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Reinvigorating US Catholic Schools

Aug 24, 2023

Veteran Educator Outlines Her Vision for Reinvigorating US Catholic Schools: Interview of Mary Pat Donoghue by Zoe Romanowsky at National Catholic Register. Catholic education starts with the recognition that Jesus Christ is Logos and that the entire creation is an ordered whole in him and through him. So all knowledge coheres in him. In other words, there isn’t a separation or division between my study of science or math and my pursuit of Jesus Christ himself. Although we understand theology to enjoy that status as “queen of the sciences,” what we have come to realize is that when you recognize Christ as Logos, then other things flow from that, too, like the proper understanding of the human person. You will not arrive at a proper Christian anthropology following what secular curricula or textbooks present because they’re not based properly in that. Read


Independent Catholic Schools Foster Catholic Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus at Catholic Culture. Though Christendom College started with 26 students almost 50 years ago, it has since grown into a well-funded institution with room for over 500 students. Though Seton School also began with just a handful of students nearly 50 years ago, it has grown to the point of educating about 350 students each year. Moreover, Catholic communities have grown larger and more vibrant around both institutions…. The point is that sound Catholic educational institutions draw sound Catholic families like spiritual magnets, and of course sound dioceses with outstanding bishops and priests do the same. Read


Rising to Today’s Challenges by Helen Alvaré at What We Need Now. I begin by mentioning beautiful signs of light and life in the Church: the Eucharistic Revival, burgeoning new religious orders, the renewal of so many Catholic schools, and the devotion and activity of so many Catholic lay initiatives, to name just a few. But I might also say that many Catholics in the United States feel that the Church doesn’t always seem to live what she is—the continuation of Christ’s presence on earth, as He was, both human and divine. We know in her being she is a loving parent who is also of course, as parents are, a teacher, but the Church sometimes today doesn’t feel very motherly toward us, nor consistently confident in her role as teacher. Read


Welcoming All Learners: Parents Urge Catholic Schools to Serve Students With Special Needs by Matthew McDonald at National Catholic Register. Vincent de Paul Schmidt keeps a list of seven excuses he says he often hears from educators when they are asked about taking on students with special needs in Catholic schools: 1. It’s too much money. 2. The building isn’t set up for it…. To these, he responds with a definitive, if colorful, epithet. “I know there are limitations for us in Catholic school systems and things we can’t do. However, we clearly can do way, way more than we ever have in the past, and we need to do way, way more than we are now,” said [Vincent de Paul] Schmidt, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. Read


Follow the Science, Not the Crowd by William Kilpatrick at Crisis Magazine. The College Board recently claimed that the State of Florida has effectively banned its Advanced Placement Psychology Course. The Florida State Board of Education, on the other hand, contends that the AP Psychology Course will still be available provided the College Board modifies some content so that it is developmentally appropriate. The dispute is over the section of the AP course that deals with sexual orientation and gender identity. The latter, of course, touches on the subject of gender transitioning—and on whether there can, in fact, be such a thing…. After doing a bit of googling, I found a sample of an Advanced Placement test called “AP Psychology—Gender and Sexuality Review Quiz #9. The “quiz” contained 80 or so questions along with the correct answer for each question. Read


Denver Archdiocese Sues Colorado Over Preschool Program That Excludes Catholic Schools by Kevin J. Jones at National Catholic Register. The state of Colorado’s program to fund universal preschool unconstitutionally excludes Catholic preschools that want to participate in the program, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Denver-area parishes and the Archdiocese of Denver…. “Colorado did not have to create a universal preschool funding program, but in doing so it cannot implement that program in a way that excludes certain religious groups and providers based on their sincerely held religious beliefs,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by attorneys with the Becket legal group. Read


North Carolina Bans Child Sex Changes and Gives Parents More Educational Rights by Tyler Arnold at National Catholic Register. North Carolina lawmakers this week upheld bans on sex changes for kids, granted parents more rights in the public-school system, and set athletic standards that require students to participate in programs that align with their biological sex…. As a result of the measures, doctors in the state will be prohibited from performing “gender-reassignment” surgeries on minors, which is defined as any surgery designed to alter or remove a healthy part of the child’s body to create anatomical characteristics that would resemble the opposite sex. This includes both genital and nongenital surgeries. Genital surgeries include removing a child’s genitals to facilitate a so-called “gender transition” or altering the genitals to make them resemble the genitals of the opposite sex. Other procedures include the removal or addition of breasts, facial and vocal surgeries, and hair reconstruction. The prohibition on gender-transition drugs for children applies to puberty-blocking drugs, which seeks to delay or suppress normal physiological development during puberty. It also applies to hormone therapy when meant to change estrogen or testosterone to levels that would not be normal in a child for his or her given sex and age. Read


Legal Battles Over Pronoun Use Could Soon Land at Supreme Court by Jeremiah Poff at Washington Examiner. A growing number of lawsuits centering on whether or not public entities can force employees to use a person's preferred pronouns could eventually force the Supreme Court to decide the issue…. Tyson Langhofer, a senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Washington Examiner that there are an increasing number of cases centered on pronoun use and that they are becoming especially prevalent in K-12 public schools as several teachers have lost their jobs after invoking religious beliefs that prohibit them from using pronouns and names that do not correspond to a transgender student's claimed gender identity. Read


School Choice Group Goes on the Air to Squeeze GOP 2024 Candidates by Caitlin Oprysko at Politico. “Here’s a message every Republican presidential candidate should embrace: Parents deserve a choice in education,” the ad says, flashing images of several candidates. The spot points to school closures during the pandemic, accusing teachers’ unions and government officials who backed the closures of “leaving too many kids behind.” It goes on to tout the Educational Choice for Children Act, which has more than 140 Republican co-sponsors across both chambers of Congress and would provide $10 billion in tax credits—up to $5,000 or 10 percent of an individual’s income. In addition to the bill’s congressional GOP support, the proposal has also been backed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the conservative American Federation for Children and Heritage Action. “Now more than ever, empowering parents to ensure their children are getting the best education possible should be a top priority,” de Nicola said in a statement. “This scholarship tax credit will expand education freedom and opportunity for up to two million low- and middle-income students throughout the nation.” Read


Throwback Thursday


What Is the Future of Parochial Schools? by Peter Jesserer Smith at National Catholic Register on January 30, 2020. Some parochial schools have found new life by turning to the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE) model for K-12 education, which emphasizes the long-standing tradition of liberal education as developed by the Western Church. Elisabeth Sullivan, executive director of ICLE, told the Register that the approach is “authentic Catholic education because it captures the unity of faith and reason throughout the entire curriculum, in contrast to the secular, industrialized model.” Sullivan said the approach “works in all kinds of settings — urban and rural, affluent and low income, high-achieving and otherwise” — and has demonstrated results in reviving Catholic schools that otherwise might have died. She pointed to Holy Innocents School, which serves a predominantly Latino community in Long Beach, California, and has seen students more engaged and test scores rise since it made the transition last year. Approximately 75% of students, she said, are part of the free and reduced-fee lunch program. Read

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