Catholic School Matters

February 12, 2017

Are We Ready for Vouchers?

Are you ready for vouchers? With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, it is expected that the Trump administration will push a proposal for a voucher plan. Think that sounds outlandish?


For years, the Republicans in Congress have defined themselves as anti-Obamacare. When the Republicans won the presidency and both houses, they weren’t prepared. “What’s next?” people asked. They were the proverbial dog who finally caught the car. Now what? Republicans have stumbled in trying to repeal and/or replace Obamacare.


In the last few weeks, the Trump administration has launched a dizzying set of initiatives: banning Muslims, building a wall, ending the EPA, etc. In each case, this is exactly what President Trump promised on the campaign trail. And each time, there is surprise and outrage. Really? Weren’t you paying attention?


He has promised a $20 billion voucher program to give each poor student funding for the school of his/her choice. This proposal is going to happen in some form. In fact, there is a proposal to put a pilot voucher program for military families. Now is the time to begin planning.


If poor students in your community were given a voucher to attend your school, how many would want to attend your school? Do you have room? Ultimately, the question strikes to the heart of what every school should ask: “How many students would enroll if it was free?”


We need to start the conversation. I would hate to see schools admit 40 2nd graders, for example, when there is only room for 22 and there’s no budget to build a new classroom, hire a new teacher, etc.! My recommendation:


· What is your capacity per grade? Define that number and stick to it.

· What is your capacity staffing plan? Remember that any voucher plan might be temporary so your school must be ready to contract after any expansion.

· How would you go about developing a waiting list?

· What is your enrollment plan? You need to plan for these fluctuations.

· How many new students can you accept in any one year? New students and their parents needs to be educated about the expectations and culture of your school. How will address those issues?


Are you ready for vouchers?


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Tomorrow's podcast (#27) is an interview with Jessica Lahey, the author of The Gift of Failure. Lahey shares her views of overparenting and offers suggestions for dealing with helicopter parents.


Last week's pocast (#26) is an interview with Helen Dahlman, the former principal of Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis. She shares her struggles and lessons learned over her career as a Catholic educator.


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.

Last week, Dr. Uhl blogged about:


  • TUESDAY: Helen Dahlman's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.
  • FRIDAY: "Are We Ready for Vouchers?"


This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:


  • TUESDAY: Jessica Lahey's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: The Gift of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu
  • FRIDAY: "Cultivating Catholic Identity"


You can find and subscribe to the blog at drtimuhl.com

The Week Ahead

Monday: Missoula meetings

Tuesday: office (Helena)

Wed: NCEA Advisory Council (virtual) & Butte Central Advisory Council

Thurs: MIssoula meeting

Fri: office (Helena)


Next week: 603 miles

Last week: 393 miles

2016-17: 23,159 driving miles; 14,376 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Spillover by David Quammen.
  2. Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman.
  3. The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (finished)
  4. Weathering the Storm: Moving Catholic Schools Forward by DeFiore, Convey, & Schuttloffel (finished)
  5. Missoula by Jon Krakauer (finished)
  6. Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido. (finished)
  7. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni. (finished)
  8. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (finished)
  9. Stall Points by Matthew S. Olson & Derek van Bever (finished)
  10. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (finished)
  11. Why Don't Kids Like School? by Daniel Willingham (finished)
  12. Tom Clancy: Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney (finished)
  13. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam (finished)
  14. The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (finished)
  15. Reading with the daughter: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (7 books, finished).
  16. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (finished)
  17. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey (finished)
  18. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (finished)
  19. The Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps (finished)
  20. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (finished)
  21. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  22. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  23. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  24. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  25. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  26. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

For Principals & Teachers

  1. You should begin putting the possibility of a national strike (Feb 17th) on your radar. If this movement grows, you might see requests (or sick-in calls) from your teachers. It's possible students might strike, too. At this point, we don't know how large the movement will become but I would recommend starting to converse with your staff and developing a response.
  2. Interested in learning more about Amoris Laetitia and traveling to Canada? Take a look at this retreat
  3. On the Horizon:
  • 7th/8th grade days at the legislature Feb 24th
  • Loyola Sacred Heart WCEA visit: March 15-17
  • St. Paul MGS WCEA visit: March 19-21
  • St. Mary's WCEA visit: March 27-29
  • Regional principal meetings: April 10 (GF), 11 (Missoula), 12 (Billings).

Catholic Schools Closing, Consolidating, and Opening

School Choice in the News

Betsy DeVos' School Choice To-Do List in US News & World Report

School Choice Background Information