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White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools


United States Department of Education

White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools

Washington, D.C.
Thursday April 24, 2008

Panel I

MR. ZINSMEISTER: There we go, great. I'm anxious to keep this on time this morning, so I'll just jump right in here without a formal introduction. I'm Karl Zinsmeister. I'm the President's domestic policy advisor and am very happy to see you all here. And thank you for making time for this important subject this morning.

I want to start by just assuring you that this is a subject that the White House cares deeply about and that specifically the President cares deeply about. Just yesterday actually, I ran into Senator Lamar Alexander who, of course, used to be the Education Secretary before he became President [sic]. And Lamar told me that the President has been badgering him about, you know, how troubling it is that that these faith-based schools in poor neighborhoods are closing, so I was very pleased to learn that I'm not the only one who's receiving presidential nudges on this topic.

I spoke last night very briefly to some of you about my discomfort with the term, you know, "public schools" and "private schools" as they're conventionally used in the national discourse. And I pointed out that the kind of schools that we're talking about today that are run by faith organizations rather than by the government are in the ways that matter, I think, every bit as much public institutions as, you know, the Red Cross or the United Way or the YMCA or any of the other entities that we think of as serving the public good.

And the reason we are gathered today under the aegis of the White House is because faith-based schools are not only important to the people who use them, but they are important to the common good of the nation as a whole, so that's the issue we want to explore today. And I thought it would be useful for me to kind of establish in a little more detail why this is a cause for national concern. I think probably a lot of you are already convinced, but I think it's important as a national conference to get that on the record, so I'm going to explain a little bit of the problem here today.

And we'll start with our slides. The problem begins right here with this I'm sure familiar and very discouraging reality. Over last 25 years, as we all know, the federal government, state and local authorities, lots of businesses, academics, philanthropists have poured tremendous amounts of attention and resources into our urban public schools, and we've made some very clear progress. There's absolutely no question about that. The achievement gap has closed across racial and ethnic boundaries, but I think we all also know that overall student achievement in our weak inner city public schools is still abysmally low, unacceptably low.

And this chart you see here is an example of that. Depicted here are the results on the NAEP Test, the so-called National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is the definitive national standardized achievement exam. And you can see that only about 22 percent of the eighth graders in our large inner cities are now proficient or advanced in math. And in lots of particular cities like some of the ones we've listed are Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland, the figure is even lower. About half that are proficient at the eight-grade level in math.

More evidence is in this next slide. Actually, I went too far. Sorry. Here we go. As you can see, only 52 percent of these students in today's major urban school districts, public school districts leave high school with a diploma. Linger on that for a minute. That's half of our inner city children are not graduating, and in some places the figures are worse, as this graph illustrates.

Obviously, this is a devastating problem, and it requires its own mobilization and its own solutions, which is exactly what "No Child Left Behind" is all about. It's what the charter movement is all about. It's what school choice is all about. It's what hundreds and hundreds of corporate and philanthropic projects are fighting to overturn, and that's a big priority for us and I think probably for almost everyone in this room.

But in the meantime, while these reform efforts, these attempts to fix our public schools are taking place, let's just remember a whole generation of children are growing up in these neighborhoods. And today's families in places like Baltimore and Cleveland and Detroit and so forth can't wait. They can't wait for these public schools to turn themselves around. They need alternatives for their boys and their girls right now.

And in many of our poor neighborhoods, the sole escape hatch, the only viable alternative for families is the local faith-based school, where somewhat miraculously, educators with a mission have taken many of the very same children who are floundering in chaotic public schools and given them direction and stability and skills. And so that's, I think, the most fundamental reason why it's a matter of serious concern for our communities and for our nation as well as obviously a tragedy for many individual souls that so many of these high functioning inner city faith-based schools are now disappearing.

So just to summarize, our approach to offering quality education for disadvantaged urban kids is kind of a three-legged stool, and none of these legs are failsafe. And they're all important, and they can complement each other.

First we need to try to find better public education, but I want to remind you, experience has shown that this is no simple task. Turning around a failed urban public school is really tough work, extraordinarily difficult. We know that in Maryland, for instance, the figure is that 16 percent of the schools that enter the restructuring category under NCLB -- that's kind of the multiple failures -- when you enter restructuring, only 16 percent of schools in Maryland ever emerge from that category successfully. In California the number is just 5 percent, so it's very tough, slow work.

The second leg of the stool, as you can see, is to create new schools. And, as you know, a whole range of new and more effective schools have been created. Sometimes it's just a school within a school. It's kind of a virtual school. Sometimes it's actually a new physical building. Chartering of new schools is one of the very exciting things that we've seen over the last decade and a half. It's led to some extraordinary institutions, as many of you know, and breathed new life into the education reform efforts of many, many cities.

However, chartering too is not magic bullet. It's very difficult. It's very time-consuming and expensive to start new schools. As you know, many states have caps and in many states we're up against those caps, so it's not possible to start new charter schools. And the reality also is that the quality of the charters is inconsistent. Some of them are, as I say, among the very best schools in the country, and others are achieving only mediocre results.

So that's why we need the third leg of our stool, which is to preserve the excellent schools run by faith organizations that already exist in these touch neighborhoods where families really need improved options. These schools are there. They work. They are desperately needed by the children whose -- again, I remind you, their childhood is going to be gone long before the education reform movement reaches their block.

So let's talk a little bit more specifically about faith-based schools. As you can see from this slide, just a quick reminder, they have very deep roots in this country. They're not a recent phenomenon. We've relied on them from our first days. 1606 was when the first Catholic school was founded in this country. There's a Catholic school in New Orleans, I've been told, that's still operating today that was opened in 1727. The first Quaker educational institution opened in Philadelphia in 1683. And fully four decades before the American Revolution, there were Jewish day schools operating in New York City. Mazel tov.

The -- and this continues right up to the present day. This is current. This is current data. Faith-based schools have been a very big part our education and continue to be. As you can see, nearly one of every five K-12 institutions in the country today is faith-based, so these are providing very critical educational services to kids all across the country.

A little more than a third of these are Catholic schools that's the biggest category, but lots and lots of other faiths are also represented. I was talking to a whole gang of Milwaukee folks last night and will remind you that there are literally scores -- have been scores and scores of Lutheran schools in Milwaukee that have been a very important part of the educational solution in that city as an example. In total, there are more than four million children today in this country of being educated in faith-based schools. That's a lot of kids, four million kids.

And since we're on the topic of kind of the common good here, let me directly address this issue of whether these alternate schools are somehow out of the mainstream of the American experience. In my former life or one of my former lives I used to run a magazine that published a lot of polls. And in the very last issue I edited before I started in the White House we had a really fascinating poll. You may be -- listen, you may be jaded about polls. I know a lot of people are. I am as well. I think one of the tipping points, for me I remember was I read a poll that said 67 percent of dog owners would be willing to share an ice cream cone with their pooch. Lick for lick I think it was. (Laughter)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: But this is not that kind of research. This is serious survey research. The poll I have in mind was a Harris poll. And what they did -- they asked people about their actual experience as opposed to some hypothetical. They said, "What have you actually done in your own life? What as parents have you done with your own children? What kinds of schools have you sent them to?"

And the somewhat startling reality -- I don't think this has sunk in with most Americans, but the reality is that about four out of ten American parents today have sent at least one of their children to something other than a traditional public school in their neighborhood. The biggest single choice is faith-based schools, but there are also other private schools in the mix, home schools, charter schools.

But the point I want to make here is this is not some fringy phenomenon. This is something that, again, four out of ten parents have executed in their own family lives as being the best solution for their own child. By the way, just as kind of a point of interest here, and maybe it will get a little bit of blood pumping -- there is also good research out there that shows that in many large cities, about 40 or more percent of public schoolteachers send their own kids to these schools.

Another related fact to keep in mind is that even today, without any really concerted federal effort to pay attention to this problem, already it's the case that there are about 150,000 kids attending these schools on publicly funded tuition scholarships. It's already happening. (Applause)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: As you know, there are various little federal niche programs. There are some state programs and so forth. And even without a, you know, as I say, kind of concentrated solution, nonetheless we've got some momentum here.

So faith-based schools are a very big, important part of the educational landscape. The largest single provider is the Catholic church, whose growth pattern looks like this. Even back at the time of the Civil War, a long time ago, there were already more than 200 Catholic schools in the U.S. and many more run by other educational institutions.

Professor Viteritti in the panel I'm going to chair in just a minute here will discuss this but as many of you know, the Catholic schools expanded rapidly around the turn of the century, were very important in assimilating wave after wave of immigrants from places like Italy and Poland and Ireland and so forth. And during this century, the number of Catholic schools reached their peak, which you can see here in 1960 of 13,000 Catholic schools in this country. And at that point there were more that 5 million just kids in Catholic schools. That was one of every eight American children. So again, a very big, very mainstream phenomenon.

And then the decline started, which you can see extended here. After reaching their high-water mark in '60, the faith-based schools serving inner city children began to decline. And since 1960, more than 5,000 Catholic schools have closed nationwide and equivalent numbers of other faith-based schools.

The enrollment today in terms of bodies instead of schools -- the enrollment is about half what it was at the peak. And alas, this trend is continuing. We did the math and can tell you that in just the last eight years, nearly 1,200 Catholic schools were closed or consolidated, and almost all of those were located in America's inner cities, which is the next point I want to emphasize.

Here are some of the cities that have been hit hard. You can see Chicago has lost 66 schools, Detroit 63 schools. This is only from 1998, mind you. This is just the last ten years. This not a huge trend line. The same pattern applies in many schools and, as I say, applies not only to Catholic schools.

This is some of the other faith-based schools in urban areas. Baptist schools have had a big decline. That's 1990 on the top and 2006 on the darker bar, so that's what? Sixteen years. Lutheran schools are down, Seventh-day Adventist schools. There were a few Protestant schools depicted here that kind of bucked the trend for a while. They held steady or even managed to grow up into the 1990s, but now they're also declining.

This is last -- this is since 2000, so this is the last six years. Episcopal schools are down, Pentecostal Assembly of God schools. Since just 2000, the last six years, we've lost about 200 urban schools run by just these three denominations right here. The cumulative losses look like this. I hope you read that small print. I guess it's not that small. Wow -- that's big.

You can see that it's about 1,200 schools of various faiths representing 425,000 kids. That's the number that got my attention. You know, if that was a school district, if those lost faith-based schools were considered one school district, that would be the second biggest school district in the country after only New York City. That's just what we've lost in the last six years.

So I want to make the point that this is -- what we're focusing on here is specifically faith-based schools and inner city schools. As you can see from these two graphs, private schools in general are doing fine. Faith-based schools in general are doing fine. The problem is faith-based schools in poor urban neighborhoods. That's what we are focused on. That's what the White House is concerned about. That's what I know many of you are concerned with.

That's where the problem is worst, but it's also where the children are most in need, most lacking alternatives, most need a safe and caring and academically rigorous alternative because their public schools tend to be so troubled and because those families don't have the means to necessarily exercise other options.

So why should we care? I mean if this is just consumer spending -- if this consumer choice at work and people are migrating and voting with their feet, you know, why should we care? Well, one reason we care is because these schools have very particular and even peculiar effects in inner city populations.

As Professor Jeynes is going to talk about in greater detail in the next panel, faith-based schools are serving these students very well, especially students who have been let down by their public schools. And in the process, obviously, they're doing us all a favor by, you know, making sure that instead of becoming unproductive kind of dropout children, these are children who can join the American mainstream.

Just to give you a couple indicators that I've kind of pulled up over the years that I've worked on this topic, research indicates, for instance, that compared to other students of the same demographic background, minority students in urban Catholic schools are 42 percent likelier to complete high school, and inner city minorities are two and a half times more likely to obtain a college degree if they attended a Catholic rather than a public high school, so very impressive results.

And not only do they manage to achieve excellence, which is one of the important goals of education, but the other important goal of education is some sort of equitability, not to just have some kids do really well, but to have all kids do reasonably well. And that's another area where faith-based schools have had unusual effects. You know, the classic book on this was Catholic Schools and the Common Good by Anthony Bryk and Company. And they pointed out that not only do these schools achieve relatively high levels of learning, but as they put it, quote, they distribute this learning more equitably with regard to race and class than in the public sector.

And part of the explanation it appears -- again, I think this is a little bit of a mystery, but part of the explanation seems to be the school culture, that these institutions outperform others at presenting -- you know, creating things like discipline and safety and racial harmony and a sense that all children can succeed. Faith-based schools have also been shown to inspire very high levels of teacher commitment and of student engagement.

And the bottom line when you put it all together is pretty startling really, which is it the fraction of students in faith-based high schools is in the high 90s, even in these tough neighborhoods, and the proportion that go on to college is also in high 90s. The proportion of graduates who go on to college is also in the high 90s. And I just want to remind you that nationwide, the national average for public high schools is about 70 percent. And in these cities where these schools are concentrated, it's more like 50 percent graduation rate, so those are really remarkable achievements.

Which brings us to our next question: All right, if these places educationally successful, why the heck are so many of them closing? And it is a reality that these places are successful, that they are popular, that they have been in their neighborhood for generations, that there's an appetite for their services. The problem is their business model. And there are several explanations, but we've tried to pull our three factors that rise above the others.

The first is the blockage of government aid. Unlike public schools, obviously, and also unlike private schools in other industrial nations, U.S. faith-based schools are blocked from receiving most streams of government education aid. As I mentioned before, some states provide transportation or funding for textbooks, and there's even some federal funds that get passed on for poor students and students with special needs -- there are a limited number of educational services -- but in general, direct government financial support to these schools has been denied.

Professor Glenn is going to comment in this first panel. We'll point out to you that this is pretty unusual, that the U.S. is really the outlier in this area. In countries like Denmark and Belgium and Australia and France, the reality is that the government funds the parent's choice of schools wherever it may take the child, including into faith-based settings.

But for a variety of peculiar historical reasons which I hope Professor Viteritti is going to unpack for us here in this first panel, for a variety of reasons this has not been the case in our country. So government aid is one big problem. Another big problem are the population shifts that have happened in cities generally over the last generation. Again, this is familiar to you all. The demographic composition of cities has shifted.

We know that middle class and working class blue collar families that have been traditionally very heavily served by these faith-based schools have mostly migrated out of cities. There aren't many left. And so this has reduced the size and vitality of many of these urban congregations. Fewer families obviously also means fewer students, and fewer families means less church income, which is terribly important to subsidizing the operation of these schools.

This chart illustrates it a little bit. You can -- the bright ugly pink line there, that's -- these are two representative cities, but that's the African-American population in this cities, and the blue line is the white population. Again, these are very familiar demographic realities.

And the important part of this slide, I think, is the bottom there. It doesn't spell it out, but that's what happened to enrollments at Catholic schools. Since 1970 the minority population in Catholic schools has increased 250 percent, and the non-Catholic population in Catholic schools has increased by 500 percent.

So here in DC, for instance, the last I knew I think there are 13 Catholic schools in the Catholic archdiocese here that are 95 percent or more minority. So this is an important new mission of churches in these neighborhoods. Now obviously, needier students are going to be more low-income families. They're going to have less ability to pay tuition. They have more meager resources. As a result, they put more of a demand on churches and on the donors, Just a simple economic reality.

These the median tuition levels at faith-based schools in inner cities. You can see that the Catholic and other religious schools are keeping their tuition levels very modest. Those are in the $3,000 to $3,500 per year range. Other Catholic schools are more than about twice that more than twice that actually. The tuition at a typical faith-based elementary school today covers about 60 percent of the costs. The rest is kicked by in by church subsidies or gifts, and at high schools the typical tuition covers about 80 percent of the costs. Big deficit.

And this is unlike other businesses where every new customer is good. In this business, every new customer is wonderful from the point of view of social justice, but each one that arrives with a big net subsidy requirement, so the more, the worse in some ways in terms of the business model. Setting tuition at such low levels means that the cost of these schools obviously a lot higher than their income. I mean listen, plenty of these schools are literally six-figure or even seven-figure annual subsidy requirements for just one school, so you can see why lots of them live on the knife's edge.

The third factor that affects the business model of these schools is staff costs. This is somewhat peculiar to Catholic schools, but as I'll tell you in a second, there are other aspects that are not. The left bars indicate the religious versus lay staff. You obviously have lots of nuns and priests who are no longer in these schools replaced by lay teachers, and those teachers have to be paid. The salary for an experienced teacher in New York City these days in the public schools is about $85,000. That's the baseline. That's what other schools have to match if they're going to get the bodies, and it's a heavy burden.

So this is bottom line. This is the consequence. You have very little government aid. You have increasing demand for church subsidies. You've got an increasingly low-income student body, and as a result, the schools are trying to hold their tuition below cost. There's actually an item there for charter school growth.

Charter school growth, as I've pointed out, is one of the really good things that have happened in the last couple decades. However, there's kind of an uneven footing aspect to this. Charter schools are entirely funded by public funds and are tuition free, and faith-based schools at this point are not supported in an equivalent way, so that's another aspect of this, and then the rising teacher salaries we talked about.

So it's easy to see why lots of faith-based schools are in financial crisis today Even though no one intended this. There's been no sabotage. No one purposely set up these confluence of events, but it's nonetheless a very serious problem.

Let me just close by pointing out that President Bush is not the first President to take an interest in this subject. This is a quotation from a panel that was recorded back in 1972 when they talked about "If the decline continues, pluralism in education will cease, parental options will virtually terminate, and public schools will have to absorb millions of students. The greatest impact will be on large urban centers, with especially grievous consequences for poor and middle class lower middle class families in racially changing neighborhoods, where the nearby nonpublic school is an indispensable stabilizing factor."

So alas, this is not a new problem. It is, however, a deep and continuing problem. And the sad news is that literally millions of seats have been lost in these schools since those words were written. But the good news is that this day is going to give us some ideas as to how we might turn around that trend line. So with that, I will invite our participants in our first panel to come up and join me on stage, and we'll get started. (Applause)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: This is our academic panel. We have a dean. We have a college president. We have two distinguished professors with us. Since we're meeting in the Reagan Building, I can't help but remind you that Ronald Reagan's definition of academics was a person who sees something happen in practice and wonders if it would work in theory. (Laughter)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: But I just want to assure you that is not the kind of academic who comes to White House summits. These are great guys. In all seriousness, these are researchers who have observed faith-based schools in most cases for years and years. They have become national authorities in terms of understanding how these schools work and what they do for the nation. I'm going to introduce them in reverse order from what they will appear so that the last instruction is the person who starts to speak.

Our final speaker is going to be the Reverend Floyd Flake, who is a senior pastor at Greater Allen Cathedral in New York, which is one of the really great American churches in, I believe Queens, right? I tried to get there once and didn't make it, but in addition, Reverend Flake is president of the Wilberforce University in Ohio.

He was also a congressman for about a little less than a dozen years. And back when I was a journalist, Congressman Flake was the kind of political figure you delight to cross paths with because he wasn't, you know, sort of robotically predictable like a lot of political figures can become. He didn't have that little tape recorder in his head that just turned on and said all the expected things. When you asked him a question, you might actually get some spontaneous honesty out of him. And he also crossed boundaries in some very interesting ways that I think made him one of the more interesting and unpredictable members of Congress.

The third speaker today is going to be Dr. Jeynes, who I mentioned. William Jeynes is a professor of education at California State University and is also affiliated as a scholar with Baylor University, who some of you may now has been snapping some very, very interesting, idiosyncratic scholars from all parts of the country in the last few years, and Dr. Jeynes is part of that.

He's written numerous books and articles on religious education and educational history, most recently a book entitled American Educational History: Schools, Society, and the Common Good. And he is a graduate of Harvard University and University of Chicago and has three children.

Our second speaker is going to be Dr. Joseph Viteritti, who is a professor at Hunter College in New York and also the director of the graduate program there in urban affairs. His most recent of nine books and lots and lots of article is called The Last Freedom: Religion from the Public School to the Public Square. He also has toiled in the vineyards of actual practice and has served as an assistant to the chancellor of schools in New York and Boston and San Francisco, so he has some practical experience as well.

And our first speaker is going to be Dr. Charles Glenn, who is the interim dean and professor at Boston University School of Education.

I had the good fortune to cross paths with Dr. Glenn back when I was running my magazine, and he coauthored a story for us which was really a fascinating glimpse into how other countries finance education. He is, I think, the U.S. authority on this topic, and I will note that he is the one who first educated me on this idea that there is kind of an international standard out there that allows parents to choose their school and has public funding follow that choice and that the U.S., as I mentioned in my remarks, is one of the few countries that doesn't adhere to this standard. So let's start with Dr. Glenn.

DR. GLENN: Thank you. I want to make four points. The first, as Karl has already mentioned, is that clearly the right of parents to choose the schools that children attend is an internationally accepted norm. Every country in the world, as I point in the text that's in your material, except North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba, allows parents to choose schools. Every western democracy except the United States provides public funding to support those choices.

As all you know, I think, under American -- under a decision of the Supreme Court in 1925, that right of parents to choose schools is recognized in American law as well. But there's a fundamental equity issue in the American situation in that parents are not able, in fact to -- who lack the resources to support nongovernment education for their children, are not able to exercise the right that they possess under those international norms. The various international covenants for human rights spell out clearly that this is a fundamental human right, and the United Nations and UNESCO have both agreed that it is fundamental in vindicating the right to education that the education provided not only be adequate, but that it be acceptable to parents.

The second point I want to make is that in all of these other countries which fund the schools that parent choose, religious schools are among those that are funded. In fact, in almost all cases, religious schools are the majority of the schools that government funds in addition to its own schools.

For example, in The Netherlands about 30 percent of the elementary children attend Catholic schools. About 30 percent attend Protestant schools. About 30 percent attend local government schools. And the other 10 percent attend a variety of schools, whether Waldorf or Islamic schools or Jewish schools. And all of those schools, 100 percent, are all funded completely by government. And that is regarded by the Dutch as a fundamental act of justice to ensure that every parent has the opportunity to attend a school that he or she can have full confidence in.

The reason that's not the case in the United States, as I showed in my book, The Myth of the Common School, is the 19th century hostility toward Catholic immigrants. And this is, of course, a uniquely distinctive issue in the United States. In Australia where there were also many Catholic immigrants, as part of a political accommodation of those immigrants, the Australian government in fact funds Catholic and other nongovernment schools. And a high proportion of pupils in Australia, as in Canada, as in France, as in Germany, as in England, attend schools with a religious character.

This has not -- and this is my third point -- caused conflict within these countries. It's often feared -- we're often told, including by members of the Supreme Court who should know better, that if you fund religious schools, that this will have the effect of causing religious conflict within the society. In fact, the historical record is very clear about that. In a number of countries, there was bitter conflict over schooling until government began to fund whatever schools parents wished to have their children attend.

Just to mention Netherlands again, there was -- for 70 years the political issue around which the Dutch common people were mobilized and the first political parties were founded was a so-called schoolstrijd, the battle over the schools. That battle was resolved in 1917 when the constitution was amended to guarantee equal funding, equal support -- and this will lead to my fourth point -- a guarantee of the distinctiveness of schools, and then the battle over the schools went away.

And the Dutch, in fact, as you know are famously tolerant. Arguably to some of us, perhaps they're too tolerant in some ways. But you do not see and you have not seen mobs of Catholics and Protestants and killing each other in the streets because 30 percent of the children attend Catholic schools and 30 percent attend Protestant schools.

The only country that might seem an exception to that would be Northern Ireland, where of course there has been a long and bitter history of Protestant and Catholic conflict, but we all know that that conflict has deeper roots that are not derived from the fact that the government funds Catholic schools in Northern Ireland just as it does in so many other countries.

And then lastly as I said, the question of the distinctiveness of schools. The issue which often is a matter of concern and should be a matter of concern is whether with government support comes government regulation in ways that will remove the distinctiveness, the ability of schools to maintain their integrity, to carry out their mission in a way that the school and those who sponsor the school define. Or is it necessary that with the government funding comes conformity to the ways in which the public schools operate?

It seems to me that's a fundamental policy question, one of enormous interest which my Belgian colleague and I have now looked at in more than 50 countries to try to see how different countries have managed that very delicate question of ensuring that schools can maintain their mission, can still be distinctive, can still follow a vision of education, can still have what the French call distinctive character and at the same time receive public support.

The -- this issue plays itself out of course in country after country. But the common experience has been, in my judgment, that when those who sponsor schools with a distinctive faith mission or a distinctive pedagogical mission like a Waldorf or a Montessori school, when they remain clear about what it is they are seeking to accomplish, when they ensure that the teachers that they employ share that vision, when they make very clear to parents who are preparing to entrust their children to the school what it is the school does and stands for, when those things happen, schools are able to maintain their distinctiveness even as they receive government support.

So that in the last analysis, the question of distinctiveness, the question of maintaining that clear vision and mission remains in the hands of those who in fact share in the shaping of the individual school's mission. At the same time, however, we have to be very careful at a policy level and at a legal level to provide the kinds of protections that I mentioned that the Dutch Constitution provides for what we could call a freedom of conscience on the part of schools because if schools are no longer able to be distinctive, then the right of parents to choose schools becomes meaningless.

So those four points: This isn't international norm. Religious schools are commonly funded. The fact that religious schools and nongovernment schools are funded has not caused social division. And finally that the question of the regulation and protection of the distinctiveness of schools is a basic policy question both for government and also for those who are directly engaged in the life of those schools. (Applause)

DR. VITERITTI: The history of faith-based schools in the inner city is very largely but not entirely a story about Catholic schools. The subtext of the story involves some very basic American values like liberty, equality and opportunity.

Catholic schools began in the 19th century in the spirit of protest. At the time public schools were requiring Bible reading, school prayers, and the singing of hymns, all in the Protestant tradition, and Catholic school bishops demanded that either these practices be discontinued or they be provided assistance to open their own schools. This never happened of course.

In 1875, Congressman James Blaine of Maine tried to pass a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited aid to religious schools. Blaine at the time was trying to cultivate anti-Catholic animosity in an attempt to run for President. The proposal got a majority of votes in both houses of Congress, but it failed. It came four votes short of a supermajority that was needed to pass a constitutional amendment. Many states followed up, though, by passing their own Blaine Amendment, and today Blaine Amendments exist in two-thirds of the state constitutions.

Throughout the 20th century Catholic schools continued to educate the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Europe, mostly from Ireland and Italy and Poland and Germany, but these were hardly schools of privilege. They scraped by because they were able to get some support in the local collection boxes. They scraped by because they had an army of religious orders that provided cheap labor. But they were very rarely prosperous schools.

I can remember my first grade class where a young nun sat in front of a roomful of 65 boys from the local tenements and tried to keep order, and she actually did a pretty good job. Catholic education reached its peak in 1965 with 13,000 schools that educated five and a half a million children. Suburbanization brought many of these -- took make of these students away from the cities and emptied the schools. It also depleted collection boxes. By 1983 Catholic schools had lost half their population.

These schools were subsequently filled by other children, which tended to come from African-American and Hispanic families, who were even less privileged than the children who preceded then and were even less likely to support the schools. Many of them were not Catholics, but there was a place for these students, because the religious orders that ran the schools had a philosophy that "We don't educate poor children because they are Catholic. We educate them because we are Catholic."

The dawn of the 21st century brought new opportunities and new challenges. In 1990 voucher programs were passed in Milwaukee and Cleveland with very strong support from the African-American community that was becoming more and more frustrated with the quality of public education. Support among African-Americans at the time now decades after Brown's promise that each child was entitled to an equal education kind of accentuated the fact that private and parochial schools could be used as means to serve the cause of educational opportunity. Subsequent programs in Florida and Colorado were struck down by the courts, but fortunately a very vibrant program continues to exist in the District of Columbia.

The new century also brought the growth of charter schools. Charter schools now exist in 40 states. There are 4,100 of them educating 1.2 million people. These charter schools, as Karl said earlier, are able to provide alternatives to public schools without charging tuition and as a result have depleted -- further depleted enrollment in faith-based schools.

Between 2000 and 2007, 780 Catholic schools closed. There seems to be a basic market logic to this that as it all sorted out, children who were interested in the secular benefits of a parochial school education would find their way to charter schools and those who really wanted a religious education would find their way into the remaining religious schools. But the market logic doesn't make sense for those who want a religious education but can't afford it, because as we speak today, you cannot have a private education or a parochial school education if you're poor, unless generosity is provided by philanthropy.

This affects not only Catholic schools, but Lutheran schools, Jewish day schools, Christian schools, Islamic schools, and what I would call black independent schools. One of the great tragedies of current policies that do not provide aid to children who attend religious schools is that it undermines the role of the African-American church as a resource in the inner city.

No institution has more to offer than to the development, the healthy development of young African-American children as the black church, and many pastors have attempted to build schools. Reverend Flake, my friend from New York, will tell you more about that later. But these schools face the same financial dilemmas as any other school which is dependent on tuition and tries to educate disadvantaged populations.

In 2002 the Supreme Court approved the school voucher program in Cleveland, lifting the federal ban, constitutional ban on aid to religious schools. But two years later it handed down a decision which again said that states were able to set their own standards for separation between church and state, leaving in place the Blaine amendments that exist in about two-thirds of our states, but this decision may eventually be overturned.

But the real obstacle to aid to religious schools is a political one, and this politics is based on our very real national consensus that we cannot afford to educate children in both public and religious schools. We don't have enough money. It raises series questions about national priorities. And as Charlie just said, it's a rather unique position for a democracy.

The choice debate will continue. Unfortunately the outcome -- one of the unfortunate outcomes of this debate is that it separates two populations of educators who are very committed to the children they serve, and the children they serve are very much same children. In the short run I'm not optimistic about changes in public policy that will allow aid to religious schools. This means that the future of faith-based education in the inner city is going to rely on private philanthropy.

Those who step up to the plate in this area should be reminded that had the great majority of children who live in cities will continue to attend public schools. The future of urban education and the dialogue about that future should not be treated as competition between two camps. It should not pit one population of disadvantaged children against the other. The point is that all children are our children and that all children deserve a decent education. (Applause)

DR. JEYNES: Good day. My name is William Jeynes, and today I'm going to be sharing with you about the academic contributions of faith-based schools. And I'm going to show you, first of all, an overview of the foundational research and then the research results on the religious school advantage and thirdly, how public schools may be able to learn from faith-based schools.

First, in terms of an overview of the foundational research, the influence of religious schools and the consistent advantage that students from these schools have had over their counterparts academically in public schools has gone on for some years as means of debate. One of the major contributors to this debate was James Coleman.

He and his colleagues wrote a book entitled Public and Private High Schools in which that observed that students from these schools consistently outperformed their counterparts in public schools, but beyond that, they also asserted a number of the reasons behind this difference. And two of the prominent reasons they mentioned were the religious culture of these schools, number one, and also the fact that these schools maintain higher scholastic standards than are typically found in the public schools.

More recently, authors such as Anthony Bryk and others have noted that private religious schools can have an effect well beyond the bounds of their walls into the broader educational landscape, especially as public school leaders are willing to imitate many of the rubrics employed by private religious schools. But what is so notable is that students from private religious schools, even when controlling for socioeconomic status, well outperform their counterparts in public schools.

Second, I want share with you research results on the religious school advantage. Now, if you're going to examine the religious school advantage, it's very important not to examine simply one or two studies, but ideally you want to examine all of them. And fortunately there is a statistical method through which this can be done called meta-analysis. A meta-analysis statistically combines all the relevant existing studies on a given subject in order to determine the aggregated results of such research. So I undertook a meta-analysis to get an overall sense of what the body of research indicates about a religious school advantage, and the results I'm about to present to you.

I was specifically interested in how religious schools addressed the achievement gap. To what extent do faith-based schools reduce the achievement gap? Well, the results I found were truly exciting. That is, if you examine the achievement gap that exists between African-American and white students, that achievement gap is reduced by 25 percent in faith-based schools. And also if you examine the achievement gap that typically exists between high socioeconomic students and low socioeconomic students, this achievement gap also is reduced by 25 percent.

Now this is truly exciting, especially because the achievement gap is perhaps the most debated topic in this nation today. We have tried for decades as a nation to try to reduce the achievement gap with limited success. And to the extent that faith-based schools are a means to reduce students' achievement gap, then the data that I'm presenting really need a very hard look.

I also examined the extent to which students of low socioeconomic status did better in private religious schools than their counterparts in public schools and found that the advantage held no matter what level of school you were talking about, whether it was the high school level, the middle school level, or the elementary school level.

In addition to using meta-analysis to examine the religious school advantage, I have also used nationwide data sets. Principally I have used the National Education Longitudinal Study, which is the most respected data set in education. It consists of about 25,000 students who are a nationally representative group, and through this I examined the religious school advantage.

Now, these data that I am presenting to you are extremely exciting. They show in left column the results for African-American and Latino students and then in the right column the results for white students. These are the effect of attending religious schools versus public schools on the academic achievement of 12th-graders by race.

And we see that for both groups of these students that is each group outperforms their counterparts in public school. So in other words, in the left-hand column, we see that for African-American and Latino students for reading, for example, these students in faith-based schools outperform African-American and Latino students in public schools by 8.2 percent in reading scores. And white students in private religious schools outperform white students in public schools by 6 percent. So we see that the advantages hold for all the races examined.

But there's also something very important to note from this table. Not only do both groups of students gain by attending private religious schools, but notice very consistently, no matter what academic measure you look at, African-American and Latino students benefit more by attending private religious schools than do white students. Notice, for example, for reading that African-American and Latino students do better than their counterparts by 8.2 percent. For white students, the difference is 6 percent. For math African-American and Latino students have an advantage of 8.3 percent, whites 6 percent and so on.

So no matter whether you look at social studies, science, test composite, whether a student is left behind a grade or whether they take a basic set of courses recommended by the National Assessment of Educational Progress or going on to college, no matter what academic measure you look at, students from faith-based schools, the ones that are performing the best and gaining the most by attending these schools are African-American and Latino students.

And this is extremely important because these are the students that we were trying as a society to help the most, so these results are especially noteworthy. And even if you control for socioeconomic status, again you see the same pattern. No matter what academic measure you look at, the people who benefit the most by attending private religious schools are African-American and Latino students.

Now if these results are exciting, the results I'm about to present are equally exciting, perhaps even more exciting, and that is what I did is I divided students from this national data set into socioeconomic quartiles. I examine the lowest socioeconomic quartile, the second lowest socioeconomic quartile, all the way up to the highest socioeconomic quartile. And the results indicate that the students who benefit the most by attending private religious schools are those of the lowest socioeconomic quartile.

Once again, it doesn't matter what academic measure you examine; you see the same pattern. So, for example, you see on the screen that for reading tests, students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile had an advantage of 7.6 percent over students in public schools. And then we see students from the second lowest socioeconomic quartile. The advantage there is 6.8 percent. And the higher you go up the socioeconomic ladder, the smaller the different becomes.

We see the same basically the same pattern for math scores. The advantage for those of the lowest socioeconomic quartile, 7 percent. They benefit the most. Those of the second lowest economic quartile, they benefit the second most and so forth. And again you see the same pattern, whether you examine social science scores, science scores, test composite, being left back a grade, or whether students get the basic core set of courses.

So once again, the students who benefit the most by attending private religious schools are those of the lowest socioeconomic quartile. Those who benefit the second most are the those from the second lowest socioeconomic quartile. And once again, given that these are the students we are trying to benefit the most, this should cause people to take a second look at the effects of faith-based schools. They are truly doing an important work, an important service to our nation.

Now, we need to examine why it is that attending religious schools reduces the achievement gap. And again, turning to the results of the meta-analysis, if you combine all these studies together, there are basically three trends that you see in the research that has been done. First of all, better school culture that typically people believe the religious schools have a better school culture than one typically finds in public schools. Secondly, faith-based schools encourage student religious commitment. And thirdly, faith-based schools encourage parental involvement. These are the three trends that you see in the meta-analysis.

Now, the idea of there being a better school culture is also supported in the National Education Longitudinal Study. For example, first, religious schools are more likely to have racial harmony in their school. There are fewer racial fights, and also they're considered to be more racially friendly by the students.

And by the way, the four asterisks that you see next to each of these numbers is a statistical notation indicating that each of these results have a less than one out of 10,000 chance of occurring by chance. And generally speaking, the larger the number, the larger the effect, so anything .4 or .5 or .6 is quite substantial.

Second, we notice that religious schools are less likely to have gang problems, and we see that the difference huge there. Third, we see that religious schools are more likely to have teachers who are interested in students. And finally religious schools are less -- religious school students are less likely to be offered illegal drugs.

There is also a considerable amount of research on the influence of school choice. Research by Howell and Peterson has examined three different communities that have used voucher programs and found that achievement was higher among religious private school students in those voucher programs and also that parents and students enjoyed these schools better than the public schools. We see basically the same results that have emerged although to a lesser extent in the Milwaukee school choice program and also in European school choice programs.

The third point that I will make is that public schools may be able to learn from faith-based schools. And again the meta-analyses that I have done indicate that there are four items especially that public schools may want to take note of in terms of employing some of the private religious school rubrics. Number one, the importance of maintaining high expectations for students. Number two, the salience of moral education, and moral education does not have to be religious, just the teaching of right and wrong. Third, emphasizing loving and caring teachers. And fourthly, encouraging parental involvement.

Now a lot of what I share you may react by saying, "Well, that's only according to common sense. Certainly makes sense to me," you might say. But we need to remember what Voltaire said. What Voltaire said was "Common sense is not so common." And I think we have an opportunity as a nation and as people gathered together in this forum today to really make a difference as we encourage and espouse the flourishing of private religious schools.

Horace Mann once said, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." And I believe today as we encourage the flourishing of private religious schools, we have a different -- we have an opportunity to win a victory for humanity. Thank you very much for your time. (Applause)

REVEREND FLAKE: Thank you, and let's give thanks for all the other speakers. And somewhere it's said the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. And whatever that means this morning, I'm happy to be here and representing the categories that were part of my introduction, but I think the most important category that gives definition to my presence has to do with the founding of a faith-based school 25 years ago.

As the founder of that school, in looking at some of what Charles has said, some of what Bill has said, and certainly some of what Joe has said, the realities are that there is a serious struggle as it relates to the ability to maintain such schools, given that there is such an inequality in terms of the access of resources to make those schools operate and function in a manner that is competitive.

The school we built 25 years ago for pre-K through 8th graders has been extremely successful from a competitive perspective. And the reason for and rationale for continued existence is the fact that our responsibility to prepare young people for global competitiveness can only be done when people are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to bring about the means by which these young people do not feel as if they will never have an ability to be in a position where they be will able to compete economically.

Economics then in many instances rise based on their ability to have the educational foundations that are often found in those institutions that we consider to be out of the -- represent something outside the fabric of what we define as public education. Those definitions that we give are generally so limited that it does not open the door for an inclusion of institutions like mine and those that surround me, most of which are predominantly Catholic.

What we have discovered over the years as we have looked at this process is that failing public schools put a great deal of pressure, not only on the system, but it puts pressure on communities. It puts pressure on families, and when families have an opportunity for an alternative such as a faith-based institution, they make the choice.

Also it's interesting to me as I have seen the choices made by those who are teachers in many of these faith-based institutions. As we were doing an analysis of the forty-some teachers that are teaching at the Allen Christian School, for instance, we discovered that 38 percent of those students at Allen Christian School have been there more than 18 years.

That's saying much when you consider that our salary scale is about two-thirds of that of a public school teacher. It means that the environment is, as I think Bill just said to us, an inviting environment, an encouraging environment, a supportive environment, a place where teachers want to be, and where teachers want to teach and where they do more than teach because, in most instances, they become extensions of the family in a much more meaningful way.

But the problem is that as I look at -- I looked a few weeks ago at our finances and realized that the church actually subsidizes to the tune of about $1.5 to $1.9 million a year. That kind of money coming out of the budget of the church means that it is not doing some of those things that are required in its ministry. And only to the degree that we convince the leadership of the church that it is a part of our ministry are we able to continue to make that kind of funding.

When we started this process, we were giving the school $40,000 a month to maintain their utility costs and the mortgage on the building. What we have discovered, though, is the labor cost in these institutions is so great that we now have to search for partners to try to bring about a needful change in order for us to continue to educate in the way that we have in the past. And the way that we have in the past is the majority, over 90 percent, of our fourth-grade students are able to pass the statewide exams, which are not required of us, in reading, science, math, and social studies.

We've also found that at the 8th grade level, Allen Christian School does better than any of the schools in the southeast Queens area in terms of its ability to have students that are test ready and not because we teach to the test, but because, I think, all of the other values that are endemic in the overall educational process.

I do believe there is a place for the faith-based institutions. The problem, however, centers around an inability to have the resources therefore taking a lot of -- making it necessary to have a creative process by which we deliver the education, particularly when we consider ourselves responsible for creating an educational environment that is better than what is offered by the surrounding schools in the community.

For instance, in most of the schools in my neighborhood, they do not offer art. They do not have a band. They do not have the basic things that help to make for a whole well-rounded educational process. We believe that it is essential. Also, the freedom that we have taken to extend our days has meant a great deal in terms of having young people in reading readiness programs in the morning for an hour before the rest of the school day moves forward has been phenomenal in assisting in getting them into a position where they are educationally ready for the rest of what we offer to them.

Also, for those who are in the Catholic sector, the high schools in the New York community, particularly in the Queens community are at our doors in October. Generally, the majority of those students who are graduate from Allen Christian School go to high school at Catholic schools, because parents are used to paying tuition and because parents expect them to be an environment where they continue with the same kind of learning trends.

And so St. Francis Prep, Molloy High School, Christ the King, and those schools that are part of that community wait for us because they say the young people coming out of Allen Christian School are first of all, capable of passing the test, and when they get to the school they have the kind of discipline to continue to be competitive with those young people who are part of that educational environment.

And so we should not marginalize these schools. Rather, than we should work hard to create new incentives so that these schools might be able to survive. Among those incentives might be tax incentives or tax credits for those parents who are not getting the quality of education from the public system that they ought and therefore have to make alternative choices.

We ought to also consider some bond financing or some support from the public sector, because we believe that we're doing a job for the public sector in preparing young people that are job-ready, young people that are college ready, young people that institutions do not have to spend additional money on remedial programs to get them ready to be as competitive as they ought to be in the higher education community and its involvement.

We also need to deal with the reality that as we open these doors, the opportunities that are created for these young people put them at a major advantage in most instances, because colleges begin to look at our young people even before they finish the eighth grade to try to make determinations of curving them in a way where they get to the 12th grade, tracking them so that by time they're in the 12th grade, they have followed them into their schools. And a classic example being a young lady that just got invited to apply to come to Harvard University. And she was invited to come to apply not only because her grades were excellent at Allen, by her grades were also excellent at St. Francis Prep.

If we can do that on a wider scale, I believe that we can solve many of America's social problems. We can bring communities to positions where they are stronger than they have been in the past. We can indeed rebuild communities. I dare to believe that because Allen Church took over the responsibility, if you look at the statistics of where the community was before when it was considered a community that was lost, a community on the decline, it is now one of the upward mobile communities. And by the New York Times' statement it is a community that is third behind Decatur, Georgia and the County in Maryland just outside of DC as the third largest with 65,000 or more African-Americans where the economics represent a community that is extremely strong.

Good education helps to build good communities, and those communities are the communities where people are not moving to the suburbs or looking for places to go where they can get a quality education. It also means raising the standards of housing. It raises the standards of life expectations, and it certainly raises the standards of individuals who dare to believe that someone in this generation will not be another statistic that will waste away in the jailhouse.

What we've discovered is that with that $5,400 a year tuition, grandmothers, uncles, cousins, everybody in the family is making the commitment that another child will not be lost and begins to make payments. So we get checks from all directions because people, if given the opportunity, will make investments in quality education. Thank you very much, and I'm available for whatever questions you have. (Applause)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: Wow. These were very meaty and interesting remarks for me and I hope for you. I don't think there's a strict principal out there who could fault these gentlemen on their discipline and their time management. They were all right on, so those of you who brought those heavy 16-inch rulers -- I see some bulging in handbags -- you can put those away. We're going to stay on schedule today.

We have time as a result of their discipline for about maybe eight or nine to ten minutes of questions before we move to the President's speech. So I guess I'd like to open up the floor and invite you to ask any of the four panelists anything on your mind.

Let me actually start then maybe. I was very struck by what Reverend Flake said at the end there. We all know that good schools tend to overlap with good neighborhoods, but I think we often think of that as kind of the order is first there's a good neighborhood and then there's a good school.

What Reverend Flake just told us is that the good school can become the source of the good neighborhood and actually help turn around the neighborhood and improve the rest of the culture and composition of the neighborhood. That's a really fascinating possibility. And one may again argue that even if you aren't motivated or moved at all by the religious aspect of these schools, you can understand that kind of the way they operate is in the common interest.

I wonder if any of the other panelists or Reverend Flake want to elaborate on that possibility.

REVEREND FLAKE: Just one point. The Maryland county that escaped my memory at that moment -- I became 63 a few days ago. One of the things that you discover is that when you look at a community like Prince George's County, which is adjacent here to Washington, D.C. -- people moved out of D.C. in large measure because they had expectations that in Prince George's County, where they were buying $300,000, $400,000 homes, they would not have to worry about how they were going to educate their children.

And yet as they -- these are middle class people. They have means, predominantly African-Americans. There is no reason to assume that in that community they would not be able to properly educate their children. And yet the people I know there -- many of people I know there are looking for alternatives simply because community itself does not lend itself to the quality education they expected in the public system. So there are emerging schools as they're building these mega churches and those mega churches have made decisions that not only do they build a church, they're also building schools to give support to a community where one would not expect that to be a necessity.

In our community it worked the other way because my survey showed that people were either moving out to Nassau County or moving up to Westchester County or moving back to the South. And so my theory was if we build a quality school, we will force the public schools around us to get better. And that has been done to a degree, not to the degree that I would like, but it has been done to such a degree that we've been able to raise the standards in housing quality to where people want to live. Of course we have built about 600 homes as well, and that makes a difference. So ours is a about a concept of an entire community of which the school and the church is the center.

MR. ZINSMEISTER: Yes, a question here in front.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: A former governor of New York conducted a study years ago. I don't know if you saw that, but it was an astounding study. It was a commissioned by the board of education in New York, and it said that more poor disadvantaged children, average children attend parochial schools proportionately than public school. That story never got out, and the whole report was glowing about the good job they were doing.

I happened to run into Hugh Carey on Long island one time, and I spoke with him about this about that report, and I never heard that anywhere. Is that known?

REVEREND FLAKE: Yeah. I think Joe may be able to speak to it, but my point on it would be if I look at the community of which I am a part, you cannot get a seat in a Catholic school in that neighborhood. And I say Catholic because that's the predominant alternative schools in terms of numbers. And when we were doing a program --

Joe, we may have been doing that together.

When we were looking at how we were going to place some students when they first entered through charters and vouchers and the like, we had some money because we had philanthropists. We didn't have the seats in the Catholic schools and in the faith-based institutions.

DR. VITERITTI: You're right, though. That study did not get a lot of attention. I actually commissioned a subsequent study that focused on elementary schools, and again it showed that the Catholic schools were serving a very poor population, and they were doing a more effective job, particularly with poor populations. It was a very comprehensive study that I commissioned from a guy who was the former head of evaluation in the New York City Public Schools, and it got very little attention. The press just ignored it.

MR. ZINSMEISTER: Yes, question here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I believe it was Professor Glenn, and I want to talk about the research. You mentioned there's a lack of conspiracy to kill faith-based schools, and I would just like to present to the panel the option of what is happening in public schools teachers union leadership that, in my opinion, may have actually been a conspiracy to thwart what's going on in the faith-based schools in the inner city. That's kind of like the thousand-pound elephant in the middle of the room, but I'd like to throw it out there early.

REVEREND FLAKE: Well, the Blaine Amendment itself clearly is an indication that there is an antagonistic group. They put it in the charter school laws in New York for fear that many of our schools that are really living on the bubble financially were going to actually convert. So I would have to think that there is clearly an antagonistic mode as it relates to those who want to protect us by preserving what exists, which is not offering the quality education for the majority of those kids in those neighborhoods.


DR. GLENN: It was actually Karl who made that remark and not me, but a number years ago the National Education Association decided they needed to hear a different voice, and so they asked me down to speak to the board at the national board meeting on the issue of parent choice of schools. And before my talk I was taken out to lunch by the member of the staff who at that point was responsible for opposing educational vouchers, a very nice African-American woman.

And we talked about our families and our children, and she mentioned that she had moved to Prince George's County to get away from the Washington schools, which did strike me as an exercise of parent choice. So I asked her how pleased she was with the Prince George's County schools. She said well actually, she had put her children in Catholic schools. (Laughter)

DR. GLENN: But she was in charge of opposing that possibility for poor parents, so I didn't say anything. She was a very nice lady, and she was paying for my lunch. (Laughter)

MR. ZINSMEISTER: Well, we know your price now. We have just a minute left, so it has to be very quick. In the corner here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: This is for the second or third speaker perhaps, have you noticed any regional variation in the numbers that you described, and if so, why?

DR. JEYNES: Generally speaking, the areas of the country with the largest percentage of urban populations have the greatest reduction of the achievement gap. And so generally speaking, you're talking about the east and the midwest and also the west. Less so in say, the Rocky Mountain states or the south. So there is some degree of variation.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sure. I mean for cities.

DR. JEYNES: Not a lot of difference, although generally the areas of the country with larger cities -- again, you're talking about the northeast -- have the greatest reduction in the achievement gap. So the more urbanized the city, if you will, the greater reduction in the achievement gap.

And I think this is -- you know, I think a lot of what we shared today is that there's a lot of research available, but it really hasn't been publicized to the degree that it should be. And I think it's important that the news get out that the achievement gap is reduced and that the people who benefit the most by private religious schools are children of color and those of low socioeconomic status, particularly in the larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, these area.

MR. ZINSMEISTER: I think we are done. I would like to ask all of you to pretty much stay put. The President will be on the stage in about 15 minutes or so. The Secret Service, who have their own 16-inch wooden rulers, have asked that you stay pretty much in place. I think if there are persons that require bathroom breaks we can probably accommodate that, but we'd like to ask most of you to stay put. You're welcome to turn around and fellowship with your neighbors and make friends, but the room will be transformed quickly if then we'll have our next speaker. (Applause)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, St. Ann's Academy student, Aysia Mayo-Gray. (Applause)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States. (Applause)

MS. GRAY: Hello. My name is Aysia Mayo-Gray. I'm an 8th-grader at St. Ann's Academy in Washington, D.C. I'm a native Washingtonian and the oldest of three children, have attended private school since kindergarten. I will be attending Elizabeth Seton Catholic High School in the fall. (Applause)

MS. GRAY: I like St. Ann's because I feel as if it's my second home. Not only have I bonded with my classmates and teachers, but other students in the lower grades. My favorite subject is language arts, followed by history. This year my class performed the Shakespeare play, "Titus Andronicus," at the Ford Theater and won several awards. This was a great experience for all of us.

At St. Ann's I'm known as Aysia and not just a student who attends the school. The teachers have well prepared me for the future and have given me the skills to meet challenges to come. At this time it's my honor and privilege to introduce to you the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

(Applause, followed by speech by President Bush)