Protestant Christian School Graduates Excel in Giving, Prioritizing Family

Graduates of Christian schools are more likely to be generous, grateful, and optimistic and less likely to divorce compared to public school graduates, according to a recent study.

Cardus, a Christian think tank, conducted a study of K-12 Christian school graduates and administrators to examine the influence of Christian school education on graduates and society.

The Cardus Education Survey found that graduates of Christian schools, both Protestant and Catholic, donate more of their time and money (despite having lower income, on average) to community service than graduates of public schools and non-Christian private schools.

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Also, graduates of Protestant Christian schools ranked family of higher importance compared to graduates of Catholic, public, and non-Christian private schools. Demonstrating this emphasis on family, Protestant Christian school graduates were also found to have more children and a lower divorce rate.

Moreover, Protestant Christian school graduates displayed higher levels of gratitude, hope, and optimism about the future, than their counterparts.

Graduates of Protestant school did not place much emphasis, however, on intellectual development. Catholic and non-Christian private school graduates were more likely to attend college and attend more competitive colleges than Protestant and public school graduates. This reflects the different priorities expressed by Catholic and Protestant school administrators. Catholic school administrators were more likely to rank university attendance as their top priority while Protestant school administrators were more likely to rank family as their school's main emphasis.

Protestant school graduates also ranked the lowest on measures of political activism. They were slightly less likely to be engaged in politics, talk about politics, participate in political campaigns, and donate to political causes, even when controlling for other predictors of political activism, such as education.

In an interview, Ray Pennings, senior fellow and Director of Research for Cardus, said that Protestant school graduates tended to focus more on their local community, family, and churches, and had less of a “change the world mentality.”

Protestant school administrators, on the other hand, did not discourage political involvement, and frequently encouraged it. In the study's focus groups, there was a disconnect, however, between the curriculum and student engagement. Many of the political activities that were engaged in were initiated outside of the classroom through student groups and not effectively integrated into the school’s formal program, according to Pennings.

The study included surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The surveys were Knowledge Networks internet surveys conducted over two years by the University of Notre Dame and included approximately 1,000 Christian school graduates, and 500 non-Christian school graduates in the U.S. and Canada. Cardus will release the full report in August.

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