Schools, Families, and
IN chapter 1, we characterized the three sectors of education—public schools, the religious private sector, and the independent private sector—as agents of the larger society and the state, agents of the religious community, and agents of the family. The body of this book has consisted of analyses of the effects of schools organized in these three ways on the young persons whom they are intended to serve. In this chapter, we will first take stock of what these analyses have shown and will then ask about some of the implications of these results.
First, however, it is useful to gain a perspective on the overall enterprise. Public schools are the schools attended by over 90 percent of children and youth in the United States. All private schools together enroll a very small minority of American children and youth. Catholic schools enroll about 6 percent, and non-Catholic private schools enroll less than 4 percent of the total of American children.
In many locales, and for many parents, there is no school other than the public school. The majority of children from every socioeconomic background are in public schools, including those from upper socioeconomic backgrounds. Because public schools are in such preponderance,