Catholic School Matters

April 30, 2017

NCEA Data Dive

At the NCEA Convention, Dr. Tom Burnford, the President /CEO, presented the latest statistics alongside Sr. Dale McDonald, NCEA’s Director of Public Policy & Educational Research. They both deserve kudos for being transparent about our data and confronting the brutal facts. I often struggle to find the latest and most illuminating statistics on Catholic schools. So here goes:

1. The highest peak of Catholic school enrollment was the 1960s. There were 5.2 million students enrolled in 12,893 Catholic schools in 1960.

2. Enrollments have declined since then: 1970=4.3 million, 1980=3.1 million, 1990=2.6 million, 2000=2.6 million, 2010=2.1 million.

3. The number of schools has also declined: 1970=11k schools, 1980=9.6k, 1990=8.7k, 2000=8.1k, 2010=7k schools.

4. Clergy or members of religious orders once made up over 90% of the faculties in Catholic schools. Now they make up less than 3%.

5. In the past 7 years, 664 Catholic schools have closed. In the past year, 96 have closed.

6. 99.3% of Catholic high school students graduate while 85.2% of graduates attend 4-year colleges.

7. Over 26% of Catholic schools are racial minorities. Nearly 17% of the national enrollment is Hispanic. Over 18% of total enrollment is non-Catholic. Over 10% of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch.

It’s easy to get discouraged by the number of schools which have closed in the past year (96) or the decline in total enrollment. Or even easier to bury your head in the sand because your school is still open. But it’s important to focus on the positive trends—we are serving more minorities, more Hispanics, more poor students AND we are continuing to produce great results in terms of academic achievement and connection to the faith. And it’s important to focus on how we can get enrollment turned around.

If we can get each school united internally toward the common goal of serving God’s people and can get all schools working together to support each other, we will reverse the downward trends of enrollment and closings and usher in a new era of growth. I believe the NCEA is the best path forward and if we all unite behind our National Catholic Education Association great things will happen.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

This week, there are two great podcasts for school leaders. Episode #46 is an interview with the "Fundraising Coach," Marc Pitman, who discusses the lessons he has learned from nonprofit leadership and fundraising. Episode #47 airs on Thursday and is an interview with Dr. Mike St. Pierre, the former Catholic high school president and current Executive Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. Both guests have hosted their own podcasts and have a plethora of leadership insights.

Last week there were two great podcasts. Episode #44 is an interview with Dr. Marco Clark, the president of Bishop McNamara High School outside Washington, DC. Episode #45 features an interview with Keiran Roche, the Regional Director of School Culture for the ACE Academies in Tucson.

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

I have finished taping Season One except for the final episode. For that episode, I'd like to answer questions from listeners. Please use this form to send me questions. If you have nominations or ideas for Season Two, send them via email.

Last week, Dr. Uhl blogged about:

  • TUESDAY: Dr. Clarks' podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Missoula by Jon Krakauer
  • FRIDAY: NCEA data dive

This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:

  • TUESDAY: Marc Pitman's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Thanks for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
  • FRIDAY: Dr Mike St. Pierre's podcast

You can find and subscribe to the blog at

The Week Ahead

Sunday: Fly to Los Angeles

Monday: WCEA Elementary Commission (LA)

Tuesday: WCEA Secondary Commission (LA)

Wed: Great Falls meetings

Thurs: Great Falls meetings

Fri: office (Helena)

Next week: 276 driving miles; 2,340 air miles

Last week: 781 driving miles

2016-17: 29,821 driving miles; 32,737 air miles

What I'm Reading (Last 5 books)

  1. At the Heart of the Church: Selected Documents of Catholic Education Ed. by Ronald J. Nuzze & Thomas C Hunt (underway)
  2. Catholic Schools and the Common Good by Anthony Bryk, Valerie Lee & Peter Holland
  3. Traction by Gino Wickman
  4. How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
  5. Charism & Culture: Cultivating Catholic Identity in Catholic Schools by Dr. Timothy Cook

Click this link for a full list of Dr. Uhl's professional reading along with links to Wed Book Blogs

For Principals & Teachers

  1. We are in need of teachers to offer breakout sessions for our Catholic Teacher Days (Oct 19-20). So far, 7 teachers have offered to teach. Email Dr. Uhl ASAP!
  2. Here is the flyer for the Sophia Institute's religion teacher workshop on October 19th. Please print out and share!
  3. NWEA is offering a great webinar on end of the year summary reports. Here's the sign up for the May 15th event.
  4. NCEA has a great list of upcoming webinars. It also has compiled a list of great summer 2017 professional development opportunities.
  5. The Justice for Immigration project of the USCCB offers resources for undocumented immigrants.
  6. Are you ready for ESSA? Here is a link to a massive amount of new documents. ESSA has not been repealed and it's time to get ready! Here's more guidance from the USCCB.
  7. We have secured funding for all of our teachers to spend the night in Butte so that we can hold the Fall Professional Conference in one place! The Sophia Institute will be offering catechetical professional development on Thursday, Oct 19th and then we'll kick off the conference that night with Jonathan Doyle. We'll have Mass together on Friday morning and then will hear from Jonathan again and then we'll have breakout sessions.
  8. On the Horizon:
  • June 14: administrator meeting (Helena/Cathedral) 10-3
  • August 14-15: Catholic Schools Retreat
  • Oct 19: Sophia Program for Religion Teachers
  • Oct 19-20: Catholic Teacher Days

American Catholic News

The NCEA White Paper on Inclusion by Dr. Michael Boyle and Dr. Pam Bernards. Print this out! Read it!

Catholic Schools Opening, Closing, Consolidating

  1. Rural Louisiana elementary school to close.
  2. Pittsburgh schools making progress on consolidation.

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


13 Reasons Why - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly