Catholic schools may better inculcate values of self-control in young children, a new study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests.
The study found that elementary-level Catholic-school students generally outperformed their peers when it came to self-control and acting out, indicating that Catholic schools' emphasis on "teaching the whole child" may be useful in encouraging students to self-discipline.
Disciplinary practices have become a point of contention in recent years. Many within the Obama Administration were concerned that disadvantaged students, especially those who are black or Latino, were being unfairly targeted for discipline in the public-school system.
The DOE issued a "Dear Colleague" letter in 2014 that indicated it would interpret a racially disparate impact of disciplinary action as discriminatory, even if there was no evidence of discriminatory intent. Subsequent analysis has cast doubt on the efficacy of this intervention.
The Fordham report suggests that educators may be able to sidestep this suspension debate entirely through an emphasis on self-discipline. "One thing seems certain," the report notes: "Self-discipline is far better than the externally imposed kind."