THE EDUCATION OF AN URBAN MINORITY: Catholics in Chicago, 1833-1965 by James W. Sanders

THE EDUCATION OF AN URBAN MINORITY: Catholics in Chicago, 1833-1965

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A comprehensive study of the Catholic schools of Chicago that challenges their anti-intellectual image and lauds their willingness to accommodate culturally diverse populations. These parochial schools began traditionally, as a response to anti-Catholic sentiment in the public schools and as a way to instill Church doctrine on such controversial matters as sex education. More significantly, they enabled immigrants--Irish, Italian, German, Slavic--to resist Americanization pressures exerted in the public system and preserve their separate cultural identities. The beginnings were stormy, troubled by financial problems, ethnic discrimination, cultural separatism, and internecine struggles, until upward mobility altered parishes and Archbishop George Mundelein (1916) pressed for uniformity. Despite wavering fortunes during the Depression and periodic holy wars, the school system prospered until the 1960s when enrollment declined drastically, due to escalating costs, racial tensions, and most conspicuously, changes within the Church itself--modernized religious instruction and the high percentage of lay teachers. ""The more conventional (parents) began to find the Catholic school too liberal, while the more liberal found it unnecessary."" Sanders' carefully supports his case, although in alleging academic quality he fails to provide any indicators except a few standardized test scores. Concise and unadorned.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press