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View Diary: Morning Feature: What Are the Odds? (Meta-Monday) (105 comments)

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  •  You're mostly right. :) (1+ / 0-)
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    DBunn

    I use the qualifier "mostly," because until the early 1960s, most public schools were effectively Protestant schools; they began the day with the Lord's Prayer (the Protestant version), had the Ten Commandments (the Protestant version) posted in classrooms, etc.  Part of the reason for creating Catholic schools was to offer Catholic parents a school where the religious teachings were Catholic rather than Protestant.

    But the social networks that emerged within and among Catholic schools did offer an alternative to the WASP-exclusive networks elsewhere in society.  As Catholics became the majority in many Northern cities, Catholic schools built opportunity-yielding networks in those cities.  So to that extent, they did provide alternatives to WASP privilege.

    Many of today's newer private religious schools were created for the opposite reason: to act as rearguards of white privilege in the middle class.  Integrated public schools also integrate the social networks that begin in childhood, and those networks strongly influence our "opportunity windows" in adulthood.  While the wealthy still built exclusive social networks in private academies, many middle class whites perceived a threat to their exclusive networks that provided privileged access to middle class opportunities.

    The emergence of today's (largely) fundamentalist private schools, providing exclusive networks from kindergarten through graduate school, is in part a program to sustain that privileged access to middle class opportunities.  The other part is, of course, to promote fundamentalist ideology as the basis for American society.

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