Catholic School Matters
May 10, 2020
Remote and Catholic
The debate is heating up around whether children can suffer from or transmit the virus and what role that plays in the decision whether (and how) to reopen schools. Teachers—especially those in high risk groups—are wondering whether they will even go back to teaching. More on this developing issue here. In Denmark, they have reopened early childhood grades because of the belief that children are not vectors; in Germany they have only re-opened upper grades because they believe older students will abide by social distancing and hygiene guidelines. What is becoming clear in Montana, however, is that planning for remote learning is unpopular among parents, teachers, and board members alike. A widespread sentiment is that parents will not reenroll or pay tuition if learning is remote.
But our remote learning efforts have certainly been more effective than our competition. We can get better and devote more efforts to improving our pedagogy and instructional effectiveness. Yet what has become obvious is that students (and parents) miss the community connections. Can we cultivate community connections in a remote learning environment? Can we be Catholic and remote? Can we add value to a remote learning experience that is valuable enough to expect a monetary commitment?
We’re seeing the same trend in higher education. Reportedly one in six graduating seniors is planning to take a gap year and colleges are readying plans to go all online—and expecting that enrollment in more expensive private schools will suffer. We could see a significant number of Catholic and private liberal arts colleges close.
How much will enrollment suffer in K-12 Catholic schools? A conservative estimate is 10-20% and that 30% overall income will drop next year. What has become clear is that our schools more closely resemble private schools. Tuition-paying parents are driving the decisions. Parishes and dioceses can no longer support (or bail out) under-enrolled schools. Our model is tuition-driven and if enough parents decide they don’t want or cannot afford to enroll, then the school has to close.
These conflicts aren’t going away anytime soon. Our parents are driving the conversation about the value of a remote Catholic education. Our challenge is to establish a value-added element that will motivate our parents to commit during these uncertain times.
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Dr. Tim Uhl
This edition of Catholic School Matters is sponsored by the Institute for School and Parish Development (ISPD), a national development consulting firm founded in 1989; ISPD works exclusively with Catholic schools, parishes, and dioceses. In partnership with the University of Dayton, the Institute for School and Parish Development (ISPD) will be offering three new on-line summer courses beginning the week of June 15, 2020. Titled ISPD Summer Institute, 2020, each course will award Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and a Certificate of Completion from the university. Students not interested in the above are invited to audit any one or more of the courses. The three courses are:
- Moving Your Catholic School Forward NOW: How to Create a Plan of Action to Face COVID-19 Challenges through People Engagement
- Moving Your Catholic Parish Forward NOW: How to Create a Plan of Action to Face COVID-19 Challenges through People Engagement
- 15 More Lessons Learned in 30+ Years in Catholic School Development: Moving Forward with Valuable Operational Vitality Lessons Midst the Challenges of COVID-19
For Your Reflection
Catholic Schools Closing
- Tennessee Catholic school to close
- Rockford (IL) Catholic school to close
- Archdiocese of Newark to close 10 Catholic schools
- Boston-area Catholic school to close
- Birmingham (AL) Catholic school to cut grade levels to stay open
- Diocese of Scranton to close Bishop McHugh High School
- Maryland's oldest all-girls high school, Notre Dame, to close
- Connecticut Catholic school to close
For the complete list of Catholic schools closing at the end of this school year, click here.
I've created a new curated list of resources for professional learning on technology, on remote learning as well as resources for teacher and parents.
Here is a link to my curated list of Education, Technology, Religion, and Advancement free resources. I haven't updated this list in a while and don't plan to.
What I'm Reading
The Last 5 Books:
- The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (1992) by Gary Chapman
Beyond Obedience and Abandonment: Toward a Theory of Dissent in Catholic Education (2012) by Graham P. McDonough
How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community (2018) by Judith Valente
Evolving Learner: Shifting from Professional Development to Professional Learning (2020) by Lainie Rowell, Kristy Andre, and Lauren Steinmann
Public & Private High Schools: The Impact of Communities (1987) by James S. Coleman and Thomas Hoffa
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading