Lost Ground: Catholic Schools, the Future of Urban School Reform, and Empirical Legal Scholarship

23 Pages Posted: 19 May 2015 Last revised: 10 Nov 2015

Date Written: May 18, 2015


The central themes in Brinig and Garnett’s Lost Classroom, Lost Community: Catholic Schools’ Importance in Urban America distill as easily as they haunt. Well-understood is that the United States needs to improve the quality of education as well as its equitable distribution across various sub-classes of students. Paradoxically, students most in need of high-quality education services — including minority students, particularly those from low-income households in urban areas — are more likely assigned to under-performing public schools. Historically, the nation’s Catholic schools provided urban students, including many minority students from low-income households, with more efficacious yet less expensive educational services than their urban public school counterparts. Brinig and Garnett’s book identifies and discusses an especially lethal interaction of an array of key trends: While the need for high-quality, low-cost education services continues its ascent, Catholic school closures accelerate and, in so doing, threaten efforts to help improve the urban education landscape. To make matters even worse, as Brinig and Garnett also argue, the consequences of Catholic school closures extend beyond the education realm and degrade the stability of urban communities. Brinig and Garnett’s work on this topic is important as the policy issues remain timely and novel, and they enlist data and empirical methods into their analyses. As a result, Brinig and Garnett’s book is not only important for what it says but also how it says it.

Suggested Citation

Heise, Michael, Lost Ground: Catholic Schools, the Future of Urban School Reform, and Empirical Legal Scholarship (May 18, 2015). Texas Law Review, Vol. 93, 2015, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2607614

Michael Heise (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

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Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
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