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Showing posts with label Catholic Schools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Schools. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Urge Catholic School NOT to Fire Catholic Teacher for Quoting Saint John Bosco on Islam

The Catholic schools superintendent for the Diocese of Orlando has reprimanded and threatened to fire a popular sixth-grade teacher for quoting Saint John Bosco on the deadly cult of Islam.

I have sent the schools superintendent the following message.  
I have signed the petition that has nearly 15,000 signatures on it protesting your censure of a truthful exposition of the cult of Islam, but as a Catholic, I want to personally tell you how disgusted I am. Are you so beholden to the politically correct that the truth and words of Catholic saints must be censured? You won't be forming Catholics zealous to live their faith, much less become saints, with a Catholic-lite curriculum. Your attitude is why so many orthodox Catholic parents choose to homeschool rather than corrupt their children with a faux Catholic education. Is it any wonder so many young Catholics have fallen away from the faith? You have no business running a Catholic school system. Please step aside and let someone who believes what the saints, Church doctors, martyrs and Popes have taught take on the responsibility of forming young Catholics. 
 Please join me and send your own message and by all means, sign a petition in defense of this teacher who was speaking the truth in the words of a Catholic saint.

You can call or E-mail the superintendent:

Mr. Henry Fortier
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of Orlando
Phone: 407-246-4905
Email: HFortier@orlandodiocese.org

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Cardinal Newman Society, Working to Ensure Faithful and Orthodox Catholic Education

The Cardinal Newman Society has done extraordinary work to ensure that Catholic education, at all levels, is faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and preparing faithful and orthodox Catholic laymen and religious to carry out their calling in the salvific mission of the Church.  Please consider supporting this dynamic organization which is doing so much to promote and strengthen the Catholic identity of Catholic schools.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Catholic Scholars Write to America's Bishops, Ask That Common Core Be Withdrawn from Catholic Schools

In what they describe as an "extraordinary step," 132 Catholic scholars have signed a letter opposing the implementation of Common Core in the nation's Catholic schools and calling for its withdrawal in more than 100 dioceses and archdioceses that have implemented the scheme.

The Common Core curriculum is opposed by these and many Catholic educators and parents because it lowers expectations, places emphasis on practical "skill sets" useful for business and industry, and fails to form the hearts and minds of children and the "child’s natural openness to truth and beauty, his moral goodness, and his longing for the infinite and happiness."

The letter, sent to each of America's bishops, follows:
Your Excellency:

We are Catholic scholars who have taught for years in America’s colleges and universities. Most of us have done so for decades. A few of us have completed our time in the classroom; we are professors “emeriti.” We have all tried throughout our careers to put our intellectual gifts at the service of Christ and His Church. Most of us are parents, too, who have seen to our children’s education, much of it in Catholic schools. We are all personally and professionally devoted to Catholic education in America.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Phyllis Schlafly: Common Core a Threat to Catholic Schools

Editor's note:  We are perplexed by Catholic school administrators who eagerly align  their pedagogy, curricula and standards to those of the public school establishment - an establishment that is mediocre at its best and utterly fails in America's inner-cities, where Catholic schools offer the poor a lifeline and hope for a better life.  These Catholic school administrators insist that their compliance is necessary due to the many transfers that occur between the government and parochial systems; but why would so many parents eschew "free" education for tuition payments were they satisfied with government-issue schooling? We suspect the real answer is that some bishops and diocesan education officials are willing to accept shackles in return for government shekels.

The valiant Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum, has written the following letter to key leaders of the Catholic hierarchy about a government-corporate alliance to implement Common Core standards in public and private schools, including Catholic schools. It is reprinted here with permission of the author.

Your Excellency,

I write today to share with you our significant concerns about a troubling development in our Catholic schools and to seek your prayerful guidance about this issue.

Under the guise of reforming the nation’s failing public schools, President Obama’s Department of Education offered states $4.35 billion in stimulus funds in a grant competition called Race to the Top in 2010.  In order to compete for the funds, let alone receive them, states had to agree to adhere to the only set of national academic standards then under development by a private organization funded largely by Bill Gates.

Governors of cash-strapped states were only too eager for the opportunity to supplement their budgets regardless of the quality of the standards.  In fact, the standards were not even completed until after the grant applications were due.  As a further inducement to apply for the funds, states were offered waivers of the Bush era No Child Left Behind law and were also warned that failure to adopt the new standards could cost poor districts their Title 1 funds.  One must wonder why allegedly superior academic standards necessitated such underhanded tactics.

The new national standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts, called Common Core, were adopted by forty-five states giving an appearance of national unanimity.  This facade crumbles once you know the standards were approved not by the people of these 45 states or their elected representatives but by governors and state boards of education officials.  Neither the state legislatures nor the voters ever knew about this radical change in their children’s education until this spring (more than two years after they were adopted).

As the standards began to be implemented during the 2012-2013 school year parents noticed disturbing changes in homework, textbooks, and tests.  Suddenly, Euclidian geometry was displaced, children were instructed to add in columns from left to right, and “conceptual” math replaced fundamentals.  In language arts, “close reading” strategies forced students to read texts “in a vacuum” or without the encumbrance of what was deemed “privileged information.” Furthermore, classical literature was dramatically reduced in favor of reading “informational texts” like computer manuals.  The stated goal of the new standards, in both Math and English, is to make students “college and career ready” by focusing on “21st century skills.”

Although Common Core was designed specifically to address public school failings, the standards are impacting Catholic schools as well.  Many Catholic schools have decided to adopt the Common Core in a misguided attempt to remain “competitive.”  This rationale makes little sense as Catholic schools have long enjoyed a superior academic record to the public schools. This is due not only to a faith-filled learning environment and the dedication of good teachers but because they have had the freedom to employ time-honored teaching methods only sporadically seen in the public schools. With a tradition that includes Cardinal Newman, St. Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas why would we ever consider adopting the latest public school fad in education?

Catholic educators who propose to “adapt” the Common Core to the Catholic model forget the purpose of Catholic education.  The mission of the Catholic school is to prepare students for eternal life with God while its secondary goal is to prepare them for temporal work.  They accomplish this by pursuing Truth and by seeking to acquire Knowledge for its own sake.  In contrast, the goal of Common Core is the narrow training of students to become mere functionaries educated solely for earthly success.  Catholic educators should be leery of any standards that create automatons rather than humane individuals.

In the United States, Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular have been under siege over the past five years.  In light of the HHS mandate, the IRS targeting of faith organizations, the active promotion of gay marriage, and other federal efforts designed to dismantle moral society we cannot remain complacent as this administration takes aim at our children.  Just a few weeks ago the president condemned Catholic education in Ireland calling it “divisive.”  Evil is dangerously palatable when hidden in the stew of “good intentions,” and the Church should be particularly cautious about accepting anything at face value from this federal government.  Clear Church teaching on the principle of subsidiarity demands that we guard jealously the local control of our children’s education.

Thus far, only math and language arts standards have been introduced.  We shudder to think of the challenges to the faith that will be posed when the standards for social studies, history, science, and health are released. Because it is impossible to totally remove personal bias and opinion from the development of any set of standards, and because we understand that standards drive curriculum, we must be especially vigilant in examining new standards before they are implemented by our schools.

In addition to a long list of academic worries with Common Core we have additional privacy concerns related to the onerous data collection requirements that are part of the system. The idea behind the federal data collection mandate is to track students from pre-school through their careers so as to determine whether the standards are succeeding in making students “career ready.” While the initial goal may be laudable, there are serious concerns about maintaining the privacy of minors. The federal government has proposed gathering over 400 personally identifiable data points on each student, and whereas that information could have previously been considered “safe,” the federal government’s changes to FERPA in January, 2012 now make it possible for school officials to share private data without parental consent. Once unscrupulous school officials realize they can sell private data to the highest bidder all privacy will be in jeopardy.

The threat posed by Common Core to the Catholic schools comes as they struggle to compete against public charter schools, home schooling, and other innovative models of education. Sadly, Catholic Schools can no longer count on welcoming the children of the parish as many parishioners no longer feel obligated to send their children to parochial schools. As our Catholic schools search for ways to attract new students, they would do well to reject the servile training model of the public schools rather than seeking to imitate it.

My humble request is that you investigate the dangers of Common Core to Catholic education.  Please consider the concerns of a growing number of parents around the country.  More than a dozen state legislatures have now taken some action to review, defund, or repeal Common Core now that parents and legislators have learned the details of this program.  In April, Indiana became the first state to suspend Common Core led by the efforts of two Catholic school mothers.  Your sheep ask for the protection of their shepherd. Your sheep are asking to be fed. The laity needs to hear from the bishops on this very important issue.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cardinal Dolan's Plan to Save Catholic Schools

In commemoration of Catholic Schools Week, New York's Cardinal Dolan has published the column below in The Wall Street Journal.   

It is great to see attention given to the "singular benefit" of Catholic schools during this annual observance.  As we have written, if the Archbishop of New York can raise $175 million to restore his cathedral, he can surely find a way to save the only school system in New York that actually works.

Students kick off National Catholic School Week in Robstown, Texas.
Catholic schools are demonstrating, in inner-cities throughout the nation, that they are a sure path out of poverty for many low-income families.  They are also chosen by many urban families because they are an oasis of safety, provide needed structure and discipline, and present a belief system that is shared by students, parents and teachers.  That unifying philosophy - a belief in Christ - "in whom we live and move and have our being" - creates a powerfully nurturing community of love in which children thrive.  Indeed, it is a school system that is free to tell children the truth about who they are, their purpose in life, and their eternal destiny.  What better way could there be to impart the self esteem so many educators talk about these days, than to help a child grasp that he or she is the adopted son or daughter of a king?

We hope that if Cardinal Dolan truly values Catholic schools, a legacy of saints, he will do much more thinking and planning before simply regionalizing the management and operations of his schools.  That consolidation of schools into regional clusters has been tried throughout the nation since the 70's without success.  The regional school is one to which no one feels particular loyalty and "ownership," it is usually more remote and difficult for many to get to, and within a few years its numbers decline and it closes.  The Archbishop of New York need only ask officials of the neighboring Diocese of Rockville Centre about their experience with the regionalization of schools.

Catholic schools play far too great a role in the salvific mission and life of the Church than to treat them as just another social service.  They are the place where heart speaks to heart, where the future of the Church is formed, where souls realize their ineffable importance, and where the Kingdom of God is built.

The Plan to Save Catholic Schools

How to combat falling enrollment while keeping standards high.

By Cardinal Timothy Dolan
This is Catholic Schools Week, when dioceses across the country celebrate the great gifts that are our Catholic schools. It has been a somewhat somber Catholic Schools Week for me, since in the Archdiocese of New York we recently announced that 24 of our schools will be closing at the end of this academic year. According to the National Catholic Education Association, the closings will join a national trend that has seen Catholic-school enrollment in the U.S. decline by 23.4% since 2000, a loss of 621,583 students.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nation’s Top 50 Catholic High Schools announced for 2010-2011

Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh has been designated one of America's 50 best Catholic high schools for the fifth consecutive time. All of its graduates are accepted to top ranked national universities or liberal arts colleges.

The National Catholic High School Honor Roll announced its sixth selection of the best 50 Catholic secondary schools in the United States. The purpose of the Honor Roll is to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic secondary education. It is a critical resource for parents and educators that distinguishes those schools that excel in three categories: academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.

To see a list of the top 50 schools, as well as lists of the 10 honorable mention schools in each category, visit www.chshonor.org .

The Honor Roll is an independent project of the Acton Institute, an international research and educational organization. It is produced in consultation with an advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and scholars. Advisory board member Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, former President of Catholic University of America and now Bishop of Trenton, said the Honor Roll’s evaluation method is indispensable. “Catholic schools must examine themselves on a regular basis using a well-rounded approach that assesses adherence to the Church’s educational calling,” he said. “The Honor Roll strengthens schools by encouraging high standards and vibrant Catholicism.”

The Honor Roll, which is published every two years, has seen over 50 percent of America’s nearly 1,300 Catholic high schools participate at least once. The best schools demonstrate a balanced excellence, which includes an active Catholic culture, sound college preparation and integration of Church teaching in all departments. These schools also display sound moral, catechetical and civic formation that prepares students for vocations in the world as political, religious, scientific, and business leaders.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Atheist Robert Wilson Gives N.Y. Catholic Schools $5.6 Million

From Bloomberg
By Patrick Cole

Retired hedge fund titan Robert W. Wilson lost his faith in God years ago, yet he believes in Catholic schools and gave $5.6 million to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York this summer.

It’s the latest of many gifts from Wilson to the city’s Catholic hierarchy and educators, this one aimed at funding the Catholic Alumni Partnership, a program he founded that helps elementary schools track down their 750,000 alumni and recruit them as donors.

“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

Wilson, a Detroit native, said he began questioning the existence of God after enrolling in Amherst College in Massachusetts to study economics.

“Religious people say you couldn’t have our surrounding environment without the Creator, but then who created the Creator?” Wilson said.

He made his fortune as a growth-stock investor at his firm, Wilson Associates, taking $15,000 in 1949 and turning it into $225 million by 1986 when he retired at age 60.

He stopped investing after retirement and entrusted his wealth among a dozen money managers. He then started giving money to conservation causes such as the World Monuments Fund, Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Wilson said he has donated more than $550 million to charity and wants to give away 70 percent of his wealth before he dies.

Wilson began making donations to the New York archdiocese in 1997 with a gift of $10,000, and he continued at that level for several years. Then Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, asked him to consider giving more money to the schools. Wilson responded in 2007 with a $22.5 million gift to the archdiocese’s Cardinal’s Scholarship Program. He later saw a need for a better alumni support network.

Schools Closing

“I realized that Catholic schools were closing all over the country, and Bill Gates probably didn’t have enough money to save them,” said Wilson. “Every private school I hear of relies on alumni support, whether it’s the Groton School or the universities.”

So Wilson launched CAP in 2008 with a $2.7 million gift and then gave $5.6 million this summer to set up fundraising programs in the schools.

His atheism wasn’t an issue with the archdiocese. Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, said in an e-mail statement to Bloomberg News that he was “grateful” to Wilson “for his vision” and the archdiocese needs to “enlist broad and sustained support from our alumni to secure the future” of the schools.

‘No Greater Charity’

“With a Catholic education, I can take the poorest kid in the most negative family situation and send him to college,” Edward Cardinal Egan, New York’s archbishop from 2000 to 2009, said in an interview. “For me, there is no greater charity. What Robert Wilson is giving us is hope for what can happen.”

The archdiocese’s staff started the search for donors by turning to alumni records at 303 schools in New York and Connecticut.

CAP also set up a Facebook.com page and asked graduates to register and contribute money. So far, the new alumni outreach effort has raised over $1 million from about 11,000 graduates, George said. About 95 percent of New York Catholic school alumni weren’t supporting the schools they attended, she said.

The new strategy has helped Assumption School, a pre- kindergarten-to-8th-grade school in Peekskill, New York, get more than $3,000 in donations and track down donors using its Facebook.com page, said Jim Lyons, Assumption’s principal.

Wilson’s philanthropy produced an unlikely friendship with Cardinal Egan. Both opera and classical music buffs, they have dined together and discussed an array of topics, including the second movement of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Egan said. Divine matters and Wilson’s lapsed faith also turn up in their conversations.

“I’ve told him I look forward to the day when you’ll say that you’re not an atheist,” Egan said. “He said, ‘And if you succeed, you’d be out of a job.’”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ontario: Catholic Schools Will Not Implement Government-Mandated Sex-Ed Curriculum

In this post-Christian age, Christians are increasingly called to be counter-cultural. We salute our brothers and sisters in Ontario for their courage and integrity.

From Catholic World News

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and an Ottawa Catholic school official said that they will not implement portions of Ontario’s mandatory sex education curriculum. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said on April 21 that the curriculum was mandatory for “all students in publicly funded schools, including Catholic schools,” and Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky said, “This is the Ontario curriculum, and it's the curriculum for all schools and all students.”

“Mr. McGuinty seems to be misinformed here,” said Jan Bentham of the Ottawa Catholic School Board. The education ministry, she said, was “very aware there would be some content we would not be delivering in Catholic schools.”

Urging parents to protest, Archbishop Pendergrast said, “I believe one of the most important things for children in learning about family life and sexuality issues is to have it in the context of a warm family that explains things to them and helps them to deal with that. I think parents are the first teachers of faith and moral issues to children.”

The curriculum teaches that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal and that masturbation is “one way of learning about your body.” Seventh grade teachers are prompted to say:
Engaging in sexual activities like oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse means that you can be infected with an STI. If you do not have sex, you do not need to worry about getting an STI. (By the way, statistics show that young people who delay first intercourse are more likely to use protection when they choose to be sexually active.) If a person is thinking of having sex, what can they do to protect themselves?
Students are to be coached to respond:
They should go to a health clinic or see a nurse or doctor who can provide important information about protection. People who think they will be having sex sometime soon should keep a condom with them so they will have it when they need it. They should also talk with their partner about using a condom before they have sex, so both partners will know a condom will be used. If a partner says they do not want to use a condom, a person should say, ‘I will not have sex without a condom.’ If you do have sex, it is important that you use a condom every time, because condoms help to protect you against STIs, including HIV, and pregnancy.
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Catholic Schools Week: New Models for Saving Needed Schools

As we have noted before, we believe that Catholic schools play an extraordinary role in America's inner-cities and suburbs, where in many cases more than half of all students who enter public high schools fail to graduate, and very few of those who do manage to graduate can be considered well educated. Catholic schools are also irreplaceable in the formation of counter-cultural Catholics, and their closing and consolidation is a tragic loss to both the Church and the larger society they serve.

The column below, from today's Wall Street Journal, mentions a new model where "lay boards raise money, build facilities, and actually run the place," and bishops ensure that the school provides an "authentic Catholic education." We have much more confidence in Catholic laymen ensuring financially viable institutions, than we do in bishops ensuring "authentically Catholic" schools. Indeed, many Catholics have withdrawn their support and their children from Catholic schools because in too many cases the culture and curriculum has differed so little from that of public schools. We have seen in the past week that the American bishops have even failed to ensure the orthodoxy of their own staff at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Nevertheless, the saving of Catholic schools, a legacy of American saints, is a work that should engage every Catholic layman concerned not only about one's own children, but the future of the Church and the world in which we live.

Down but Not Out in Catholic Suburbia

Inner-city parochial schools are not the only ones struggling.

From The Wall Street Journal
By William McGurn
Tim Busch has an answer to the epidemic of closing Catholic schools. And it has nothing to do with vouchers.

It couldn't come at a more critical moment. Over the next few days, nearly 2.2 million students and their families will celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Though the Catholic school system remains America's largest alternative to public education, the number of both schools and students is roughly half what they were at their peak in the mid-1960s. According to the National Catholic Education Association, the trend continued last year, with 162 Catholic schools consolidating or closing against only 31 new openings.

Amid the gloom Mr. Busch offers a prescription for revival: End the financial dependence on parish or diocese. Build attractive facilities. And compete for students.

If that sounds like a business formula, it is. Mr. Busch is a good friend I came to know through Legatus, an association of Catholic CEOs. Spend any time around him, and you'll find he believes that America needs Catholic schools more than ever, and that they can compete with the best. To prove it, he's helped start up two privately run Catholic schools—St. Anne elementary school and JSerra high school, both in southern California.

Now, there are plenty of upscale Catholic schools with waiting lists—especially those run by religious orders. But here's a fact that gets little mention: a Catholic education is in danger of becoming a luxury for the middle class. It's hard to be optimistic about the future of Catholic schools in our inner cities if Catholics cannot make a go of these schools in the suburbs, where most Catholics live.

Do the math. In my area of New Jersey, for example, a Catholic high school whose tuition clocks in at $15,000 a year is deemed a bargain. For a family with three or four kids, the total tuition can top $3,000 a month. Young middle-class families struggling with a new mortgage and high property taxes can find themselves squeezed: not wealthy enough to pay, not poor enough for aid.

In Mr. Busch's case, he says he got the idea for starting up St. Anne after he and his wife went looking for a Catholic school for their first child—and were depressed by the dilapidated facilities they found at many schools. Ultimately he and his partners settled on a model where parents take responsibility for operating the school, with the diocese ensuring the teachings are authentically Catholic. It's a division of responsibility much in line with Vatican II, freeing up pastors to be pastors while tapping into the financial, legal, and business abilities of lay people.

In some ways, it's liberating for both. Schools replace lay boards that merely advised a pastor or bishop with lay boards that raise money, build facilities, and actually run the place. The appeal to a bishop is this: We'll help you provide an authentic Catholic education to more children—and it won't cost you a dime.

For those who complain that such schools serve only the rich, Mr. Busch says that financially stable schools have more wherewithal to offer those in need (even without endowments—the next step—St. Anne and JSerra have more than 10% of their students on financial assistance). He further points out that need is by no means limited to money. "Some children have wealth," he says. "But having wealth does not insulate you from problems like divorce, substance abuse, loneliness, a culture saturated in sex, and so on. These kids need the Catholic message as much as everyone."

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., agrees. "Catholic education is such a value both for Catholics and for society that we want it to be accessible and affordable for all who see its intrinsic value . . . . We are fortunate that many lay people are committed to this cause—and are helping us 'think outside the box' so that Catholic schools will thrive in this new decade and beyond."

Mr. Busch's privately run Catholic schools, of course, are not the only new model showing promise. The 24 Jesuit-based Cristo Rey high schools across the country do a terrific job through an innovative work-study program. The bishop and his flock in Wichita, Kan., embraced a stewardship model that calls upon all parishioners to give 8% of their gross income, which allows the diocese to make all its Catholic schools tuition free. And Catholic universities such as Notre Dame and Boston College are reaching out to help run Catholic elementary and high schools.

"We can't wait for vouchers, and we can't look to the old model of relying on our pastors and bishops to come up with the money and answers," says Mr. Busch. "If we want Catholic schools for our children and our society, we have to adopt new models that let us compete."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Catholic Schools Week: An Opportunity and a Suggestion

This week is the thirty-sixth annual "Catholic Schools Week" throughout the United States.

I have written previously about the history, mission and importance of these schools. This week offers an opportunity for anyone who is curious, whether you are Catholic or not, and whether you have school-aged children or not, to visit these schools, observe classes, and talk to the teachers and principal. You would be warmly welcomed.

Every Catholic school is a unique community with its own charism, history and traditions, but what they share has made them a vital safety valve in America's inner-cities, where more than half of all students entering public high schools drop out. They are also chosen by many hundreds of thousands of suburban and rural parents who believe that moral, spiritual and character formation are at least as important as one's academic development, and are an essential part of a complete education.

For those who have the time, I would suggest that along with a visit to your local Catholic school, you consider asking the local public school authorities for the opportunity to visit at least one of the local public schools for which you pay. We would be pleased to publish your findings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nation's Top 50 Catholic High Schools Announced for 2008

Saint Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, SC, has again been
named one of the nation's 50 best Catholic high schools.

The National Catholic High School Honor Roll ( http://www.chshonor.org/) announced its fifth selection of the best 50 Catholic secondary schools in the United States. The purpose of the Honor Roll is to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic secondary education. It is a critical resource for parents and educators that distinguishes those schools that excel in three categories: academic excellence, Catholic Identity, and civic education.

This year's list includes 10 new honorees as well as eight schools that have earned recognition in each of the Honor Roll's five years of existence. 2008 honorees range from newcomer schools such as Knoxville Catholic in Tennessee, to repeat honorees such as Bishop Machebeuf Catholic in Denver and Holy Spirit Preparatory in Atlanta. Texas and Michigan led with six schools selected, followed by California, with four schools. Nine different religious orders sponsor honorees, including the Jesuits, Legionaries of Christ, and Norbertines.

To see a list of the top 50 schools, as well as lists of the 10 honorable mention schools in each category, visit http://www.chshonor.org.

The Honor Roll is an independent project of the Acton Institute, an international research and educational organization. It is produced in consultation with an advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and scholars. Advisory board member Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, President of Catholic University of America, said the Honor Roll's evaluation method is indispensable. "Catholic schools must examine themselves on a regular basis using a well-rounded approach that assesses adherence to the Church's educational calling," he said. "The Honor Roll strengthens schools by encouraging high standards and vibrant Catholicism."

In its five years, the Honor Roll has seen more than 50 percent of America's nearly 1,300 Catholic high schools participate at least once. This year nearly 300 schools completed the three detailed surveys that measure a school's adherence to the Church's educational mission. Each school also receives an evaluation to see how it compares to other schools nationwide.

The best schools demonstrate a balanced excellence, which includes an active Catholic culture, sound college preparation and integration of Church teaching in all departments. These schools also display sound moral, catechetical and civic formation that prepares students for vocations in the world as political, religious, scientific, and business leaders.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Foundation Helps Families and Saves Catholic Schools

The following shows what can be done IF the bishop is committed to Catholic education. Let's hope the Archbishop of Newark and other serial school liquidators, who see the closing of Catholic schools as a quick solution to financial problems (buggery bills?), will take note.

From Newsday
By Bart Jones

Catholic schools are closing around the country, but on Long Island not one has shut its doors since 2005.

The Tomorrow's Hope Foundation may be part of the reason, and part of why declines in enrollment in the Diocese of Rockville Centre have dipped sharply in the last three years.

The not-for-profit foundation, created in 2005 at the urging of Bishop William Murphy, who was concerned about the decline, has raised $4.7 million for student scholarships, including $1 million at this year's annual gala alone, said its executive director, Kathy Brand.

The group has handed out a total 2,900 scholarships to elementary school students, ranging from $500 to $2,000 each year, Brand said. Average annual tuition on Long Island for one child is $3,944.

"Tomorrow's Hope is making an extraordinary difference for the Catholic schools on Long Island," said Sister Joanne Callahan, superintendent of the Diocese of Rockville Centre's school system. She said the program has been key in slowing a decline in enrollment. In the five years prior to the group's founding, the system was losing an average of 1,325 students a year. That has declined to between 500 and 600 students a year, a decrease she called "unbelievable."

The program allows many families to keep their children in Catholic schools. Tricia Nunez, of Hampton Bays, said her family has not taken a vacation in nine years in part so they can pay tuition for her four children to attend Catholic schools.

Her children, 6 to 16, attend Our Lady of the Hamptons Elementary School in Southampton and McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead. The combined bill is $17,000 a year, she said, but Tomorrow's Hope has helped with $3,000 in scholarships for the youngest children. "It's meant the world to us," Nunez said.

Nationwide, Catholic schools continue to lose students at an alarming rate, said Sr. Dale McDonald of the National Catholic Education Association. Enrollment has dropped from 5.2 million in 1965 to 2.2 million today. This past year alone, 169 Catholic schools closed.

Other groups are doing work similar to Tomorrow's Hope around the country to slow or reverse the decline, but experts said the Long Island organization is off to a fast start -- perhaps partly due to its high-powered board of directors.

It is headed by Lewis Ranieri, a former chairman of Computer Associates International Inc. Its board includes Peter Quick, former president of the American Stock Exchange; former Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato; and former Rep. Rick Lazio. The group raises money mainly through direct mail, its annual gala and other events. Scholarship recipients are assessed confidentially.

Jose Avila, 39, a graphic designer from Brentwood, said his wife, Carolina, attended Catholic schools from kindergarten to university in their native Colombia, and their dream has been to send their two daughters, Maria, 8, and Sari, 5, to St. Joseph's Academy in Brentwood. But he said it would be impossible without help from Tomorrow's Hope.

"It's been a blessing for us," he said.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

McCain's School Choice Opportunity

By William McGurn

If only Jeremiah Wright had got the right conspiracy.

When Barack Obama's pastor was caught on tape accusing the government of inventing HIV for "genocide against people of color," it was dismissed as another crazy conspiracy theory – which of course it was. But what if the Rev. Wright had used his pulpit to direct a little fire-and-brimstone against a very real outrage: a public-school system that's depriving millions of children of the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy?

Scarcely half of American children in our 50 largest cities will leave their public schools with a high-school diploma in hand, according to a study released by America's Promise Alliance. These children are disproportionately African-American. Their homes are disproportionately located in our largest public school districts. And the failure is a scar on this great land of opportunity.

Alma and Colin Powell, leaders in the alliance that produced this report, spoke about the human blight that can follow the lack of a basic education in an op-ed in the Washington Times. "Students who drop out," they wrote, "are more likely to be incarcerated, to rely on public programs and social services and to go without health insurance than their fellow students who graduate."

That isn't the intent of those who administer this system. But that is the result. And only a latter-day Bull Connor could be happy with the way our inner-city public schools are consigning millions of African Americans to the margins of American opportunity and prosperity.

And it gets worse. One of the few hopeful alternatives in these cities are the Catholic schools, which take the very same students and show that they can learn if given the chance. One University of Chicago researcher found that minority students at Catholic schools are 42% likelier to complete high school than their public school counterparts – and 2 1/2 times more likely to earn a college degree. In difficult circumstances, and for an increasingly non-Catholic student body, these schools are doing heroic work.

Unfortunately, another study released this month, by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, reports that Catholic schools are closing at an alarming rate: More than 1,300 since 1990. Most are located in our cities.

These numbers were behind the special White House summit on Inner-City Schoolchildren and Faith-Based Schools convened last Thursday. The emphasis on faith-based schools is a reflection of practicality, because turning around a failing public school or starting up a new one is difficult, costly and takes time that these children can't afford.

"Many of the parents I know in D.C. are looking for a safe place for their children," says Virginia Walden-Ford, a summit participant and leader with the Black Alliance for Educational Options. "Their children can't afford to wait – they need a place now."

That's the education problem. The political problem has three parts.

First, though polls show that African Americans generally favor school choice, they tend not to vote for pro-school-choice candidates who are mainly Republican. Second, suburban voters of both parties are not enthusiastic about school choice. Many of these voters see increasing options for inner city kids as enabling blacks and Latinos to find their way into their children's schools. And of course, the teachers unions devote their considerable resources to fighting any measure that increases accountability or gives parents more options.

So when politicians have to choose between a teachers union and some African-American mom who would like to take her son out of a failing public school, guess who usually wins?

This system has had remarkable staying power; but the cracks are appearing. In cities like Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., African-American mayors like Anthony Williams and Cory Booker – Democrats both – have taken courageous stands to offer children more and better school options. And these brave souls are being joined by a growing number of parents, pastors and advocates who recognize that the status quo is cheating their children out of a chance at the American Dream.

There's a good opening here for John McCain. As a senator, he has been a forceful voice for giving lower-income moms and dads the same options for their children that wealthier parents already enjoy. What if he took this campaign into the heart of our cities – and gave a little straight talk about the scandal that their public-school systems represent in this great land of opportunity?

Hillary Clinton can't do it for the same reason that Barack Obama can't: They cannot offend the teachers unions that are arguably the most powerful constituents in their party. John McCain can.

Will he?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Catholic Schools: Essential Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

By Daniel J. Cassidy

The Catholic school system in the United States is unique in the world in that its founders intended that every Catholic child should be formed by it. Massive Catholic immigration to a nation with an alien culture and Protestant ethos persuaded bishops that formation in Catholic schools was essential to preserve the faith of millions of Catholics for whom they had responsibility.

When the first Council of Baltimore met in 1829, it is estimated that in a nation of 12 million, there were 500,000 Catholics. By the time of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884, the number of Catholics had grown to more than 8 million. Despite enormous obstacles, the bishops of the United States, in three successive Councils of Baltimore, not only affirmed the importance of formation in Catholic schools, they committed themselves to building a massive parallel school system. The bishops agreed that every parish should have a tuition-free Catholic school, supported by the whole parish, and instructed parents that they “must send their children to such schools unless the bishop should judge the reason for sending them elsewhere to be sufficient.”

The foremost historian of Catholic schooling in the United States, Father Harold A. Buetow, explains that public schools in nineteenth century America were influenced by Nativism that sought to “Americanize” the children of Catholic immigrants.
Thus, parents and the hierarchy “could not in conscience permit their children to attend schools conducted mainly by Protestant teachers, with a Protestant viewpoint, and with religious instruction and religious exercises of a decidedly Protestant (even if nondenominational) character.” The bishops were concerned primarily with what all bishops ought to be concerned, the saving of souls and the building of the Kingdom of God.

Today, many Catholic parents would be grateful for a Christian culture, Protestant or otherwise, in public schools. Instead, their tax dollars provide, and (unless they can afford private alternatives) law compels them to send their children to schools imbued with secular relativism, where immoral lifestyles are upheld, premarital sex is accepted as long as it is practiced “safely,” and where Christian history and culture, if it is taught at all, is often mocked and condemned.

Heroically dedicated parents often provide antidotes to a culture in the government schools that is deadly to both the body and the soul. Unfortunately, most of today’s parents are themselves victims of government schools and have little or no formation in the faith.

Numerous studies have affirmed the academic superiority of Catholic schools.
In America’s inner-cities they are havens, affording the poorest of the poor a safe, ordered environment, where their children are made to feel a loved part of an affirming community. But they are also the seed-beds for the future Church. Sociologist Andrew Greeley has conducted research indicating that those formed in Catholic schools are far more likely to be practicing their faith in their thirties and forties, than are the products of public schools and the parish CCD program. Distinctively Catholic schools should be forming knowledgeable, dedicated Catholic laymen, they should be the source of many religious vocations, and given the large numbers of non-Catholics they serve, particularly in the inner-cities, they should be the source of many conversions to the faith.

However, in the face of virulent secularism and moral breakdown in America and throughout the West, today’s bishops seem more concerned with managing a profitable corporate enterprise than with the saving of souls. According to the Hoover Institution the Catholic population has grown from 45 million in 1965, to almost 77 million today. But the Hoover Institution also points out:

Catholic school enrollment has plummeted, from 5.2 million students in nearly 13,000 schools in 1960 to 2.5 million in 9,000 schools in 1990. After a promising increase in the late 1990s, enrollment had by 2006 dropped to 2.3 million students in 7,500 schools. And the steep decline would have been even steeper if these sectarian schools had to rely on their own flock for enrollment: almost 14 percent of Catholic school enrollment is now non-Catholic, up from less than 3 percent in 1970. When Catholic schools educated 12 percent of all schoolchildren in the country in 1965, the proportion of Catholics in the general population was 24 percent. Catholics still make up about one-quarter of the American population, but their schools enroll less than 5 percent of all students.
A system that at one time educated 1 out of every 8 American children is being closed at the very time it is needed most.

Is the Church in America less prosperous than it was in 1829 when it committed to providing every Catholic family a quality Catholic education? Are the threats to one’s soul and eternal salvation any less? Certainly not! What is markedly different is the commitment of America’s bishops to faith formation and the saving of souls. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said “the danger today may be the primacy of administration over love.” Today’s bishops with their expensively tailored suits and gold cuff links too often resemble corporate CEO’s preoccupied with managing real estate empires. And they are far more focused on material resources than on the divine. John J. Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, is a good example; instead of committing to evangelization and building up the Kingdom of God, he has paid millions to outside consultants to manage the difficult public relations problem of closing scores of churches and schools. Using the consultants’ state of the art psychological and public relations techniques, and employing slogans like “new energies” to imply some great work is underway, the Archdiocese of Newark speaks of mergers, collaboration and consolidations, but the net effect is that far fewer children receive a Catholic education today than when he was appointed seven years ago. Many of the schools closed served those who need them most, but are least able to pay. In the eyes of the Archbishop and his corporate management team, the schools were simply a financial drain, not the means to save souls. As such, they must be eliminated. But like so many of today’s CEO’s who are paid huge bonuses even when profits are down and employees are being terminated, the Archbishop of Newark has complained to his seminarians in Rome about having to pay $300 for each of the custom made shirts he purchases there, and he has also purchased a comfortable estate in New Jersey’s horse country and installed a new swimming pool for his personal enjoyment.

In contrast to what is happening in most American dioceses, two Kentucky priests have written a powerful letter to Catholic parents about the necessity of providing their children with a Catholic education. They even assure parents that if finances are preventing them from enrolling their children in the local parochial school, they will find whatever financial assistance is needed. (See their letter here) Their extraordinary letter is a throwback to the great bishops of the nineteenth century who actually believed that they had the awesome responsibility to shepherd souls to heaven, not manage the collapse of Catholic life and the closing of Catholic institutions with an “apr├Ęs moi le deluge” attitude. Let us hope the Papal Nuncio has fast-tracked them both to the Episcopacy.

In the week following Easter, the National Catholic Educational Association holds its annual meeting. Attendees are, for the most part, the principals and teachers that work for bishops. Their meetings are usually characterized by “happy talk” slogans that suggest, despite their decimated numbers, they are completely oblivious to the collapse of their once great school system. Let us hope and pray that in this late hour they recognize the urgent need for orthodox and distinctively Catholic schools. May they read the Kentucky priests’ letter and realize the awesome, divine role and responsibility they have in the salvific mission of the Church, and may they, by resolving to restore Catholic education in the United States, even provide the Christian witness that might save the souls of a few lost shepherds.