Catholic Schools Beat Public Schools in Reading and Math

Here is one demonstrable fact about the difference between Catholic and public schools: Students who study at Catholic schools do better in reading and math.

We know this because students who attended Catholic elementary schools in 2019 tested better in mathematics and reading than students who attended public schools.

The latest issue of the Digest of Education Statistics, published by the U.S. Department of Education, includes the average reading and math scores that fourth and eighth grade students achieved in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, tests that were administered in 2019.

Table 221.32a from this digest shows the average reading scores.

Fourth graders in public schools, it says, scored an average of 219 (out of a possible 500) in the NAEP reading test. Catholic school fourth graders scored 235.

The Catholic-school fourth graders won.

The same table shows that eighth graders in public schools scored an average of 262 in the NAEP reading test, while Catholic school eighth graders scored an average of 278.

The Catholic schools won again.

The same pattern held in the math scores reported in Table 222.32a.

Public-school fourth graders scored an average of 240 in the 2019 NAEP math test, while Catholic-school fourth graders scored an average of 246. Public-school eighth graders scored an average of 281 in math, while Catholic-school eighth graders scored an average of 293.

It did not matter whether the schools were located in a city, a suburb, a town or a rural area. In every location for which the digest had sufficient data on Catholic schools, it showed that the Catholic schools beat the public schools in reading and math.

In reading, Catholic-school fourth graders outscored public-school fourth graders 234 to 213 in cities, 236 to 225 in the suburbs, and 237 to 216 in towns. In rural areas, there was not enough fourth-grade data on Catholic schools, but the average score of 219 from rural public school was less than the scores for Catholic schools in cities (234), suburbs (236) or towns (237).

Catholic school eighth graders outscored public-school eighth graders in reading 277 to 257 in cities, 280 to 266 in suburbs, 275 to 258 in towns, and 281 to 263 in rural areas.

In math, Catholic-school fourth graders beat public-school fourth graders 243 to 235 in cities, 250 to 244 in suburbs, and 243 to 237 in towns. Again, the digest did not publish a math score for Catholic-school fourth graders in rural areas, but the 240 scored by rural public-school fourth graders was lower than the Catholic-school scores for cities (243), suburbs (250) and towns (243).

Catholic-school eighth graders beat public-school eighth graders in math by 291 to 276 in cities, 297 to 286 in the suburbs, 290 to 276 in towns, and 293 to 282 in rural areas.

Public schools did not consistently lose to Catholic schools in reading and math because they lacked funding. According to Table 236.75 in the digest, public elementary and secondary schools in the United States spent $13,834 per pupil in the 2016-17 school year.

The District of Columbia, according to the digest, spent $30,115 per pupil on its public schools that year. New York led all states, spending $24,377. Idaho spent the least — at $8,599 per pupil.

In that same 2016-17 school year, according to a page on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The average per pupil tuition in parish elementary schools is $4,400, which is approximately 74.7% of actual costs per pupil of $5,887.”

 “The secondary school mean freshman tuition is $9,840, which is about 70.6% of actual costs per pupil of $13,939,” says the USCCB website.

“The difference between the per pupil cost and the tuition charged is obtained in many ways, primarily through direct subsidy from parish, diocesan or religious congregation resources and from multi-faceted development programs and fundraising activities,” says the USCCB.

Taxpayers pick up the full cost of the public schools.

In fact, parents who send their children to Catholic schools pay twice. First, they pay taxes to subsidize the education of other peoples’ children in government-run schools, and then they pay tuition to fund their own children in the Catholic school.

But there is an obvious way to improve the academic performance of children who are currently stuck in government-run schools: Give them a chance to go to a private school — whether religious or secular.

Local governments can accomplish this by giving parents of every school-age child a voucher equal to the cost of educating that child in a local public school. Then those parents can choose whether to redeem that voucher at a government-run school or a private school.

President Joe Biden opposes school choice.

His campaign issued a statement to Politifact last July that said: “Joe Biden opposes the Trump/(Betsy) DeVos conception of ‘school choice,’ which is private school vouchers that would destroy our public schools. He’s also against for-profit and low-performing charter schools, and believes in holding all charter schools accountable. He does not oppose districts letting parents choose to send their children to public magnet schools, high-performing public charters or traditional public schools.”

The fact that Biden believes school choice “would destroy our public schools” indicates he does not believe they could compete on a level playing field with Catholic and other private schools.

The test results prove he is right.

So, why does he want to keep children imprisoned in schools that could not survive if their parents had freedom of choice?

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How Surrogacy Harms Women and Children

By now many Americans have read a glowing news article about the latest celebrity to have a child via surrogacy or watched a human-interest piece about a woman carrying a child for a loved one.

From New York, which just quietly legalized commercial surrogacy, to California, which remains a hotspot for individuals and couples from across the country and around the world seeking such services, surrogacy is often positioned only as a positive good. No equivocation or mention of the harms it poses to women and children is even mentioned.

Avoiding the other side of the conversation does a disservice to us all, however. It’s time to talk about the dangers of surrogacy.

Just ask some of the children themselves. “There are a lot of days …where I feel adrift, kind of like a tumbleweed… It’s days like today where my heart hurts a bit more over a surrogacy agency, doctors, lawyers, and the rest of the adults involved not successfully making sure that this product they were creating would be o.k.,” writes “jkiam83” an anonymous surrogate-born woman on her blog. “Where are the resources and communities for us products of surrogacy? [I]s this really what is in the best interest of a child?”

From the perspective of Brian, a surrogate-born man, it’s not; he writes, “It looks to me like I was bought and sold.”

In a surrogacy arrangement, a woman carries a child for an individual or couple who is unable to do so themselves. Sometimes the child is genetically related to the commissioning parents, but often donor gametes are used, and the child is related to only one, or in some cases neither, of the commissioning parents.

Sometimes the surrogate mother is genetically related to the child she carries, but often she is not. Some surrogacy arrangements are domestic, but many commissioning parents pursue international surrogacy arrangements, which adds an additional layer of logistical and legal difficulties.

Surrogacy is fraught with ethical and moral considerations. It is a process that can exploit vulnerable women. It carries significant health and psychological risks for the women whose wombs have been “rented,” the women whose eggs have been harvested to create an embryo, and the children who are born from these arrangements. All too often, the desires of adults—namely, the commissioning parent(s)—supersede the interests of children. Unfortunately, discussions of surrogacy in media—and culture more broadly—rarely focus on the latter.

At the recent United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Family and Human Rights drew attention to surrogacy and the dangers it poses to women at an event that highlighted several instances of women who had been trafficked, rendered infertile, or even died as a result of surrogacy. Michelle Reaves was one such surrogate mother from California. She lost her life last year while delivering a baby for someone else, leaving her own son and daughter motherless and her husband a widower.

By its very nature, surrogacy commodifies both a woman’s body as well as that of the child. The women targeted to become a surrogate by the multi-billion-dollar fertility industry are often wooed by the opportunity to make tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for renting their body. In some cases, a surrogate arrangement is altruistic—perhaps the surrogate mother may want to help a friend or family member who desperately wants a baby, and she does not profit financially from the exchange.

Nevertheless, regardless of the circumstances or motivation, in a surrogacy arrangement a woman’s body is used as a conduit for a transaction that provides a baby for someone else—and the risks for both her, and the baby, are significant.

Whether a surrogate mother is compensated or not, serious concerns involving health risks to mothers and babies remain, and the rights of children must not be ignored.

Children who are born as the result of a surrogacy arrangement are more likely to have low birth weights and are at an increased risk for stillbirth. When a woman carries a child conceived from an egg that is not her own—a traditional gestational surrogate arrangement—she is at a three-fold risk of developing hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

Egg donors have spoken up about experiencing conditions such as loss of fertility, blood clots, kidney disease, premature menopause, and cancer, and the lack of data and studies on both short and long term health outcomes for egg donors makes true informed consent unattainable.

While scientists do not fully understand the scope of these health considerations, it is clear that for both short and long-term outcomes, surrogacy is a frontier of unknowns; children, egg donors, and surrogate mothers may pay a physical or psychological price nobody yet fully knows or understands.

Children’s Rights Matter

Surrogacy gives little consideration to the rights of a resulting child, who in many cases will be intentionally separated from at least one biological parent, as well as potential half-siblings in cases where the commissioning parents are using egg or sperm donors in conjunction with the surrogacy arrangement. In cases of anonymous egg and/or sperm donation, children have been denied part, or in some cases all, of the details of their biological origins. “Genealogical bewilderment” and adjustment difficulties among surrogate-born children are well documented.

Even in cases where a child is raised by his or her biological parents, children’s rights advocate Katy Faust notes that many surrogate-born children in these circumstances experience the primal wound of losing their birth mother, an experience well-documented among adopted children. She argues that “surrogacy is, by its very nature, an injustice to the child. Birth is intended to be a continuation of the mother/child bond, not the moment at which the child suffers an intentional, primal wound. It’s the day when a baby should see the mother she already loves for the first time… not the last.”

Sometimes parallels are drawn between adoption and surrogacy. But this is a false comparison. In many cases surrogacy intentionally creates a situation in which a child will be denied his or her biological parent-child relationship. In every circumstance, the children of surrogacy arrangements are deliberately separated from the only mother they have ever known the moment they are born. Adoption, in contrast, responds to this separation rather than creates it.

Surrogacy Knows No Borders

International surrogacy arrangements can be even more complicated than domestic surrogacy arrangements because issues of citizenship and nation-specific determinations of legal parentage come into play. While there are no exact numbers available of how many children have been born from surrogacy worldwide, it is currently a global industry that is projected to grow to over $20 billion within the next few years.

As Professor David Smolin, a leading legal expert on surrogacy and author of “The One Hundred Thousand Dollar Baby: The Ideological Roots of a New American Export,” explains, “The United States is attractive to foreigners seeking surrogacy services because it is one of the few nations that offers stable legal systems explicitly supportive of commercial surrogacy.”

While America is a popular destination for surrogacy for those who can afford it, some commissioning parents engage in international surrogacy arrangements in countries with even less regulation such as Ukraine and Russia, which raises additional concerns about maternal and postpartum health care for surrogate mothers and babies.

Heartbreaking stories at the height of the coronavirus pandemic exposed the uglier side of international surrogacy as travel restrictions separated surrogates and babies from commissioning parents across the globe.

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With such international variation in the legal status of surrogacy, as well as the establishment of parentage and citizenship, commissioning parents and surrogate mothers can find themselves navigating a minefield of unanticipated practical and legal issues.

Internationally, women’s rights groups are split on the issue of surrogacy—much as they are in the debates over prostitution or “sex work”—about whether it exemplifies a woman’s autonomy and choice over what to do with her body or whether it constitutes commodification of a woman’s reproductive and life-giving capabilities.

Sadly, the international surrogacy market appears to have significant and growing overlap with human trafficking. Given the amount of money involved, traffickers stand to profit substantially from selling women and girls into surrogacy arrangements.

As Dr. Sheela Saravanan, author of “A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India,” wrote in a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, “The surrogacy trafficking trade used the same network that was used for domestic work and sex trade from the poor regions of India into urban areas. These unmarried girls [were] impregnated with embryos without their consent. Others were confined in homes and when some girls tried to run away, they [were] caught, brought back and beaten.”

How Are Governments Responding?

The international community is currently debating a new protocol on international surrogacy arrangements. A group of experts—including one representing the U.S. Government, convened by the Hague Conference on Private International Law—is discussing how to address legal parentage, jurisdictional, and ethical questions about surrogacy, particularly from the perspective of protecting children.

In response to various injustices and exploitation, several countries have closed their borders to international surrogacy arrangements in recent years, including India and Thailand.

Regrettably, the current official position of the United States with respect to international surrogacy is that surrogacy does not involve the exploitation or commodification of children. The U.S. signed and ratified the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that prohibits the sale of children, but holds that “surrogacy arrangements fall outside the scope” of the protocol.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children recommends that surrogacy agreements be regulated in order to prevent exploitation of women and sale of children. But she has not called for a global ban on surrogacy, although an increasing number of voices do, including hundreds of organizations from eighteen countries that signed an International Statement for a Global Ban on Womb Rental in 2018.

Within the United States, a patchwork of laws makes for a Wild West situation. Some states allow commercial surrogacy, some limit surrogacy to altruistic arrangements, and some do not recognize surrogacy contracts. But most states do not specifically address the issue.

Proposals to more tightly regulate surrogacy, clarify contract legalities, or in the case of the state of New York, provide a full-fledged stamp of approval, don’t resolve the full scope of surrogacy’s challenges and harms.

Time to Reframe the Conversation

Beyond the debates in state houses and international bodies, it’s time to reframe the conversation. Infertility and other health conditions that render a person unable to have a child of his and her own can be a painful and isolating experience, and our society should have compassion for people who walk the road of infertility and loss.

But we should approach the matter of surrogacy from an understanding that the desires of adults to raise a child do not supersede the rights and needs of children.

Listening to the women and children who have suffered deeply because of surrogacy is critically important. Organizations like Them Before Us and the Center for Bioethics and Culture are leading the important work to elevate these voices and tell the stories of women and children that are too often ignored or dismissed.

Clarifying legalities and increasing regulations does not address fully the ethical problems with surrogacy and its harms to women and children. Opposition to surrogacy is not a simple left versus right issue, and people across the political spectrum can agree that American laws and society need to prioritize the dignity and health of women, the needs of children, and the fundamental human rights of all individuals when addressing the matter of surrogacy.

Originally published by The National Interest

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Voter Suppression? Democrats Flat-Out Wrong. Census Data Gives Real Story About US Elections.

There is no suppression going on of anyone’s votes anywhere in the country. Anyone who says otherwise is just making it up.  

The Census Bureau’s recent release of its 2020 election survey of voters clearly demonstrates that those who have been claiming, without justification or evidence, that we have been experiencing a wave of so-called voter suppression have a lot of explaining to do.  

Among those making such claims: Vice President Kamala Harris, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, U.S. Justice Department nominee Kristen Clarke, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Stacey Abrams, and a host of leaders of left-wing organizations like the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the NAACP, among others. 

Instead, the Census Bureau reports that the turnout in last year’s election was 66.8%—just short of the record turnout of 67.7% of voting-age citizens for the 1992 election. It beat the turnout in President Barack Obama’s first election, which was reported as 63.6% by the bureau. 

Harris made that false claim about “voter suppression” in September last year when she was running for office. Yet the Census survey shows that there was higher turnout among all races in 2020 when compared to the 2016 election. Black Americans turned out at 63%, compared to 60% in 2016.  

Gupta has repeatedly made the same dishonest claim about “voter suppression” and an “assault” on voting rights. But 59% of Asian Americans voted in 2020, a 10-percentage point increase from 2016 when 49% turned out to vote.

Only 47% of Asian Americans voted in 2008 and 2012 when Obama ran for office and was reelected, including during a period when Gupta was in charge of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department and was supposed to be protecting voting rights.  

Clarke, the radical who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to head the Civil Rights Division, has also made the same deceptive claim about “voter suppression,” including states that, she claims, are “making it harder to register to vote.” 

Really? Because the Census Bureau reports that voter registration in 2020 reached 72.7%, which is higher than the 70.3% who registered in 2016 after eight years of the Obama-Biden administration. Not only that, but voter registration in 2020 was higher than in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections. 

Holder propagandized about “voter suppression” in 2020, claiming efforts to improve election integrity are “anti-democratic, anti-American.” Hispanics obviously disagreed with him since they turned out at 54% in 2020, compared to only 50% of Hispanics who voted in 2008 when his boss was elected. 

And Hispanic turnout actually dropped during Holder’s tenure as attorney general from 2009 through 2015, falling to 48% in the 2012 and 2016 elections.  

So you mean to say that with the Trump administration running the Justice Department, Hispanic turnout actually jumped up 6 percentage points in 2020? Doesn’t sound very anti-democratic or anti-American to me. Although what does sound anti-democratic and anti-American is trying to scare and manipulate the general public with fabricated stories about “voter suppression.” 

Abrams has been spouting nonsense about Georgia, the American election system, and “voter suppression” since she lost her race for governor in Georgia in 2018. This despite record registration and turnout numbers ever since Georgia’s voter photo ID law went into effect in the 2008 election; black and Hispanic turnout skyrocketed compared to the 2004 presidential election. 

It is, of course, hard to make such deceptive claims when Hispanics made up 11% of the total turnout in the 2020 election, up from only 9% in 2016. But that certainly has not stopped those who reflexively recite the “voter suppression” mantra to a gullible crowd, including many in the media and corporate executive suites.  

The Hispanic share of the vote was just behind that of black Americans, who had 12% of the total vote in 2020—the same percentage of the total vote by black Americans in the 2016 election at the end of the Obama-Biden administration when all of these liberals who keeping pushing the phony “voter suppression” myth were running things. 

The bottom line of the Census Bureau’s survey is that Americans are easily registering—when they want to—and they are turning out to vote when they are interested in the candidates who are running for election.  

In fact, in an election year in which we were dealing with an unprecedented shutdown of the country due to a pandemic, we had, according to the Census Bureau, “the highest voter turnout of the 21st century.”  

Originally published by Fox News

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