Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Denise Patmon

Second Advisor

Joseph W. Check

Third Advisor

Peter B. Holland


As competition from tuition-less local charter and public schools increases, urban parents and guardians have more options for educating their children. Many struggle financially yet still choose to pay tuition for their children to attend an urban Catholic school. This exploratory study looks at the reasons why these parents and guardians choose a Catholic education for their children.

Over the course of six months in 2010, 850 surveys were sent to four Catholic urban elementary schools. One hundred and ninety-six parents and guardians in four urban Boston Catholic elementary schools completed surveys and participated in two focus groups. Two of the school sites had attached parishes and two sites were regional schools without attached parishes.

The study also examined all families' participation in school activities and level of importance they attached to such participation. While religious events were identified as most meaningful, religious events came in last for the type of event attended by families. These data were also examined for any differences when family income was factored into consideration. The last section of this study examined the responses of only Catholic parents/guardians. For example, while 87% of the Catholic parents and guardians responded that the school's connection to the parish was somewhat or very much important to them, at the same time 56% of these same Catholic parents reported that they attend mass anywhere from never to once or twice a month. The implications for this and other results for the schools and the parishes attached are explored in this study.

Finally, recommendations for future research are offered as a way to continue the work started in this exploratory study.