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This paper examines the value of religion in developing a school community capable of forming social capital. Research included a multiple case study approach involving a Catholic school, a non-Catholic religious school, and a public school within the same geographic area. Data collection involved: school documents (parent-student handbooks, registration materials, school newsletters, parent organization minutes, and school calendars); interviews with key informants (principal, principal's secretary, active parents, and community members); faculty interviews or focus groups; parent surveys and focus groups; aggregate student achievement scores; and observer notes from several activities involving parents. Social capital existed in each of the schools, but the relative amounts of social capital as measured by parent interaction, the number of other school families parents knew, and how often parents volunteered at the school, varied by school context. Religiously-sponsored schools had higher levels of social capital. This was due to several characteristics of religious school communities. For example, religion offered a common bond for building community and a time and place for sustained regular social interaction, resulting in social networks that the schools could use for their own purposes. (SM)

Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes, Catholic Schools, Elementary Secondary Education, Institutional Characteristics, Parent Attitudes, Parent Participation, Private Schools, Public Schools, Religion, Social Networks, Teacher Attitudes

Autor: Fritch, Wayne S.


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