School Choice Issue

School Choice Issue

In this week’s Catholic School Matters newsletter I’m presenting a collection of articles and links on School Choice.  It’s an opportunity to connect your work and interests to this growing movement for students.  The Top 5:

  1. Catholic Education Partners (you really should get to know this group if you haven’t already) published a great article in NCEA’s Momentum “The Impact of Education Choice on Catholic Education
  2. EdChoice published a great compilation “The ABCs of School Choice 2018 Edition” for the all the latest news and information.
  3. The Atlantic’s “Support for School Choice and Vouchers is on the Rise” is a great summary of the education landscape
  4. Forbes produced a great summary “Charter Schools, Vouchers, and ESAs: The Three Flavors of School Choice” although they leave out tax credit scholarships in the title.
  5. It’s always a great idea to read what your opponents are saying. NPR’s “Why It’s So Hard to Know Whether School Choice is Working” does just that.

Jan 13th Newsletter

As we build toward Catholic Schools Week, this week’s issue is focused on building your school’s story.  As I say in the blog, I’m not an accomplished story-teller so I challenge us all to identify stories about our schools that testify to our school’s culture.  I offer 12 story prompts to get you thinking.

Top 5:

  1. In the Leadership section, the HBR article “How Retail Changes When Algorithms Curate Everything We Buy” challenges us to rethink how education is going to change as we incorporate personalized learning through technology.
  2. In the Teaching & Learning section, John Spencer had a great blog post for teachers entitled “The Power of a Mid-Year Reboot” full of great suggestions for teachers.
  3. There are three great articles on classroom management. It seems like classroom management problems really start to manifest during this time so these are great resources for teachers: Larry Ferlazzo’s “Classroom Management—Redirecting Without Escalating,” Vicki Davis’s “Never Yell and Other Classroom Management Secrets from a Pro Teacher,” and “To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions” from Jessica Lahey.  (an aside—did you know that when Jess Lahey is travelling she will go into bookstores and surreptitiously sign copies of her books with inspirational messages?  How cool is that?)
  4. In the Miscellany section, “Inside One of America’s First Catholic-to-Charter Conversions” is the story of one Washington, DC charter school (which used to be Catholic). Though you might disagree with the decision, it never hurts to read the story.
  5. Deconstructing the Wall” from the New York Times is full of great lesson suggestions for teachers to talk about the wall. Students are talking about it and I think we’re all looking for constructive ways to capitalize on the conversation.

January 6th newsletter

Here is the link to the January 6th newsletter

The Top 5:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, I have a special section on legal concerns. There’s quite a few articles which raise issues such as church-state relations, employment contracts, pregnancy, embezzlement, past abuse, etc.  We need to read these articles and imagine how we would respond if faced with the same dilemmas.
  2. In the Leadership section, “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.
  3. In the same section, the 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?
  4. In the Miscellaneous section, the “Relentlessness of Modern Parenting” from the New York Times points out the reasons behind the anxiety epidemic. Parents are often the ones afraid of missing out!
  5. Small classes and personal attention have become aspirational for all schools. But they weren’t always such high priorities.  A Libertarian entrepreneur has been building low-cost charter schools with a different approach.  While you might not agree with his approach or his assumptions, it’s worth watching this video in order to clarify your own assumptions.

Dec 2nd Newsletter

Here is the link to the Dec 2nd Newsletter.  This week, I blog about the need for dialogue in our schools in order to foster stronger faith communities.  We need healing and we need to lead through dialogue, not condemnation.

My top 5 of this week:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, I lead off with two good news stories. The first is a story about the Berks Catholic HS student diagnosed with brain cancer.  The community has rallied around Anthony Meyers (who had successful surgery last week) and illustrates a high-functioning Catholic school community.  The second article was the offer by the Diocese of Sacramento for free tuition for all students displaced by the devastating fires.  Well done!
  2. In the leadership section the first article by Jack Peterson of Managing for Mission is a great reflection on the President-Principal relationship. Notice the word “relationship.”  When we talk about intentionally building community, it’s important to put our organizational charts in terms of relationships.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first article by Jessica Lander “Why School Counselors Matter” is a great piece. When schools look to cut costs, the school counselor position often comes up.  Lander provides a good argument against this.
  4. The next article about personalized learning from Mind/Shift is a great reflection on the different meanings and controversies surrounding personalized learning.
  5. In the Miscellaneous section, the first article addresses the polarization in the Church right now.

Nov 21st Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.  The Top 5:

  1. I offer three great articles from NCR in the American Catholic News section all on the abuse crisis. “Culture Plays Role in US Hispanics’ Muted Response to Abuse Crisis” is an interesting look at how Hispanic Catholics are viewing the current situation.  “University Panels ask How Church Should Emerge from Crisis” is more of an overview of efforts to make sense of the current situation while “Panel Examines How Church Culture Enables Abuse Crisis” is a bit of a deeper dive into the causes.
  2. I’m offering 3 of my favorite articles from this fall’s Journal of Catholic Education. Patrick Manning’s take on the Catholic imagination and disaffiliation is a fantastic read.
  3. 5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success” from HBR is an interesting read because school leaders are usually turned to as the experts in the room.
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first two articles are from Jennifer Gonzalez of the “Cult of Pedagogy” blog fame. Both articles are really interesting reads: “Why We Need to See Each Other Teach” is a call for teachers to observe each other and “To Learn, Students Need to DO Something” is a great message on moving away from teacher-centered instruction.
  5. In the Miscellany section, The American Council on Education issued a report on the racial unrestat the University of Missouri. It’s a long read but an interesting study of the context of the controversy as well as the fallout.

November 4th newsletter

In this week’s newsletter I blog about the problem of disaffiliation with the Church and have a number of great resources to share in this area.  Top 5:

  1. Saint Mary’s Press has gathered a number of video testimonies from young people who have left the Church.
  2. Joe Corpora wrote a great essay on the “Joy of Missing Out” for Notre Dame’s student newspaper that is worth a read.
  3. The New York Times profile of Catholics struggling with staying or leaving the Church is a great piece.
  4. The Vatican summary of the Bishop’s Synod on Young People is worth reading.
  5. In the Miscellany section, the special “12 Years of Brain Pickings” is chock full of great long reads. Maria Popova’s weekly blog is a constant source of intellectual stimulation.  You’re bound to find something interesting to read.

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.