Catholic School Matters
May 17, 2022
A Path Forward
Saturday’s mass shooting in East Buffalo was a terrible punch in the gut. It’s strange to be reflecting on a national tragedy that happened in your own backyard. It’s senseless. I’m not going to talk about mental health nor about assault rifles. And I’m not going the “thoughts and prayers” route either. I’m going to offer a few solutions to educators, Christians, and Americans. My concern is we had an 18 year old believing in white supremacy garbage and replacement theories. We have failed as a society when we fail to educate and form our youth in the truth. Our schools, our churches, our media have all played a part in this. We must work to reverse this pattern. Our schools need to teach critical thinking, our churches need to speak out about the sin of white supremacy and proclaim that black lives matter, and our media needs to stop spouting and echoing racist theories or be censored.
Last week, I saw an article in First Things entitled “The Sorry Situation of Catholic Schools.” I originally wrote a blog criticizing the author’s points and I was prepared to set the blog aside this week because the blog criticizes Catholic schools and my heart is stuck on last Saturday’s tragedy. Yet there is a connection between the author’s arguments and the toxic environment which led to Saturday’s shooting. The connection is threefold—the sowing of resentments, the use of bogeymen, and the anointing of the chosen.
I’m struck by the author’s argument in his third bullet. “’Diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are but soft names for identity politics, and sow resentment, not fellowship, poisoning children’s minds with tribal suspicions.” Yet earlier in the piece, the author says “Instead, they assign, for example, the politically-correct Give Me Liberty! An American History, by the leftist Columbia professor Eric Foner.” In that sentence, the author has impugned the reputation of a Pulitzer-prize winning historian who is regarded as one of the most important American historians of his era. Accusing Foner of being politically correct and leftist certainly violates the author’s very argument in the third bullet and plays to his own tribal tendency displayed in the journal. The tendency to vilify one’s opponents is recognized by the author—yet he can’t resist the temptation himself. It seems today that people cannot live if there’s someone who disagrees with him/her. Perhaps the only way is to demonize opponents.
The author drags out a familiar litany of bogeymen (Common Core, CRT, secularism, non-canonical texts) and misrepresents Common Core. It’s a set of standards in English and math that promote quality teaching and critical thinking. It’s not a curriculum and certainly shouldn’t impact individual curricular decisions in social studies or theology. Do our schools need help choosing better texts? Yes, absolutely. Do we all need to put in the effort to make sure that curricular designs reflect Catholic social teaching? Yes. Does that mean Catholic schools are in a sorry state? Hardly. The author instead chooses to sow fear in his readers by raising the specter of bogeymen like CRT. Last Saturday’s shooter was also a victim of this same type of fear-mongering, believing that African-Americans 200 miles away from his country town were threatening his future.
It seems the shooter was a subscriber to the replacement theory which holds that white Christians are being replaced by those who aren’t white or Christian. This is not a secret society, it’s a philosophy that has made its way into mainstream media and politics. Returning to the article, the author uplifts classical schools, calling them the most vibrant area of Catholic education and the “true believers” found there should be directing Catholic education writ large. In his mind, they are the anointed, the most deserving of our attention, and most qualified to direct the future of Catholic schools.
Classical Catholic schools have a place in the universe of Catholic schools and are a very valuable niche. But a much larger segment and even more vibrant are schools in the Cristo Rey and Nativity Miguel networks. Many more students are enrolled in schools like these designed to serve the poor and change the lives of poor families. These schools promise fundamental societal change and are cause for celebration. The number of parish and Diocesan inner-city schools serving the poor have declined, however, perhaps because their percentage of Catholic students is low. Nowhere is there more vibrancy than in the Catholic schools serving the poor.
We need to dedicate ourselves to fighting misinformation and teaching critical thinking, calling out the sin of white supremacy and the dangers of unfettered media propaganda. Please pray for the families who are navigating this terrible tragedy. Resources:
· Are We Doomed to Live in a Culture Where Fake News Wins? In EdSurge
· Why People Fall for Misinformation from Joseph Isaac
· Hard Truths About White Supremacy from America magazine
- Trauma Resources for Educators
- Coping with Grief after community violence
- Resource for coping after mass violence
- Resources for parents
- Aftermath of mass shootings
Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.
Dr. Tim Uhl
Kari Buchinger on Academics
X-STREAM Games 2022 was a huge success! Thank you to all of our principals, STREAM coordinators, teachers, and Siobhan Pawelczyk, our Diocesan STREAM Program Director. Your hardwork and commitment to STREAM in your schools made this day so special. Our Catholic School students did a tremendous job showing off their creativity and problem solving skills as they engaged in a plethora of STREAM challenges. We can’t wait to do this all again next school year!
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
Chris Riso on Government Services
5/20/22 Last Day to Register for Free UB Summer Graduate Classes
6/1/22 Last day for Parents to Request Special Education Services from Districts
6/10/22 Complete 2022-23 Professional Development Plan (Recommended)
6/17/22 Complete 12 Required Drills; Four must be Lockdown Drills
6/30/22 AIS Reimbursement Form Due to NYSED – Elementary Schools Only
7/1/22 First day 2022-2023 Textbook Orders are allowed
8/1/22 NYSED 2021-2022 MST/STEM Grant Submission Deadline
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
The principal of Mt. St. Mary HS stopped in to assist our principals in their case study work
- Language for Anti-Bullying & Harassment for your handbooks, addressing hate speech, and the Diocesan DEI statements can be found here. We'll be discussing these more in depth in any upcoming issue of Catholic School Matters.
- We recorded a few short videos on May 12th from our veteran principals offering new principals advice. I had never used iMovie before, this is my first attempt. This is an 8 1/2 minute video with five different voices.
- The Diocesan Health Scorecard.
- The "Shoot for the Stars" one-hour TV special.
- School Pastor's Administrative Guide
- The Executive Summary. of this year's school data.
- Video recording of All-schools Mass at OLV with Bishop Fisher. Here is the link to Dr. Uhl's talk.
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- Here's a link to the forms on our website.
- New Policy Manual
- New Operations Manual
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This week on the podcast, Kari Buchinger and I discuss the Diocesan Health Scorecards. We discuss how they came about, how they evolved, who was involved, and how we collected the information. Previous episodes:
- I take a look at controversies that have impacted Catholic schools. There is not a guest! It's just me exploring the issues. There is a resource page, too.
- Earlier this month, the podcast features a great panel to provide a primer on the latest Congregation for Catholic Education's document, "The Identity of a Catholic School for a Culture of Dialogue": Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach, the Executive Director of the Roche Center; Dr. John Piderit, SJ of the Roche Center; and Dr. Lauren Casella of Loyola Marymount.
- Dan Horn, the President/Principal of St. Genevieve Parish Schools, joins the podcast to discuss his successful turnarounds at two separate Catholic school sin the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Dan is a transformational leader whose story is inspiring
- John Reyes of the Roche Center joins the podcast to discuss his contribution to the "Cultivating Talent" report and his journey of leadership
- Dr. Elena Sada of the Roche Center joins me to discuss their ground-breaking report, Cultivating Talent, which investigates how to recruit and retain Hispanic educators in our Catholic schools. She also discusses bilingual Catholic education and the role of the TWIN-CS.
- Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, the President of the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities (ACCU) joins me to discuss the disruptions of the pandemic, the challenges to Catholic higher education, and leading with mission.
- Gloria Purvis joined me on the podcast to discuss Black Catholicism and racism in the Church
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Articles for Your Reflection
Bishops express sorrow, condemn racially motivated shooting in Buffalo
Above: Mourners in Buffalo, N.Y., react May 15, 2022, while attending a vigil for victims of the shooting the day before at a TOPS supermarket. Authorities say the mass shooting that left 10 people dead was racially motivated. (CNS photo/Brendan McDermid, Reuters) WASHINGTON (CNS) - Several U.S.
Are We Doomed to a Culture Where Fake News Wins? Not if Schools Can Help It - EdSurge News
One of the thoughts that burrows its way into my mind and simply won't let go is exactly how to help my students (and, for that matter, everyone I know) navigate the flood of information, dodge the misinformation and find their way to the truth. I recently picked up " Fact vs.
With Teacher Morale in the Tank, What's the Right Formula to Turn It Around?
More recognition, flexible schedules, and better pay are among the keys to improving teacher morale, a panel of education experts said in a candid discussion about a "profession in crisis." The panel was part of Education Week's three-day Leadership Symposium, a virtual event for district and school leaders to discuss issues impacting schools today, teacher morale high among them.
Why So Many Teachers Are Leaving, and Why Others Stay
Sponsored by Listenwise and Spinndle Over the past year, the internet has been full of stories of teachers leaving teaching. A recent NEA survey revealed that 55 percent of currently employed teachers are seriously thinking about leaving their jobs, and that number is even higher for teachers of color.
Daryl Hagan is leaving the Evansville Diocese superintendent role for national post
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Daryl Hagan is leaving his post as superintendent of Evansville's Catholic schools to head a newly created national program for accrediting Catholic schools. Hagan has been superintendent for 12 years in the Diocese of Evansville, overseeing 22 elementary and four high schools throughout Southwestern Indiana.
Sister Mary Henriella Kakol and Sister Mary Maxine Kaminski, teachers and school principals
Sister Mary Henriella Kakol, CSSF, May 17, 1925 - May 10, 2022 Sister Mary Maxine Kaminski, CSSF, March 17, 1927 - May 11, 2022 Sister Mary Henriella Kakol and Sister Mary Maxine Kaminski first encountered each other as boarding school students at Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy in Buffalo in the early 1940s.
My Last 5 Books
- Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience (2022) by Brené Brown
The Great Upheaval: Higher Education's Past, Present, and Uncertain Future (2021) by Arthur Levin & Scott Van Pelt
Collaborative Professionalism: When Teaching Together Means Learning for All (2018) by Andy Hargreaves & Michael T. O'Connor
40 Days with God: Time Out to Journey with the Bible (2021) by Kent Hickey
Strategic Planning for Parishes (2021) by Tad Dickel
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.