STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: THE NEW NEOLIBERALISM OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLING IN THE UNITED STATES
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The article utilizes critical social theory and critical religious theory to examine the emergent and historically aberrant alignment between Catholic schools and neoliberal market-based reforms in the United States. The author traces the historical split between Catholic and public schooling, attending to the role of the litigious in shaping American parochial contexts. In the face of declining enrolments and vocations as well as skyrocketing tuition and a contracting share of the educational ‘market,’ Catholic leadership has sought public support through market instruments (tax credits and vouchers) in order to preserve dying religious schools. Lost in this paradigm shift is the irony of the move from proud separatism to a governmental reliance that would have seemed abhorrent thirty years ago. Missing, too, in the rhetoric of ‘saving Catholic schools’ is concern for the harm done to education on a whole when religious schools are presented as competitors with, rather than alternatives to, a free public education. Examined through the lens of the largest provider of Catholic schoolteachers in the United States, the article ultimately concludes that the public good is being sacrificed at the altar of religious pride.
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