Catholic School Matters

January 6, 2019

Happy New Year!

After a short hiatus, Catholic School Matters is back! For the next 6 weeks, you’ll be getting the newsletter. This is an important time for us as we build toward Catholic Schools Week, a time to remind ourselves why Catholic schools are important and what makes our schools such a fantastic investment. Stories like this one on the Cristo Rey network or this one on the expansion of inclusion programs in New Orleans Catholic schools or this article celebrating a classical Catholic school including children with Down Syndrome are cause to celebrate. I came across a few interesting articles over the past few weeks:


· “Schools as Places of Joy” is a reminder of what makes every school excellent—joy. We can’t leave out the joy in pursuit of excellence.

· “Bowling Together” from Education Next is a long read centering on civic participation and social capital. The title is a reference to David Putnam’s work.

· Pope Francis encouraged his brother Jesuits to be present in the ‘deserts of humanity’ which served as a great reminder of their mission while the Jesuits released their lists of priests/brothers accused of abuse.

· This article from the Wharton School on “Does Fear Motivate Workers—or Make Things Worse?” is thought-provoking. We often try to move students away from extrinsic rewards toward the intrinsic motivators but are we doing the same for our staffs?

· Daniel Kahneman’s analysis of the value of intuition is a great read.

· Highlights from 2018’s education research and Top 20 education articles from Education Next. One of the articles was on The Role of Catholic Schools in Education Choice Programs. Follow that up with this video from North Carolina. A Libertarian has been building low-cost charter schools. While you might not agree with his approach or his assumptions, it’s worth watching this video.

· Stephanie Saroki de Garcia of Seton Partners represents Catholic schools well in her interview with Rick Hess in Education Next. My favorite quote: “Catholic schools understand—better than any other kind of school—what it truly means to be human.”

· In New Zealand, the National Centre for Religious Studies has come up with guidelines for gender complexity issues.

· In Catholic School legal news, an unmarried teacher claims that she was fired for being pregnant, a couple of nuns in Los Angeles embezzled church funds and the Archdiocese decided to press charges, a St. Paul private school’s attempt to raze a former Catholic church raises concerns, there is quite a ruckus in Calgary surrounding Catholic school contracts, a Catholic school is not exempt from fired teacher’s ADA suit, a former Catholic school teacher alleges anti-Semitism, a Maryland Catholic school counselor is accused of abuse from the past, and Guerin Catholic HS in Indiana has been in the news for a bullying situation.

· In Catholic School News surrounding opening/closing schools, a Lincoln Catholic school will close, an Ohio Catholic school hangs in the balance, and a southside Chicago school must raise $160k to stay open.

· “How a Later School Start Time Pays Off for Teens” from Mind/Shift is a look at the impact of this innovation in Seattle.

· A story on “Buddy Benches” just might the kind of little innovation that makes a big difference at your school.

· Relationships are important, right? How about the most important thing? “Want a Happier, More Fulfilling Life?” 75-year Harvard study confirms this. This will be a relief for parents, as the “Relentlessness of Modern Parenting” from the New York Times points out.

· This story on Native American students in public schools should give you pause. On this same theme, here’s a great article on Sharon LaForge, the heroine of Counting Coup.

· Another longer read is “Shame Storm” about how online shaming can work to destroy people’s reputation instantly.


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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.

American Catholic News

Catholic School Legal Concerns

An unmarried teacher claims that she was fired for being pregnant, a couple of nuns in Los Angeles embezzled church funds and the Archdiocese decided to press charges, a St. Paul private school’s attempt to raze a former Catholic church raises concerns, there is quite a ruckus in Calgary surrounding Catholic school contracts, a Catholic school is not exempt from fired teacher’s ADA suit, a former Catholic school teacher alleges anti-Semitism, a former Catholic school teacher from Torrance (the same school embroiled in the embezzlement scandal above) alleges she was fired while suffering from cancer; a Maryland Catholic school counselor is accused of abuse from the past, and Guerin Catholic HS in Indiana has been in the news for a bullying situation. I'm sure there are many sides to all of these stories. I am not sharing them to place blame or implicate--only to make you aware of legal concerns that have arisen.

Catholic Schools Opening & Closing

A Lincoln Catholic school will close, an Ohio Catholic school hangs in the balance, and a southside Chicago school must raise $160k to stay open.

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning

Miscellany

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=gOJiayZoNDI

What I'm Up To

I'm flying back to Helena today (Sunday) after another Reform Leaders' Summit in Tampa. This is part of ACE's efforts for school choice and is made up of Catholic school leaders from all around the country. I'll be spending most of the week in the office as I get things pointed in the right direction for 2019.


Just as the newsletter is being published 6 weeks in a row, I have 6 great podcasts lined up, too and they'll drop every Wednesday. This week, I have a great episode on disaffiliation. The Catholic School Matters Radio Hour begins with theologian Dr. Julie Rubio from the Jesuit School of Theology. She shares her insights and her work. Next, John Vitek, the CEO of Saint Mary's Press, discusses the "Going, Going, Gone" publication and the insights from the study of disaffiliation. Finally, Dr. Patrick Manning, a former ACE teacher and now a professor at Seton Hall, discusses his work on the deep roots of disaffiliation. To prepare, here's a great NCR article on disaffiliation.


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: Office (Helena)
  • Tuesday: Virtual Admin Meetings at 9 am & 1 pm
  • Wednesday: Office (Helena) with podcast with Mike Patin & WCEA training for Guam Catholic schools
  • Thursday:Office (Helena)
  • Friday: Visit to Butte Catholic Schools


Miles this week: 151 driving miles; 2,648 air miles

Miles travelled in 2018-19: 20,721 road miles; 34,097 air miles

Last 5 Books

  1. Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement (1992) by Thomas J. Sergiovanni
  2. Habits of the Heart: Individualism & Commitment in American Life (1985) by Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven Tipton
  3. Making Disciples: A Handbook of Christian Moral Formation (1998) by Timothy E. O'Connell
  4. Rethinking Leadership: A Collection of Articles (2007) by Thomas J. Sergiovanni
  5. The Catholic Imagination (2000) by Andrew Greeley

Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

  • Here is the slideshow for 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

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?"