to claim satisfaction from their non-working activities and hobbies as are government school graduates. Religious home-educated graduates are more likely to claim dissatisfaction with their health and physical condition than any other group,  though this appears to be accounted for by family background characteristics. The rest of the groups are as likely as government school graduates to claim satisfaction from their health and physical condition. Thus the life satisfaction of all groups of graduates seems secure and rather in line with that of government school graduates, although perhaps a little less so for religious home-educated graduates. Certainly life satisfaction, although secure for Canadian Christian school graduates, is less robust than that claimed by graduates of Christian school graduates in the United States (Cardus, 2011).

Risk-taking and early product and service adoption 

Graduates of Christian schools and of religious home education are more likely to conform than their peers, though this seems to be accounted for by family background differences. Only graduates of independent non-religious schools are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour. All of the graduate groups studied are as likely as government school graduates to be  early product and service adopters. There is a slight tendency for religious home-educated respondents not to be early adopters, but this is accounted for by family background differences. In general, graduates of all sectors studied are neither risk-takers nor early adopters.

Social / Cultural Preparation

Respondents were asked how well their secondary school prepared them for interacting with society and culture around them. The dramatic distinctions between the claims are noted in Figure 19. Separate Catholic school graduates, independent Catholic school graduates, and Christian school graduates are similar to government school graduates in their reflections on how well their secondary school prepared them for social and cultural participation. In contrast, both the independent non-religious school graduates and religious home-educated graduates were significantly more likely to claim that their secondary school prepared them well to interact with society and culture.

Conclusions for Cultural, Economic, and Social Engagement

  1. Graduates of non-government schools (religious and non-religious) tend to be equally or more involved in politics and culture than are government school graduates.
  2. Politically, graduates of independent non-religious schools feel more obliged to participate, and then act on that obligation by being more involved in political campaigns.
  3. Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates also feel a high sense of obligation for political involvement; however, their actual involvement is about as much as that of government school graduates, quite possibly because both their families and their churches occupy more of their time.
  4. The reason why independent Catholic graduates feel less obliged and participate less politically than government school graduates is more difficult to explain.
  5. Except for the independent non-religious school graduates, non-government school graduates get less political information from the media, perhaps because they also show less trust in the media.
  6. Involvement in cultural activities seems to be shaped by the community context of the graduates. Thus Christian school graduates have a greater involvement in choirs, while independent non- religious school graduates attend concerts and the opera more frequently. 
  7. All non-government school sectors except the Catholic sectors read more than their government school peers; however, independent non-religious school graduates lean toward reading more newspapers and non-religious books, while Christian school graduates read more religious literature.
  8. Because of overseas “mission” or “development” trips, Christian school graduates have had much more cross-cultural experiences than graduates of other schools.
  9.  Christian school and religious home-educated graduates are notably more likely to feel obligated to care for the environment, but only the independent non-religious school graduates are significantly more environmentally active than their government school peers.
  10. Independent non-religious school graduates are most inclined to trust and have confidence in society’s established structures and institutions.
  11. Separate Catholic graduates stand out because of their trust in labour unions. 
  12. Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates show more confidence in corporations and the federal government,  but less in the institutions of the federal government, the Supreme Court, the media, and the scientific community. This ties in with their perception that the overall social and political environment in Canada is hostile to Christian beliefs.
  13. At the same time, except for the independent non-religious school graduates, all non-government school graduates feel that the government should do more to solve social problems.
  14. Graduates of Christian schools are more likely than any other group to feel thankful for their current life circumstances, to feel capable of dealing with life, and to consider themselves goal-oriented. However, they are less likely to be risk-takers and more likely to conform.
  15. Thus, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, it is the independent non-religious school graduates and religious home-educated graduates who feel most prepared to be culturally involved.

Academic Achievement 

Are Canadian non-government schools producing students who are skilled, knowledgeable, informed? Are graduates prepared to lead personally fulfilling lives? Will they contribute to the economic prosperity of society? Educational attainment is a key contributor to such fulfillment and contribution.

Educational Attainment

Years of Education

Only two groups of graduates studied are likely to attain more years of education than the government school graduate, after controlling for family background variables: independent Catholic school graduates and independent non-religious school graduates are likely to attain more years of schooling overall. As Figure 20 shows, the average increase in years of education for attending an  independent non-religious school is one additional year, and for attending an independent Catholic school is more than an additional half year compared to government school graduates. Catholic school  graduates are statistically likely to complete the same number of years of education as the government school graduate. After controlling for family background variables, both religious home-educated graduates and Christian school graduates complete, on average, a half year less of schooling than government school graduates. However, neither of these effects is statistically significant. One might expect that the lower levels of education for these groups would be explained by the likelihood that they establish families at younger ages, but results not shown reveal that the difference between the government school graduates and each of these groups is statistically significant after adding additional controls for various religion and marriage and family variables.

Highest level of education

In terms of highest level of education attained, independent Catholic school graduates and independent non-religious graduates are most likely to attain the highest level of education. Separate Catholic school graduates and Christian school graduates are likely to achieve the same level of education as government school graduates,  and government school graduates are significantly more likely to achieve a higher level of education than are religious home-educated graduates.

Likelihood of university degree be- ing the highest degree attained

The next analysis considered the odds that respondents achieved a given level of education relative to achieving a university degree.

In the contrast between high school degree and university degree, we find that the odds that a religious home-educated respondent remains a high school graduate rather than a university graduate is more likely and significant compared to government school graduates. Separate Catholic school graduates are equally as likely as government school graduates to have their highest degree be high school rather than university. As shown in Figure 21, graduates of independent Catholic and independent non-religious schools, compared to government school graduates, are more likely to have a university degree as their highest level of education rather than a high school diploma.

The likelihood of a college education being the highest education completed compared to a university degree is positive for both Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates. It is less likely for the independent non-religious school graduate and equally as likely for graduates in both Catholic sectors.

The likelihood of a master’s degree being the highest de- gree completed compared to a university undergraduate degree is significantly positive for independent Catholic school graduates and trends positive for  Christian school graduates and independent non-religious school graduates while trending slightly negative for separate Catholic school graduates, when controlled for family background. See Figure 22. The trend for religious home-educated graduates is negative on achieving a master’s degree over a university degree compared to government school graduates, but this is not statistically significant.

The likelihood of a Ph.D. or professional graduate degree being the highest degree completed compared to a university degree is significantly positive for the separate Catholic school graduate, strongly positive for the independent non-religious graduate, and very strongly positive for the religious home-educated graduate, with either degree, as shown in Figure 23, being an equally likely highest degree for the independent Catholic school and Christian school graduate.

These data, taken together, indicate bimodal results. For example, the Christian school graduate seems more likely to attain only a secondary school or college diploma,  or alternatively to attain a master’s degree. The religious home-educated graduate seems more likely to attain a secondary school or a college diploma, or alternatively to attain a Ph.D. This suggests that if students in these two sectors do decide to go to  university,  they “go all the way.” There may be a tendency for some of these school sectors to focus on the utility of their degree, and only finish when they have attained sufficient employment credentialing. The primary explanation may also be that there are wide variations within each of these sectors in opportunities for and commitment to attaining higher education degrees. The independent non-religious school graduate gives solid evidence of attaining at least a university degree, but also of being more likely to prepare for influence through attaining the highest levels of degrees as well. 

Evaluation of Secondary Experience

Respondents were asked to evaluate their secondary school experience in general, and to evaluate specific aspects such as the social scene, the other students, the teachers, the administrators, the athletic opportunities, the quality of education received, and the way the school handled religious and spiritual matters.

Overall the graduates of independent non-religious schools are significantly more likely to positively evaluate their secondary school experience in general. All other graduates, although trending more positive, once controls were applied, were as likely as government school graduates to positively evaluate their experience in general.

With respect to the specific points of evaluation listed above, separate Catholic school graduates on

all measures have evaluations similar to government school graduates. Independent Catholic school graduates more highly evaluate the quality of education received (as shown in Figure 24), and are trending positively on evaluations of the other students, the teachers, and the athletic opportunities. In all other ways their evaluations are similar to those of government school graduates. Independent non-religious school graduates give higher evaluations in all categories, and give especially high evaluations on the quality of education, the social scene, the administration, and the students. Christian school graduates give significantly higher evaluations of their peers, of school administrators, of athletic opportunities, of the quality of education received, and of the way the school dealt with religious matters. The religious home-educated graduates show appreciation for the administration of their home education and for the way religious matters were handled, and trend positive on all other measures except athletic opportunities. All other evaluations are similar to those of the government school graduate.

Respondents were also asked how close-knit their school was, whether the students got along with one another, if the teachers cared about the students, if they enjoyed going to their secondary school, if they were proud to have graduated from their school, if the rules were too strict, and if (see Figure 25) the school was too sheltering. With respect to the seven points listed, on all measures but the strictness of their school and the extent to which the school was too sheltering, separate Catholic school graduates give evaluations no different from those given by government school graduates. They do show a slight trend toward saying their school was close-knit. Independent Catholic school graduates are significantly more likely than government school graduates to agree that their school was close-knit, students got along, teachers cared, but the rules were too strict, and the school too sheltering. They also show a slight trend toward agreeing that they enjoyed and are proud of their school. Independent non-religious graduates are significantly more likely to agree with all seven of the measures. Compared to government school graduates, they are especially likely to report much higher levels of closeness and teacher caring at their school, as well as finding the school too sheltering. Christian school graduates are significantly more likely to agree with all statements except those about enjoy- ing the school and being proud of it, which were positive but not significant or particularly strong. They are strikingly high on the measure of school closeness, and very high on students getting along,  teachers caring,  as well as the extent of strictness and being overly-sheltered. The questions are not especially tailored to the experience of religious home-educated graduates, although it may be important to note that  they   are more likely than the government school graduate to claim their schooling was too sheltering. We note also that despite or because of—depending on your perspective—the fact that religious home-educated graduates were most likely reporting on their mother and siblings, they tended to be more positive about school closeness, student togetherness, and teacher care.

Respondents were also asked to evaluate how well their schools prepared them for academic success in university, for success in a job or career, for dealing with personal relationships (Figure 26), and for a vibrant religious or spiritual life (Figure 27). While graduates from all five sectors are significantly more likely than government school graduates to evaluate their secondary school experience as preparing them for a vibrant

religious or spiritual life, Christian school graduates are most likely to have positive views of how well their schools prepared them in this regard, with religious home-educated graduates and independent Catholic school graduates close behind. The sectors did differ a little on the other three measures. On the measures of preparation for academic, career, and relational success, the responses of the separate Catholic school graduates did not differ from those of the government school graduate, though they did trend positive on all three. The independent Catholic school graduates give higher marks than the government school graduates on job and university preparation, but are very similar on the relational measure. Christian school graduates are more likely to evaluate their schools highly on job, academic, and relationship preparation. Graduates of religious home education, while trending positive on all three, are rather more like their government school counterparts in their evaluations of these measures.

Conclusions for Academic Achievement

  1. Graduates of just two of the sectors studied— independent Catholic schools and independent non-religious schools—attain more years of education than government school graduates.
  2. While Christian school graduates attain similar or slightly fewer years of education as government school graduates, religious home-educated graduates, on average, complete fewer years of education.
  3. Separate Catholic school graduate educational attainment is rather spread over high school, college, university undergraduate, and master’s level degrees, although it is more likely that a Ph.D. (or equivalent) would be their highest degree rather than a university undergraduate degree.
  4. Independent Catholic school graduates, when compared to government school graduates, are more likely to have a university degree than a high school diploma only; equally as likely to have a college diploma or a Ph.D. as an undergraduate degree; and more likely to have a master’s degree than an undergraduate university degree.
  5. Independent non-religious school graduates are more likely to have a university degree than a high school diploma or a college diploma, and more likely to have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. than an undergraduate university degree only. Thus, they are the group with the highest overall educational attainment in terms of levels of degrees.
  6. Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are more likely to have as their highest educational certification a college diploma rather than a university degree.
  7. Still, Christian school graduates are more likely to have a master’s degree than an undergraduate degree and religious home-educated graduates are more likely to have a Ph.D. or equivalent than only an undergraduate degree. Thus if students from these schools are on the university track, they have a higher likelihood than government school graduates of continuing on for a more advanced degree.
  8. Although all private sectors had concerns about their schools being too sheltering, this did not diminish their overall positive evaluations. The secondary schooling experience and the preparation for life it offered are most highly evaluated by graduates from independent non-religious schools.
  9. The Christian school graduates on most measures highly evaluated their experience and the preparation it offered, but did not report the same joy and pride in their schooling brand.
  10. The general findings for Catholic school graduates, once again, did not differ from that of the government school graduates.
  11. In general, even with fifteen or so years of hindsight, graduates of non-government schools evaluate their school cultures positively, claiming them to be close-knit and expressing a positive regard for teachers, students, and administrators, and reflect that they offered good preparation for later life. Why are non-government schools able to generate these results? Part of the answer may be the more homogeneous environments of these schools, but it is likely that an unusual ethic of care characterizes the school culture in many non-government schools.

Spiritual Formation and Religious Engagement

While government schools in  Canada aim for the outcome of a well-rounded citizen with a wide variety of desirable virtues and values, schools with a religious basis also intend to achieve not only these civic and personal virtues and values, but they also have aspirations to contribute to the religious development and/or spiritual formation of their students. Certainly Catholic schools also have aspirations for the religious formation of their students. This section probes the question of whether school effects exist for variables related to religious engagement outcomes in adulthood.

Religious Commitment

Graduates of separate Catholic schools, independent Catholic schools, and independent non-religious schools are no more likely to claim that religion plays an important role in their day-to-day lives than are government school graduates. Even after accounting for the higher levels of family religiosity among Christian school graduates, for example, some aspects of Christian schoolers’ current religiosity are significantly higher than government school graduates.

As Figure 28 shows, Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are significantly and much more likely to claim that religion plays an important role in their day-to-day lives. It may not be suprising that graduates of separate Catholic schools, independent Catholic schools, and independent non-religious schools are less likely than government school graduates to describe themselves as a born-again or evangelical Christian. Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are significantly more likely to do so. Those with a religious background that have a tendency to say that they are currently non-religious are less likely to be a graduate of the separate Catholic school or the Christian school. The effect is negative and very strong but slightly less consistent for graduates of religious home education.

We asked Catholic graduates if they have an obligation to accept the authority of the Church, and Protestants if they have an obligation to accept the authority of church leadership. Only the Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates feel more obligation to accept the authority of the church or of church leadership than do government school graduates. A school effect is also evident for Christian and religious home-educated graduates to claim a turning point when they committed to a religious tradition, to faith, or to God. In the case of Catholic schools, there is a school effect for graduates to claim a turning point when they became less committed to a religious tradition, to faith, or to God. After accounting for family background differences, all other graduates are no more likely than government school graduates to claim a point when they became less religiously committed. Christian and religious home-educated graduates are significantly less likely to have doubts about their religious beliefs. Independent non-religious school graduates are significantly more likely to have such doubts.  Catholic school graduates are higher on religious doubt, but this is not consistent after accounting for family controls.

Some of these findings are rather inconsistent with the earlier reported finding that all sectors studied claim that their secondary school prepared them very well for a vibrant religious or spiritual life. The apparent discrepancy may reflect differences in expectations for religious and spiritual life. Yet it may also indicate the very important role that Christian schools and religious home education play in the formation of 

faith in their graduates. Some will find the lack of overall religious and spiritual impact of Catholic schooling concerning.

Spiritual Strength

A number of indicators point to the spiritual strength and engagement of graduates. Only Christian and religious home-educated graduates are different from government school graduates in their claims that God is a personal being involved in their life, that “my spirituality gives a feeling of fulfillment,” that  “even when I experience problems, I can find spiritual peace within,” that “I try to strengthen my relationship with God,” that “I experience deep communion with   God,” and that “I  believe that  everything that happens to me, including suffering, is part of God’s plan for me.” The school effects for Christian schools and religious home education are substantial in almost all cases. The consistent lack of difference calls into question whether Catholic schools on average have any effect in contributing to the spiritual vitality of graduates. 

Furthermore, only Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are more likely than any other group to share their faith with others.  The school effect is strong for both sectors in terms of sharing their faith with friends or family, and is strong for Christian schools in terms of sharing their faith with acquaintances or strangers. It seems likely that Christian schools reinforce among their graduates the importance of communicating their faith to friends and strangers.

Views about Religion in the Public Sphere and Perceived Hostility

We asked respondents several questions about their view of the public square in Canada. In regard to views of free speech, we asked respondents the extent that they agreed that people should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to some religious groups. Catholic school graduates disagree more than government school graduates on this measure, in effect supporting restrictions on free speech. Graduates of the remaining sectors, including religious home education and Christian schools, are no different from government school graduates in their claims that people should be allowed to say things in public that are offensive to religious groups. 

Only Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are less likely than government school graduates to support a privatized view of religion. Instead, they have higher levels of agreement with the view that religion is not a private matter that should be kept out of public debates about political and social issues (see Figure 29). All other groups are no more likely than the  government school graduate to want to see religion included in political and social debates. The results may reflect cues and other forms of socialization within Christian and religious home education that religion is both discriminated against or ignored in the public sphere in a way that is both unfair and harmful to the public good.

When it comes to whether society should be more tolerant of non-Christian religions, the Christian school

graduate and religious home-educated graduate are not inclined to agree. All other sectors have views that are no different from that of the government school graduate. This may be explained by Figure 30, where Christian and religious home-educated graduates convey that they believe, and perhaps experience, that “the dominant culture in Canada is hostile   to my moral and spiritual values.”  No other sector   feels this hostility any differently than government graduates would. Thus there is a sense among these two sectors of graduates that perhaps there is already too much tolerance of other groups and perhaps too much intolerance of Christians and their views.  This is perhaps not surprising considering the media’s oft-negative portrayal of traditional Christian values, and modern society’s inclination to hold that tolerance means accepting all viewpoints as equally valid. What is surprising, however, is that even as Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates feel that the dominant culture is hostile to their beliefs and values, they nevertheless continue to participate, volunteer, donate, and contribute to society (as reported in an earlier section) at equal or greater rates than government school graduates. They appear to be committed to making a difference in the world and to contributing to the overall common good of society, despite feeling unwelcome. The unanswered question is whether they feel so strongly about this that they will continue to engage and offer of their time and resources in the future.

Religious Beliefs

When it comes to deciding right and wrong Christian school and religious home-educated graduates rely on the God and/or Bible to make decisions (Figure 31). The other school sectors are no different from the government school graduates in their tendency to rely on God or the Bible rather than doing what makes them happy or would improve their personal situation, or relying on friends, family, or other persons of authority. The separate Catholic school graduates are negatively related to deciding based on God or the Bible, but after family background controls are no different than public school graduates.

A strong school effect is also found for reinforcing orthodox beliefs for Christian school and religious home-educated graduates, as shown by their much higher levels of agreement (in comparison with government school graduates) with the statement that “there is no other way to salvation but through belief    in Jesus Christ.” Independent non-religious graduates have lower levels of agreement with this view than government school graduates. A school effect is again reflected in Christian school graduates’ belief that God created the world in six, 24-hour days. Religious home- educated graduates are also very high on this belief, but this appears to be due to their family background. Meanwhile, Catholic school graduates are negatively related to this literal creationist belief. Both Christian and religious home-educated graduates strongly support the view that the Bible is infallible in terms of science or history. Again the independent non-religious school graduates are less supportive of this view, while both Catholic sectors are similar to government school graduates. We find the same pattern for school sector variables regarding the infallibility of the Bible as a guide for personal faith and behaviour.

Spiritual Disciplines

Only the Christian and religious home-educated graduates claim an obligation to regularly practice spiritual disciplines such as praying and reading scripture (see Figure 32). Again, the school effect is consistent and strong for both of these sectors. Both groups are more likely to pray alone; to attend a small group dedicated to spiritual support, discipleship, or prayer; to read the Bible alone; and, as reported earlier, to read religious or spiritual literature not including the Bible.

Both groups are more likely to attend religious services than any other group, more likely to pray together with their families, and to read or study the Bible together with their families. Christian school graduates are more likely to eat together with their current families, though this effect is not consistently higher than government school graduates after family background controls are considered. It is difficult to explain the seemingly inconsistent finding that religious home-educated graduates are less likely to eat together with their families than any other group, but the school effect here is not statistically significant.

As reported in an earlier section of this report, Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are more likely to donate to and volunteer in their religious congregation and other religious causes. Thus in all, the school effect for improving the practice of a variety of spiritual disciplines is strong for Christian school graduates and for religious home-educated graduates. Besides some evidence of lower levels among Catholic school graduates, other school sectors are no different than government schools in their effect on spiritual disciplines.

Values and Views

Views on sexuality, marriage, abortion, and family life

Christian school and religious home-educated graduates are more likely to consider that divorce is morally wrong; to consider that living together before marriage is morally wrong (demonstrated in Figure 33, although 41% of them have at some point lived with a partner outside of marriage); to consider that sexual intercourse before marriage is morally wrong; and to consider that same-sex marriage is morally wrong (see Figure 34). While independent Catholic school graduates are slightly trending towards also holding these views, the differences from views held by government school graduates are not statistically significant. Separate Catholic school graduates show some small trends toward seeing these issues as morally acceptable, but differences with government school graduates are small and inconsistent.

Again, compared to the government school graduate, only the Christian school graduate and the religious home-educated graduate feel that unless a woman’s life is threatened, abortion should always be illegal. Graduates from these two groups hold traditional family values, and the school seems to reinforce this effect.

Views and beliefs related to science

Christian school graduates are not showing confidence in the idea that there will be more opportunities for the next generation because of science and technology.

Other groups are trending positively different from government school graduates in holding this claim, but overall there is no significant difference for the other sectors. Most sectors are similar to the government school sector in agreeing with the view that science and religion are inherently in conflict. The Christian school graduates tend not to see a  conflict here,  but this is explained by their family background. However, the religious home-educated respondents stand alone in being significantly more likely than government school graduates to disagree with the claim that science and religion are in conflict.

Both Christian school graduates and religious home-educated graduates are less likely than government school graduates to hold evolutionary views about the origins of humans, while graduates of independent Catholic schools and independent non-religious schools have much higher levels of support for this view than government school graduates. Separate Catholic school graduates have a smaller but significant positive effect on holding an evolutionary view compared to government school graduates.

 

Conclusions for Spiritual Formation and Religious Engagement

  1. Christian schools and religious home education seem very effective in contributing to the religious and spiritual formation of their graduates. By almost all measures and indicators, they were more effective than all other school sectors in doing so.
  2. Furthermore, if Reginald Bibby (Beyond the Gods and Back, 2011) and Paul Reed (”The Social Dynamics of Contributory Behaviours,” 2006) are correct that church and congregational involvement leads to positive organizational, community, and civic skill development, then these graduates have ample opportunities for developing skills for eventual participation and contribution in the civic core of society.
  3. Service in a church may be beneficial to the common good. It is often at the church level that people acquire    their first international experience in service and mission work. This too leads to the development of skills and knowledge that is applicable in the civic sphere.
  4. Graduates of Christian schools and of religious home education are grounded, contributing, faithful, diligent, conservative, and dependable. It seems likely that such citizens contribute to the peace, stability and flourishing of a society.
  5. The concern that the findings in this section may point toward is the fact that Catholic school graduates are not different from government school graduates in the solidity and practice of their faith.\

Findings (Quebec)

A comparison of the survey results of English-speaking Canada with those of the province of Quebec led the Cardus research team to conclude that Quebec culture and education differ so much from other regions of Canada that the Quebec survey results should be considered separately.

Responses from Quebec participants included 173 graduates of fully government-funded schools, including 22 who labelled their school as Catholic; 248 independent Catholic school graduates; and 67 independent non-religious school graduates. Even so, these categories are not perfectly comparable to those in similar categories for the rest of the Canadian respondents.

First, students obtain a Quebec high school diploma after successful completion of grade 11, not after grade 12.  More significantly, all government schools were officially either Catholic or Protestant until a 1997 change in Canada’s constitution made it possible for the Quebec government to officially deconfessionalize schools in 2000 and change the government schools to French- and English-speaking ones. While most government school graduates completing the survey therefore attended schools that were at least nominally religious, it was clear that the respondents had difficulty classifying their schools, with some designating them as Catholic, others as public, and still others as non-religious.

Quebec has the highest proportion of students going to private high schools in North America (17%). Most of these schools serve religious groups, and most of these are Catholic. The Quebec government subsidizes the schools on a per student basis, so that the tuition is about one-third of what it would be without such government funding. The socio-economic makeup of the students is not limited to professional and upper classes, with middle class parents often saving up to send their children to independent high schools. However, these schools do sculpt their enrollment both by charging tuition fees and by usually setting their own entrance exams. Within this independent group we could be reasonably sure of determining which graduates had attended Catholic independent schools (about half of the total sample of 500 Quebec students).  The number of graduates of independent non-religious schools was too small to draw any conclusions.

What the Cardus study was therefore able to do is compare the Quebec graduates who attended fully funded government schools with those who attended partially funded Catholic independent schools. Of those attending fully funded government schools, the majority, but not all, were students attending French-speaking schools that were officially Catholic in orientation when they attended. What did become clear when we analyzed the data is that the overall trends are more significant than the precise figures. We describe those trends in three categories below. For convenience, we will refer to the graduates as “government school” and “independent Catholic school” graduates.

  1. Educational satisfaction and attainment: Independent Catholic school graduates are more satisfied with their educational experience and the quality of education they received than are government school graduates, and they are prouder to have graduated from their school. While they feel that their schools sheltered them too much from the rest of the world with rules that were too strict, they also feel that their schools prepared them well for further education and for interacting with society and culture. They have completed more years of schooling, including more post-secondary education.
  2. Involvement in society: Independent Catholic graduates campaign more often for a political party or candidate, but take part somewhat less often in protests, marches, or demonstrations than do their government school counterparts. They volunteer less, perhaps because more are working full-time. In part since slightly more are employed as professionals and managers, their average household income is higher. They have considerably more confidence in corporations than in labour unions, even if more have voted for the New Democratic Party and fewer for the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservative Party than have government school graduates.
  3. Religious commitment and involvement: Graduates of independent Catholic schools are more satisfied with how their schools dealt with religious and spiritual matters, and believe that their schools have prepared them well for a vibrant religious life. Yet with respect to the role of religion in their lives, they differ little from government school graduates, whether that be with respect to attendance at religious services, prayer and reading religious literature, or involvement with a church or with groups that foster spiritual growth. They donate about as much to religious causes, but more to non-religious ones. They more frequently hold the view that there is an inherent conflict between religion and science.

Overall, these results point to some paradoxes. While independent Catholic schools officially exist in part to promote faith-based learning and living, the religious outcomes of the schools differ little from those of government schools. And while the former group of graduates believe that involvement in society and culture is important, they more often than government school graduates accept the status quo: they are solid workers, more often in leadership positions, and support political candidates, but are also somewhat skeptical both of the left-wing union movement in Quebec and of political demonstrations and protests. They have a high regard for their schools, which they believe have given them both a high quality education and a solid religious grounding. However, the religious influence of their schools has been no greater than that of government schools.

What is clear from these results is that Quebec’s independent Catholic schools prepare their students well for post-secondary education and future careers. But, have the schools disavowed their religious calling? Or does Quebec society at large inevitably influence students more than the schools can with respect to living a life of faith, especially for more educated persons? Do the schools emphasize their graduates’ fitting into the socio-economic status quo more than preparing students for leadership with respect to issues of economic justice and environmental stewardship?   Do the schools do enough to help graduates develop a moral and social conscience? Based on the results of the Quebec respondents to the Cardus survey, Quebec’s independent Catholic schools would do well to consider and examine such questions.

Comparing the Canadian and American Findings

We offer a brief comparison of Canadian findings pertaining to Christian graduates in this report with earlier (2011) findings for graduates of U.S. Christian schools, to provide some context for the current report.

On the whole, there are striking similarities across the   49th  parallel. Christian schools appear to generate a strong commitment to family, church, and faith formation. Graduates of these schools tend to be highly involved in their congregations, in mission trips, and in some forms of non-religious civic involvement. Their levels of civic involvement at least match the public school graduates even while their volunteering in religious contexts is higher. There are also strong parallels in terms of views on moral issues and a sense of embattlement within the surrounding society and culture.

The substantial similarities make the differences all the more striking. For example, in the U.S., there is a strong negative effect of Christian schooling on obtaining an advanced degree beyond the undergraduate degree, yet in Canada there is no such effect. Canadian Christian school graduates even show a stronger tendency to obtain a master’s degree than their government school counterparts. A second striking contrast is the level of political involvement across societies. Christian school graduates in the U.S. are very unlikely to be involved in political action, including political giving, volunteering, or protesting. They share with Canadian Christian school grads the view that they should be involved and that religion should not be simply a private, individual matter, but when compared to public school graduates, U.S. Christian school graduates are politically uninvolved. In contrast, Christian school graduates in Canada are just as likely as government school graduates to be involved in politics on nearly all measures. In terms of political views, Canadian Christians differ in their higher levels of support for government involvement, especially in regard to the environment. A third striking contrast is in acts of civic engagement such as volunteering. Canadian Christian schools have great effect on their graduates’ volunteering in activities outside of a religious congregation, while graduates of similar schools in the United States do not achieve this effect.

Continuing the Conversation

This research report, like the 2011 CES report, serves not as a conclusion but rather the commencement of a discussion. Much research remains to be done.

To be sure, many of these findings will challenge the aspirations of stakeholders in every sector. It is Cardus’ hope that from these data will emerge innovation and broader public conversations regarding government and non-government education. Leaders in every sector can learn both from their own results and from those of their partner sectors, and we trust that the shared conversations to follow will spur improvements for all when future outcomes are measured.

Cardus seeks to improve the space between individuals and governments (what we call “social architecture”), and few institutions have greater effect on this space than education systems.

Our research continues. Scholars interested in contributing may contact us through our website, www.carduseducationsurvey.com