Author Archives: Dr. Tim Uhl | Superintendent

Oct 21st Newsletter

In today’s newsletter I tackle poor sportsmanship and the Good Samaritan.  What?  Trust me, it works in my head.  Read Cardinal Cupich’s reflection first.  I had a really tough time narrowing the articles down to the best five so I encourage you to meander through the newsletter and find something else interesting.  The Top 5:

  1. The two articles at the end of the American Catholic News section on the history of the Catholic Church (“What Happened to the Catholic Church?”) part 1 and part 2 are worth the effort.
  2. The first link in the Leadership section is entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions” and is fantastic. The Farnam Street blog discusses mental models, processes, and presents a bibliography on decision-making.  It’s a great resource.
  3. Another blogger who I regularly read is A.J. Juliani. At the beginning of the Teaching & Learning section, he writes “How to Win Friends and Influence Students” based on Dale Carnegie.  We could all use a reminder about how to build up goodwill at this time of year!
  4. The next article is entitled “Six Things Teachers Say with Good Intentions…But Shouldn’t” is a great reflection on what kinds of language works to promote learning and what doesn’t.
  5. At the end of the Miscellany section are two great articles on Fake News and a long video that is very well-done. You’ve probably heard too much about fake news and perhaps you don’t care.  But I think it’s important to stay informed and these are also great resources to share with students.  “How Private Information Helps Fake News Hoodwink the Public” and “Why Fake News Campaigns Are So Effective” are both from the University of Pennsylvania and are fascinating.  The longer video “Deepfake Videos are Getting Real and That’s a Problem” has serious implications for the future.

Oct 7th Newsletter

Here is a link to the October 7th newsletter.

I wade into the Bishop’s Synod on Young People in the blog section.  The pre-synodal documents are introduced and I also discuss a few of the controversies surrounding the synod.  On the podcast this week, I’ll talk to three theologians who will give background on the Synod as well as interpretations of the different positions.  It’s a great way to make current Church teachings relevant as they are being articulated.

Top 5:

  1. In the American Catholic news section, the first article entitled “Eight Lessons to Move Us Forward from the Sex Abuse Crisis” is a great read. It’s not about pity, not about despair, it’s about real action items that should guide us forward.  And yes, there need to be more parents in the room when decisions are being made.
  2. In the Leadership section, “Wander the Halls, Say Hello, A New Approach to School Safety” is a great reminder about the value of building relationships among teachers and students and the value of Management by Walking Around. It turns out, making your community a welcoming place where everyone feels like they belong is a great deterrent to school violence.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, “Helping Teachers Manage the Weight of Secondary Trauma” really hit home this week. In the American Catholic news section, I included an article about the return of normalcy at Butte Central Catholic Elementary.  Last week there were threats of violence (via email) to the school.  The weight of this trauma for teachers is substantial.  Many of our teachers have to bear this weight every day.  How are we ministering to the ministers?
  4. Great 3-minute video on “The Power of Expectations” serves as a great reminder to all of us on how expectations shape our teaching. This is from NPR’s “Invisibilia” podcast and includes an interview with Dr. Carol Dweck of growth mindset fame.
  5. In the Miscellany section, “Winner Take All: How Markets Favor the Few at the Expense of Many” is a great Farnam Street blog about how the attitude of ends justifying the means has infiltrated our mental models.

Sep 23rd Newsletter

In this week’s issue, I’m focusing on issues surrounding Native American Catholic schools, hoping to give you an introduction to the historical trauma caused by Catholic schools, a look at the current reality, and hoping to make an argument for ending the use of Indian mascots at Catholic schools (there are currently 14 American Catholic schools still using Indian mascots).  The Top 5:

  1. The Native Partnership details the history of Indian boarding schools in “American Indian Boarding Schools” which describes the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” philosophy which dominated Indian Board Schools—including, and perhaps especially, Indian Catholic boarding schools. Native traditions were not simply ignored, they were punished.  Boys’ hair was cut, native languages were prohibited, and native religious ceremonies were outlawed.  NPR had another article in “Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many” and NCR covered it in “Boarding Schools: A Black Hole of Native American History.”  These are the most important articles and I hope you take time to read them.
  2. There is great, important work being done at the remaining 24 Indian Catholic schools. The recent Washington Post article highlighted the great work in Indian Catholic schools and a EWTN segment also showcased the great work.
  3. The Washington Post ran a great story on how Native American mascots were proven to be harmful to Native Americans in “Sorry, Redskins fans, Native Americans mascots increase racial bias” NPR referenced the same study in “Can a Native American Mascot Cause Psychological Harm?”
  4. The National Council of American Indians came out with “Ending the Era of Harmful Indian Mascots” which included
  5. a great video entitled “Proud to Be

Sep 16th Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.

This issue is laser focused on Catholic schools and its leadership challenges.  As questions about power, accountability, and transparency swirl, we are challenged to apply lessons from this crisis.  We are challenged to create collaborative decision-making cultures.  We are all challenged to think about what being part of the Church involves—what part does dissent have?  How important is ideological purity?  Which comes first, doctrine or people?  These are not easy questions and there is certainly no easy answers.

My top 5:

  1. Read about the newly opened Cristo Rey high schools in Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Oakland. Five more schools are in development (Las Vegas, Miami, Richmond, San Diego, and Raleigh).
  2. I’ve heard of at least two other schools in development, including one for students battling addiction in the Diocese of Allentown. I’ll have the school’s founder on the podcast in a couple of months.
  3. Finally if you want to make sure you aware of all the developments in this current crisis, I recommend this podcast, these resources from Bishop Barron, and this reflection from Archbishop Gomez.

September 9th newsletter

Happy September!  The Catholic School Matters newsletter is back!  This issue, I’m sharing the best articles and links I came across this summer.  This year, I plan to publish fewer editions of the newsletter and make them more focused on one theme.  Next week, for example, I plan to catch up on news and events from the world of Catholic schools.  I’m also revamping the podcast to give it more of a radio feel with fresh interviews recorded close to the release date and multiple guests.  The Top 5 this week:

  1. As Catholic Options Dwindle, Middle Class Retreats from Private Schools”is a must read for every Catholic leader, board member, and especially every finance council member. We are losing the middle class in our Catholic schools!
  2. Archbishop Hunthausen passed away this summer. A Montana native and former bishop in Helena, he was the last living American Bishop to sit for all 4 sessions of Vatican II. Bishop Thomas provided a homilyfor the Stational Mass in Helena and  Mike Ryan provided a colorful and poignant homily in Seattle. It’s a remarkable collection of reflections for a remarkable prelate.
  3. How do you improve schools? Start by coaching principals, says new study” in We need to move beyond a compliance model and to a formation model.
  4. Deductive vs. Inductive Reasoning: Making Smarter Arguments, Better Decisions, and Stronger Conclusions” from the Farnam Street Blog (one of the weekly blogs I faithfully read). This is a great example of the quality of articles which help you think about thinking. Another great example was this summer’s “The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything.” I thought about this process for a month or more.
  5. Kent Hickey has presented a great analysis and call for action in Every Catholic, Lay and Clergy, is Called to Confront the Evil of Abuse.

Renewing our Commitment: January 15, 2018

Category : Podcasts

USCCB, 2005

Link to the document Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium

Most Rev. Robert Lynch, retired Bishop of St. Petersburg and former USSCB general secretary


Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium (US Bishops, 2005)

  • Reading Questions:
    • Whose responsibility is the support of Catholic schools?
    • What is the fourfold purpose of Catholic education?
    • In 1999, Pope John Paul II pointed out the mission of Catholic schools.  What was it?
    • Since 1990, where has the loss of Catholic school enrollment occurred?
    • What does the research say about the success of Catholic schools?
    • What percent of our educators are lay people?
    • The Bishops point to two areas essential for the ministry of education to grow.  What are they?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • In 1990, the Bishops committed to four goals.  How have they done?
    • In the section entitled “The Face of the Church,” the Bishops point to two different realities–affluent and immigrants.  Do you see those realities in your school?
    • The Bishops call on the entire Catholic community to support Catholic schools.  Is that part of your reality?
    • Why is it important for government to ensure school choice?
    • What are Blaine amendments?  Is there one in your state?
    • Has there been a strategic plan enacted?
    • What do the bishops say about serving the poor?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • In the section entitled “the Good News,” the Bishops express gratitude for the work of Catholic school educators.  Do you feel it?
    • How effective are the 4 goals?  Have they been started/accomplished?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes


Consecrated Persons & Their Mission in Schools: January 8, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Sacred Congregation for Education, 2002

Link to the document “Consecrated Persons & Their Mission in Schools”

Jack Peterson, the founder of Managing for Mission and a former president of Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, joins the podcast to discuss the impact of consecrated persons in our schools and the Vatican’s teachings on vocation.



Consecrated Persons and Their Mission in Schools (Vatican, 2002)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 6: Why have many religious communities abandoned their work in schools?
    • 6: What is meant by rediscovering charism?
    • 10: Explain the value of community life and how consecrated persons demonstrate?
    • 17: Do the Bishops favor one type of vocation over another?
    • 19: How does a school form students?
    • 20: What is the value of the witness provided by consecrated persons?
    • 26: How does the presence of consecrated religious counteract materialism?
    • 30: What is the link between Catholic schools and evangelization?
    • 35: Explain the two parts of human development relevant to education and formation.
    • 51: How do the Bishops describe Catholic identity?
    • 55: How do they describe a vocation?
    • 56: What is a culture of vocations?
    • 59: What is the role of consecrated persons promoting teacher formation?
    • 62: How should consecrated persons “accompany” the laity?
    • 78: What is the “main road to peace”?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • 6: What is the charism of your founding religious community?
    • 19: How does formation and “deformation” impact our students’ development?
    • 43: Our Catholic schools are not designed to be fortresses apart from society, rather “oases” or “microcosms” of community.  Does this paradigm fit your school community?
    • Do we have a “preferential option for the poor” in our schools?  In how we choose our students?  In how we assign our teachers?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • Many times religious communities are credited with simply providing free labor.  How do the Bishops describe their value to our schools?
    • Does your school serve the poor?  Is there an impulse for evangelization?
    • Does your school promote a culture of vocations?  How?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes


The Catholic School on the Threshold of the 3rd Millennium: January 1, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Sacred Congregation for Education, 1997

Link to the document The Catholic School on the Threshold of the 3rd Millennium

Rev. John Belmonte, SJ, the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Joliet, joins the podcast to explore the meaning of the Vatican document in 1997.


The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (Vatican, 1997)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 1: Define subjectivism, moral relativism, nihilism, and extreme pluralism.
    • 3: What is the missionary thrust of Catholic schools?
    • 6: What are the barriers to student success?
    • 7: Due to financial challenges, what is the temptation for Catholic school admissions?
    • 11: What is the ecclesial nature of the school?
    • 12: What is the vocation of a Catholic school?
    • 13: Why is the presence of consecrated religious valuable to a school?
    • 15: What is at the heart of a Catholic school?
    • 15: How do the Bishops describe poverty?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • If Christ is the foundation of Catholic schools, how does that impact your approach and practices?
    • Is your Catholic school at the heart of your diocese?  Why or why not?
    • 15: Does your school share the understanding of spiritual poverty?  Does it show concern?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • Whether or not your non-Catholic population has increased, can you sense any conflicts with Catholic values?  In other words, do you see any effects of “extreme pluralism” in your school(s)?
    • Does your school put “those who are weakest” or poor at the heart of its mission?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes


Principles for Education Reform in the United States: December 25, 2017

Category : Podcasts

United States Catholic Conference, 1994

Link to the document Principles for Ed Reform in the US

Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, the Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesisin the Archdiocese of Hartford, helps explore the meaning and impact for the US Bishops efforts to insert themselves into the national debate on education in 1994.


Principles for Education Reform in the US (US Bishops, 1994)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 2nd paragraph: what is “filling” the educational experience” of our youth?
    • 4th paragraph: how do the bishops describe the success of Catholic schools?
    • What are the four beliefs pertaining to Section 1?
    • What are the 8 beliefs pertaining to Section 2?
    • What are the 7 beliefs pertaining to Section 3?
    • What are the 8 beliefs pertaining to Section 4?
    • What are the 4 beliefs in Section 5?


  • Discussion Questions:
    • In the first and fifth paragraphs, the Bishops point out that the document is not private v. public schools.  Why do you think the Bishops want to get involved?
    • In Section 4, the Bishops point out the importance of professional development.  How important is professional development in your school system?  (Show me your budget, I’ll show you your priorities!)
    • In their argument for school choice, they call for the government to be neutral toward religion.  What does this mean?
    • What is meant by the “common good” argument for Catholic schools?


  • Reflection Questions:
    • If serving the “true needs of children” was the highest priority for your school(s), how would that change priorities?
    • List 1-2  quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes


In Support of Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools: December 18, 2017

Category : Podcasts

United States Catholic Conference, 1990

Link to the document In Support of Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools

Dr. Kevin Baxter, the Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, adds remarkable insight to the US Bishops document from 1990.



In Support of Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools (US Bishops, 1990)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 181: What is meant by “entire ecclesial community”?
    • 182: What has been one of the chief vehicles of evangelization within the Black community?
    • 182: What are the 7 successes of the Catholic school system?
    • 183: What are the 4 goals set by the Bishops in 1990?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • 183: The document cites a “lack of consistency” in the relationship between the laity and the Church.  Has that been your experience?  Can you think of any examples?
    • How  well do our salaries and benefits reflect economic justice?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • The Bishops point out that many of the reforms proposed for public education have long been associated with Catholic schools.  What are the best practices of your school(s) that have been replicated?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes