ERIC Number: ED408702
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Peering over the Traditional Rim: A Story from Dayton Catholic Elementary.
Biddle, Julie K.
Catholic schools in the United States are engaged in a struggle to balance mission and market concerns. This paper presents a survey that explores the reasons why predominantly non-Catholic parents chose to send their children to a Catholic elementary school. The paper also examines the Catholic school's responsiveness to market forces as it attempts to preserve its mission. Dayton (Ohio) Catholic Elementary (DCE) is bordered on two sides by low-income neighborhoods. DCE faced multiple obstacles in the past two decades of changing religious make-up of the student body, changing racial mix, changing demographics of the neighborhood, and decreasing economic resources. Enrollment is 100 percent African American, almost 90 percent of whom are from non-Catholic families. Data were gathered through observation, formal and informal interviews, review of school documents, and a survey of parents. The survey elicited 49 responses, a 26 percent response rate. The findings show that Dayton Catholic Elementary is an example of a school that is distinctive without being exclusive. Parents' reasons for enrolling their children at DCE revolved around what they perceived to be the school's distinctive features: smaller class sizes, teacher interest in students, an emphasis on academic standards, discipline and order, attention to values, and the sense of community. The availability of tuition aid did not appear to be a motivating factor. In addition, the consistency between the school's mission and everyday classroom practice projected a powerful message to the school community. As urban Catholic elementary schools grapple with the market and mission of their schools, they must begin to peer over the "traditional rim." DCE realized its traditional mission by being sensitive to a new market; the school's responsiveness to family needs was a cornerstone of its distinctiveness. (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997).