Catholic School Matters

January 20, 2019

School Choice

In honor of National School Choice Week, I have a special issue of Catholic School Matters. We are in support of School Choice in order to give more students opportunities to attend excellent schools—especially poor and disadvantaged students. Catholic Education Partners published an article describing their efforts to support School Choice in Catholic education.


This year I’ve been part of the ACE Reform Leaders’ Summit, a yearlong program designed to bring together school choice advocates to learn. In half a year, I feel much more conversant in the issues surrounding school choice. There is still room in next year’s cohort. Below are links to help you learn a about school choice and become more conversant.


If you have time and really want to learn, start with “The ABCs of School Choice” from EdChoice and the AFC (American Federation of Children)’s “2016-17 Yearbook.” If you want a deep, deep dive, this link will take you to Dr. Ann Egalite’s presentation “School Choice: What the Research Tells Us.” It’s full of research, summarizes and points to other studies, and every time I dig into it, I find something new. If you want a great conversation, the September 26th Catholic School Matters Radio Hour begins with a conversation with Parent Choice advocate Dr. Howard Fuller.


Other links:

· There’s a series of short videos on School Choice that could be used as a series of educational videos for parents. Or this really short one summarizes school choice.

· Catholic Education Partners published “The Role of Catholic Schools in Education Programs” in EdNext.

· “Support for School Choice and Vouchers is on the Rise” in the Atlantic.

· Overview of different programs: “School Choice Fast Facts and Statistics,” “School Choice in America” in AFC, “The Three Flavors of School Choice” in Forbes, “School Choice Frequently Asked Questions” in EdChoice, and “Interactive Guide to School Choice Laws” from NCSL.org.

· Information/Explanation of Tax Credit Scholarships: ExcelinEd’s article, EdChoice’s article,

· “Scholarship Tax Credits or Vouchers?” by the Cato Institute, “What are School Vouchers?” by EdChoice

· Information on Education Savings Account: EdChoice’s article, NPR’s article “Homeschooling for Special Education

· Articles on Research from NPR: “With School Vouchers, Who Benefits and Who’s Left?” Lessons from the Oldest Voucher Program” and “Why It’s So Hard to Know Whether School Choice is Working.”

· There’s a super cool story on the Fugees Family and their schools serving refugees. It reveals the possibilities for school choice.


There’s always more to learn. Don’t forget our role as educators and educational leaders is to lead through learning!


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Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture

Community Engagement

  1. I'm putting together a collection of scenarios of Catholic leadership as a means to teach Catholic leaders how to develop their own moral leadership compass. I'll preview a scenario each month and ask you to submit any ideas of Catholic school leadership moral dilemmas to catholicschoolmatters@gmail.com. This month's example:
  2. After noticing an increasing patterns of student absences around holidays and vacations, you have made it clear that you are tightening up attendance procedures. In fact, you have made accountability part of your theme for the year and have asked teachers to enforce homework and discipline policies. You have also made it clear that you will not allow any student to pass a grade with more than 10 unexcused absences per semester. One of your most supportive parent couples, however, is now contacting you with a request. At last year’s auction, they purchased a week at Disney World for $3,000. The father, a busy surgeon at the local hospital, serves on the Advisory Council. The mother, a social worker at the Catholic Charities service center, is a frequent volunteer. Their 7th grade son plays travel soccer and has missed 6 days this semester due to his soccer. Your school policy is that out of school activities are unexcused absences. Now the family is asking for a five day vacation for the only week they could arrange between both parents’ work schedules.

School Choice Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsKozJdeLhI

What I'm Up To

Last week, I joined other superintendents from the Intermountain region of the US in Albuquerque for fellowship and learning. Special thanks for Dr. Mike Boyle from the Greeley Center for joining us. This week, I'll be in the Big Apple learning about Catholic schools there. I'll be visiting many different types of schools and plan to podcast from there.


On this week's podcast, I have a great podcast panel (pictured at right) with Myles Mendoza of Empower Illinois, John Schoenig from ACE/Notre Dame, Courtney Collins-Shapiro from the Drexel Fund, and Jonathan Priest from Our Lady of Charity in Cicero. We discuss school choice, the success in Illinois, and forecast for the future.


Here is the link to the podcast. Here are videos showing you how to download and subscribe to a podcast on iTunes and how to download and subscribe a podcast on Android.


  • Monday: Travel to NYC
  • Tuesday: Visit Blessed Sacrament and Cristo Rey NYC
  • Wednesday: Visit Brilla Charter School
  • Thursday: Visit Holy Rosary & Immaculate Conception schools
  • Friday: return to Helena
  • Saturday: Great Falls fundraiser


Miles this week: 215 driving miles; 3,819 air miles

Miles travelled in 2018-19: 21,117 road miles; 38,533 air miles

Last 5 Books

  1. Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life (2014) by Nancy Tatom Ammerman
  2. Timothy O'Connell's Tend Your Own Garden: Sharing Our Core Values, Good People Make Tough Choices: Facing Everyday Value Conflicts, and Let Your Spirit Breathe: Living a Value-Based Life
  3. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (1999) by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, & Sheila Heen
  4. Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement (1992) by Thomas J. Sergiovanni
  5. Habits of the Heart: Individualism & Commitment in American Life (1985) by Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven Tipton

Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

  • Great article on the consolidation of schools in Great Falls here. If you have a minute, please read.
  • Here is the slideshow from the January 8th Virtual Admin Meeting
  • Administrator letters of intent can be found here
  • Information here on the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings Safe Environment education program for students (and deadlines)
  • We are currently looking for a principal for Holy Spirit Catholic School in Great Falls and for a president of Missoula Catholic Schools

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

January 13, 2019 "What's Your Story?"

January 6, 2018 "Happy New Year"

December 2, 2018 "Building Community"

November 18, 2018 "Reframing Enrollment"

November 4, 2018 "Looking at Disaffiliation"

October 21, 2018 "Getting out of the Ditch"

October 7, 2018 "Truth, Mercy, and the Synod"

September 23, 2018 "Native American Experience"

September 16, 2018 "How Are We Forming our Leaders?"

September 9, 2018 "Where is Your Attention?"