An "F" for America's Government Schools
The sixth in a series . . .
“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”
—H. L. Mencken
I have thus far attempted in this series of essays to examine 1) the intellectual origins and history of government schooling in America; 2) the nature and purposes of government schooling; and, 3) the moral case for adopting the principle of “Separation of School and State” and with it the need for abolishing America’s government school system.
You are all by now familiar with my judgment on America’s government school system. I consider it to be immoral and anathema to the principles and institutions of a free society. The evidence for my position is overwhelming and the logic is irrefutable.
Still, some of you might not yet be fully persuaded by facts and logic, or at least maybe you can’t give up your attachment (for any one of a number of reasons) to the government schools. Those who know that the government schools are a mess but can’t quite give up their attachment to them do so almost always for sentimental reasons.
Maybe it’s because you’re a product of the government schools (as most of us are), and, well you “turned out ‘ok’ after all.” Or maybe your kids go to a government school and it doesn’t seem all that bad despite the fact that you know that the America’s system of government education is failing nationwide (this phenomenon has been dubbed by others as the “Thompson paradox”). Or maybe you think that the government school system is the one and only institution that holds small-town America together (or what I refer to as “Friday Night Lights” syndrome). Or maybe you hold the cynical view that ordinary Americans don’t love their children enough to do whatever it takes to educate them properly. Or maybe you think (incorrectly) that poor families couldn’t afford to educate their children if there were no government schools. Or, finally, maybe you think that government schooling is a good thing in principle (just like Marxism) but just needs to be “reformed” in practice.
It might also be the case that you’re one of those hard-headed realists who doesn’t like to think in terms of moral principles. Maybe you’re put off by my moralistic rhetoric. Maybe you’re one of those pragmatists, who is only concerned with whether an institution works or does not work. Maybe you just need to see some data.
The Government Schools Don’t Educate
So, how good or bad are America’s government-run schools? How are they doing academically relative to 75 years ago? How good are American students doing relative to children in other countries?
I’m pretty sure we all know the answers to these questions. America’s government school system is a disaster academically and in virtually every other way (with the possible exception of sports). Educational standards and performance in the United States have been in a well-documented state of decline for the past fifty+ years, and today they are in total free fall.
On state, national, and international tests, American academic preparedness is at an all-time low. In every major academic subject—from reading to arithmetic, from history to physics—American students know less and less. They know less relative to American students from one hundred years ago, and they know less relative to students from other countries today.
Let’s take a look at how American students have fared academically over the course of the last twenty years.
In history, for instance, only 20 percent of U.S. fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders, and 12 percent of twelfth graders who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests (America’s so-called Report Card), were deemed “proficient” or “advanced” in their knowledge of the subject. More than 50 percent of high school seniors posted scores at the lowest level (“below basic”), and “only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.” In 2018, American eighth graders scored four points lower on the NAEP U.S. history test than they did in 2014. According to a recent survey, 42 percent of Americans think Karl Marx’s communist slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is to be found in one of America’s founding documents.
In a 2002 survey on geographic literacy conducted in nine nations, American students scored next to last; 11 percent of American students could not locate the United States on a map of the world; 29 percent could not locate the Pacific Ocean; 69 percent could not find the United Kingdom. In 2018, American eighth-graders scored three points lower on the NAEP geography test compared to 2014.
American students’ science test scores are equally abysmal. Two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, 70 percent of eighth graders, and 79 percent of twelfth graders failed to show science “proficiency” on the 2009 NAEP test. Six years later, only 68 percent of U.S. eighth graders failed to show basic proficiency on the NAEP science test, and American eighth graders ranked 11th in the world on an international science test. In fact, they even ranked below students from Kazakhstan!
Likewise in math: In 2007, 61 percent of U.S. fourth graders and 66 percent of eighth graders scored below the proficient level on the NAEP test. On international mathematics exams, American students typically finish close to the bottom of world rankings of industrialized nations. In 2009, for example, American fifteen-year-olds ranked twenty-fifth among their peers from thirty-four industrialized nations on an international math test. By 2015, American students ranked 38th in the world math rankings.
From a historical perspective, today’s schools could not hold a candle to those of the 19th century. In 1885, the following math question was on the admissions test for eighth-grade students applying to Jersey City High School: “Find the sum and difference of 3x - 4ay + 7cd - 4xy + 16, and 10ay - 3x - 8xy + 7cd - 13.” By contrast, here is a sample question from the 1998 Ohio ninth-grade mathematics proficiency test: “About how long is a new, standard-sized pencil? (A) 7 inches, (B) 7 pounds, (C) 7 yards, or (D) 7 ounces.”
And then there are the reading scores. In 2007, 33 percent of American fourth graders scored “below basic” (the minimum standard defining literacy) on the NAEP reading test. In 2009, 74 percent of American twelfth graders tested at or above the “basic” level on the NAEP reading test, meaning that more than a quarter of students scored below that level—and that’s the lowest level. In 2011, only 7 percent of Detroit eighth-graders scored “proficient” or better on the NAEP reading test—and 57 percent scored “below basic.” In an eight year period between 2012 and 2020, reading scores for America’s 13-year-olds fell for the first time in the nearly 50-year history of the NAEP. In 2021, after a years of masked or online teaching, reading test scores for American first graders fell a stunning 24 points on a national reading test, but even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of American students could not read at grade level.
This is a disaster, the full consequences of which may not be known for a decade or two. (None of this, by the way, answers the “why” question, which I will get to in future essays.)
If our children can’t read, we shouldn’t be surprised that adult Americans can’t read. In 2003, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that 14 percent of American adults (about 30 million people) scored below the “basic” level of prose literacy, which means they demonstrated “no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills.” In other words, they are barely literate—even though 45 percent of this group graduated from high school. By 2021, the adult illiteracy rate in the United States had risen to 21 percent, and more recently the U.S. Department of Education announced that 54 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 74 years old (roughly 130 million people) read below a sixth-grade level.
If you’re still skeptical about just how rotten America’s government schools are, then let me introduce you to Baltimore. It was reported last year that 41 percent of Baltimore high school students earned below a 1.0 grade point average. Leaked documents from the Baltimore school system showed that area high schoolers performed math and reading at a grade school level. Government schooling in Baltimore can be summed up with this brutal Baltimore newspaper headline: “City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA.” This revelation, which came at the end of the student’s senior year of high school (he’s 17 years old), has resulted in his being told he must start high school all over again in the ninth grade!
So, what are we to make of all this?
The result of the decline and fall of American education is summed up in a 2007 newspaper headline: “American kids, dumber than dirt.” The article’s subtitle put an even finer point on the issue: “Warning: The next generation just might be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history.” American kids are not, of course, less intelligent than they were in the past, but they do know less—a lot less—than ever before.
Government Schooling and Government Teachers
And the students are not alone in their ignorance. Many of their teachers, unsurprisingly, are ignorant, too. We know this to be true because the teachers keep failing state certification tests. These tests usually cover the foundational content they will be teaching to their students: English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
These basic tests are much easier than the kinds of certification tests required of medical doctors, lawyers, or nurses, and yet 54% of prospective teachers who have recently taken the Praxis test (the industry standard) on elementary-level content failed on their first attempt. In six states—Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia—at least one of its teacher-prep programs (i.e., the so-called “ed” schools) did not produce a single graduate who passed the certification test on their first attempt.
Let’s zoom in and see what’s happening around the country in different states and cities. In New York City, 9 percent of its teachers failed a basic certification test at least four times, and of those 1,161teachers, 217 have failed the Liberal Arts and Sciences exam at least 10 times. In Illinois, 78 percent of prospective teachers failed an eleventh-grade level competency test administered in 2010. Reporters in Atlanta recently found that “more than 700 Georgia teachers repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they are required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers failed the test more than 10 times.” What’s more, “There were 297 teachers on the payrolls of metro Atlanta school systems in the past three years after having failed the state certification test five times or more.” In 2018, over 1,000 Florida teachers were fired for failing the state’s Teacher Certification Exam. That same year, 2,400 elementary school teachers in North Carolina failed the math section of their licensing exams. In Colorado last year, 54 percent prospective teachers failed the state licensure exam, and 64 percent failed in New Jersey.
When so many teachers in America are this academically incompetent, should we be surprised that American children aren’t learning very much?
The Cost of Government Schooling
And how much do Americans pay for all this academic failure?
U.S. taxpayers are forced to pay considerably more in taxes per pupil for education today than they did 50 or 100 years ago, and more relative to the education taxes paid by citizens of any other industrialized nation.
Over the course of the past 100 years, annual per pupil spending in the United States has risen by more than 2500 percent. In 1890, Americans spent $275 per pupil (adjusted for inflation and presented in 2000 dollars); in 2000 they spent $7,086 per pupil, which is a 25-fold increase.
The United States also spends more on education than any other nation in the world, but with shockingly poor results. In 2003, the United States spent an average of $10,240 per pupil, while twenty-five other industrialized nations spent on average $6,361, and students from these other nations typically score better on international tests than do American students. A decade ago, in the years around 2012, the United States spent $11,467 per pupil; New York, $18,618; and New Jersey spent $16,841 per pupil in 2010.
Not surprisingly, many private and parochial schools do a much better job of educating children and spend much less money doing it. In socially and economically comparable neighborhoods in Los Angeles, for instance, the government schools spent more than $13,000 per pupil, while the Catholic schools spent an average of $3,750 per student; yet the Catholic schools outperformed their government school rivals in both reading and mathematics tests at every grade level.
In the end, what is the side-by-side cost differential between government and private schooling. By 2018, the national average cost for the government schools to educate one child was $14,653, whereas the average cost of a private school education was $7,736. In other words, a government school education costs 89 percent more in the United States.
It is a strange world, indeed, where children can spend thirteen years in an American government school and then graduate with a diploma they can’t even read. And for all this, we pay more than $14,000 per child, per year.
The following graph from the Cato Institute showing the contrast between what Americans have been forced to pay to educate our children from 1970 to 2020 versus academic achievement during that same period makes the point painfully clear:
Not surprisingly, America’s parents and students have wised up to the total failure of the government school system. That failure has been compounded and highlighted in the last two years during the Covid pandemic. Tens of millions of children were either required to attend schools where they and their teachers were required to wear masks, or they were sent home from school to take all of their classes online.
The result has been a mass exodus of parents and kids from the government school system. A recent study by NPR showed that America’s government schools are hemorrhaging students. Government-school enrollment nationwide, for example, fell by almost 3 percent—that’s approximately 1.5 million students—across 41 states in the fall of 2020, with states such as Mississippi and Vermont dropping by more than 5 percent. Pre-K enrollment dropped by a stunning 22 percent. Demographic changes that typically affect the government schools do not explain these enrollment declines, which far exceed any anticipated demographic changes that might typically alter public school enrollment.
At the micro level, school enrollment in New York City dropped close to 38,000 students during the 2020-21 school year and 13,000 have followed so far this year. In Brooklyn, one elementary school lost one-third of its students last year. Likewise, the student population in Los Angeles fell by 17,000 students during the 2020-21 academic year and another 9,000 have left this current year. Chicago’s government schools have lost 24,000 students in the last two years.
And where have the students gone?
The number of families that homeschooled during the last two years more than doubled in size. The US Census Bureau reports that the homeschooling rate went from 5 percent of American K-12 students, in spring 2020 to over 11 percent in fall 2020. That’s a huge increase. Most interestingly, the Census Bureau reported that there was a fivefold increase in the number of black families that have begun homeschooling. Back families now make up 16 percent of all homeschoolers.
Charter, private, and parochial school enrollments have likewise increased dramatically during the Covid years. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter school enrollment numbers have increased by 7.1 percent (approximately 240,000 students) over the last two years. Charter enrollments in states such as Alabama and Oklahoma have increased by 65 percent and 78 percent respectively. Catholic schools have seen their largest enrollment increases in fifty years!
What started as a trickle is now a torrent. Ironically, the Covid lockdowns and the move to online education permitted parents to really see what is going on in the government schools and they were not impressed. As a result, they have been voting with their feet and leaving the government schools in droves.
There is something wrong—very wrong—with what is happening inside the four walls of America’s government schools. But, as the late-great Herb Stein once said, “what can’t go on forever, won’t.” What’s happening inside America’s government schools is not sustainable.
But there is a problem—a very big problem! The simple truth of the matter is that the government school system cannot be reformed. Period.
Conservatives have been talking about reforming the government schools for decades, and even when they are in power they fail to do so. And it’s only gotten worse over the decades.
Here’s the problem: you can’t reform the government schools because the Education Establishment (i.e., the federal and state departments of education, the teachers’ unions, the “ed” schools, local school boards, curriculum designers, textbook publishers, and the national testing organizations) will not permit it, and you can’t do anything about that fact.
So, if you know this to be true, then how can you still support the government school system?
The time has come, my friends, to draw the inevitable, logical conclusion: it’s time to #JustWalkAway!
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. Stephanie Banchero, “Students Stumble Again on the Basics of History,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303714704576385370840592218.html.
. “Lower average U.S. history score for eighth-graders compared to 2014,” NAEP Report Card: U.S. History: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/ushistory/results/scores/.
. “Do You Think Teens Know the Difference Between Madison and Marx?,” Bill of Rights Institute, December 15, 2012, http://billofrightsinstitute.org/blog/2010/12/15/do-you-think-teens-know-the-difference-between-madison-and-marx.
. Bijal P. Trivedi, “Survey Reveals Geographic Illiteracy,” National Geographic News, November 20, 2002, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/11/1120_021120_GeoRoperSurvey.html.
. “Lower average geography score for eighth-graders compared to 2014,” NAEP Report Card: Geography: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/geography/results/scores/.
. Nick Anderson, “National Science Test Scores Disappoint,” Washington Post, January 25, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2011/01/25/AR2011012502534.html.
. “US student science scores draw concern,” FoxNews.com, January 8, 2015: https://www.foxnews.com/science/us-student-science-scores-draw-concern; “US students lag peers in East Asia, Russia in math, science,” FoxNews.com, November 29, 2016: https://www.foxnews.com/us/us-students-lag-peers-in-east-asia-russia-in-math-science.
. Sam Dillon, “Sluggish Results Seen in Math Scores,” New York Times, October 14, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/education/15math.html.
. John Hechinger, “U.S. Teens Lag as China Soars on International Test,” Bloomberg, December 7, 2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-07/teens-in-u-s-rank-25th-on-math-test-trail-in-science-reading.html.
. Drew Desilver, “U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries,” Pew Research Center, February 15, 2017: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/.
. “Sharpen Your Pencil, and Begin Now,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1992, p. A16.
. “State Education Roundup,” Heartland Institute, September 1, 2001, http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2001/09/01/state-education-roundup.
. Dan Lips, “A Nation Still at Risk: The Case for Federalism and School Choice,” Heritage Foundation, April 21, 2008, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/04/a-nation-still-at-risk-the-case-for-federalism-and-school-choice.
. “12th Graders Still Have Low Reading Scores,” Associated Press, November 18, 2010, http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-7066981.html.
 Terence P. Jeffrey, “Only 7% of Detroit Public-School 8th Graders Proficient in Reading,” CNSNews.com, December 11, 2012, http://cnsnews.com/news/article/only-7-detroit-public-school-8th-graders-proficient-reading; “District Profiles,” National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/districts/statecomparisontable.aspx?sbj=RED&gr=8&yr=2011&sample=R3&jur=XC&st=MN.
. Julia Musto, “13-year-olds’ reading, math scores decline for first time in national test’s history,” FoxNews.com, October 15, 2021: https://www.foxnews.com/us/13-year-olds-reading-math-scores-decline-national-test.
. Audrey Conklin, “Children scoring worse in math and reading compared to before lockdowns, data shows: ‘Multiyear recovery’,” FoxNews.com, March 26, 2022: https://www.foxnews.com/us/children-scoring-lower-after-lockdowns-study; Jill Barshay, Hillary Flynn, Chelsea Sheasley, et al., “America’s reading problem: Scores were dropping even before the pandemic,” The Hechinger Report, November 10, 2021: https://hechingerreport.org/americas-reading-problem-scores-were-dropping-even-before-the-pandemic/.
. “National Assessment of Adult Literacy—Key Findings,” National Center for Education Statistics, 2003, http://nces.ed.gov/naal/kf_demographics.asp (emphasis removed). For more up-to-date illiteracy rate statistics, see the National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=69 and ThinkImpact, “Literacy Statistics,” https://www.thinkimpact.com/literacy-statistics/; Michael T. Nietzel, “Low Literacy Levels Among U.S. Adults Could Be Costing the Economy $2.2 Trillion a Year,” Forbes Online, September 9, 2020: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2020/09/09/low-literacy-levels-among-us-adults-could-be-costing-the-economy-22-trillion-a-year/?sh=372845ae4c90.
. Chris Papst, “Baltimore City Schools: 41% of high school students earn below 1.0 GPA,” FoxBaltimore.com, July 12, 2021: https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/baltimore-city-schools-41-of-high-school-students-earn-below-10-gpa.
. Chris Papst, “Leaked documents show Baltimore high schoolers perform math, reading at grade school level,” FoxBaltimore.com, June 2, 2021, https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/city-high-schoolers-performing-math-and-reading-at-elementary-level.
. Chris Papst, “City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA,” FoxBaltimore.com, March 1, 2021: https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/city-student-passes-3-classes-in-four-years-ranks-near-top-half-of-class-with-013-gpa
. Mark Morford, “American Kids, Dumber than Dirt,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 2007, http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/morford/article/American-kids-dumber-than-dirt-Warning-The-3237239.php.
. Natalie Wexler, “Why So Many Aspiring Teachers Can’t Pass a Licensing Test—And Why It Matters,” Forbes Online, March 13, 2019: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliewexler/2019/03/13/why-so-many-aspiring-teachers-cant-pass-a-licensing-test--and-why-it-matters/?sh=38b37b97321a.
. Madeline Will, “First-Time Pass Rates on Teacher Licensure Exams Were Secret Until Now. See the Data,” EducationWeek Online, July 21, 2021: https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/first-time-pass-rates-on-teacher-licensure-exams-were-secret-until-now-see-the-data/2021/07.
. Yilu Zhao, “Many Teachers Keep Failing Test for Certification,” New York Times, April 29, 2002: https://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/29/nyregion/many-teachers-keep-failing-test-for-certification.html.
. “Fewer Teacher Candidates Pass Basic Skills Test,” Catalyst Chicago, December 4, 2010, http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2010/12/04/fewer-teacher-candidates-pass-basic-skills-test.
. Richard Belcher, “Investigation Finds Hundreds of Georgia Teachers Failed Certification Test,” WSBTV.com, November 7, 2011, http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/investigation-finds-hundreds-georgia-teachers-fail/nFX2S.
. Katie LaGrone, “At least 1,040 FL teachers out of jobs after failing state test, despite ‘effective’ evaluations,” ABC News-WFTS, August 1, 2018: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/at-least-920-florida-teachers-out-of-jobs-after-failing-state-test-despite-effective-evaluations-.
 Nicole Rojas, “Education System in U.S.: Nearly 2,400 North Carolina Teachers Fail Math Exams, Prompting Look at Tests,” Newsweek, August 2, 2018: https://www.newsweek.com/education-north-carolina-teachers-fail-math-exams-tests-1054333.
. Erica Meltzer, “Report: More than half of aspiring Colorado elementary teachers fail their licensure exam on the first try; many don’t try again,” July 22, 2021: https://co.chalkbeat.org/2021/7/22/22589741/colorado-teacher-licensure-nctq-report; Catherine Carrera, “Only a third of NJ teachers pass licensing exams the first time around. Does that reflect teacher prep programs?,” NJ Spotlight News, July 26, 2021: https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2021/07/only-a-third-of-nj-teachers-pass-licensing-exams-the-first-time-around-does-that-reflect-teacher-prep-programs/.
. Peter Brimelow, The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions are Destroying American Education (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), p. 28.
. “U.S. Tops the World in School Spending But Not Test Scores,” Associated Press, September 16, 2003, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2003-09-16-education-comparison_x.htm.
. “Fast Facts,” National Center for Education Statistics, 2012, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372; “D.C. Leads Nation as U.S. Per Pupil Tops $10,600, Census Bureau Reports,” U.S. Census Bureau, June 21, 2012, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/finance_insurance_real_estate/cb12-113.html.
. William G. Ouchi and Lydia G. Segal, Making Schools Work: A Revolutionary Plan to Get Your Children the Education They Need (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), p. 10.
. Gregory van Kipnis, “Reform the K-12 Government-School Monopoly: Economics and Facts,” American Institute for Economic Research, September 2, 2020: https://www.aier.org/article/reform-the-k-12-government-school-monopoly-economics-and-facts/.
 Kerry McDonald, “4 Signs Parents Won’t Be Sending Their Kids Back to Public School This Fall,” FEE Stories, June 21, 2021: https://fee.org/articles/4-signs-parents-won-t-be-sending-their-kids-back-to-public-school-this-fall/; Kevin Mahnken, “New Federal Data Confirms Pandemic’s Blow to K-12 Enrollment, With Drop of 1.5 Million Students; Pre-K Experiences 22 Percent Decline,” The 74, June 28, 2021: https://www.the74million.org/article/public-school-enrollment-down-3-percent-worst-century/.
. Anya Kamentz, Cody Turner, Mansee Khurana, “Where are the students? For a second straight year, school enrollment is dropping,” NPR, December 15, 2021: https://www.npr.org/2021/12/15/1062999168/school-enrollment-drops-for-second-straight-year; Matt Welch, “Families Are Fleeing Government-Run Schools,” Reason, August 27, 2021: https://reason.com/2021/08/27/families-are-fleeing-government-run-schools/.
. Kerry McDonald, “4 Signs Parents Won’t Be Sending Their Kids Back to Public School This Fall,” FEE Stories, June 21, 2021: https://fee.org/articles/4-signs-parents-won-t-be-sending-their-kids-back-to-public-school-this-fall/.
. Erica Pandey, “Charter schools boomed during the pandemic,” Axios, (n.d.): https://www.axios.com/charter-school-pandemic-enrollment-growth-6ccc0ceb-e883-4af5-9bf7-195bbc053c41.html; Neal McCluskey, “Survey: Private Schools Appear to See Rising Enrollment, This Year and Last,” Cato Institute, October 28, 2021: https://www.cato.org/blog/survey-private-schools-appear-see-rising-enrollment-year-last; Luis Andres Henao, “Catholic school enrollment makes largest increase in 50 years,” America: The Jesuit Review, February 15, 2022: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2022/02/15/catholic-school-enrollment-rebound-242401.