03 August 2010

Archbishop Carlson Responds to the Catholic Schools Story

His Grace, Archbishop Robert Carlson has penned a guest commentary in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, addressing some of the issues raised in the paper's earlier article (covered in my post here) and laying out his plans for the Archdiocesan Catholic schools.

This commentary mostly addresses the importance of Catholic schools to the local community, the need to continue them, and a plan for ensuring their financial viability. He did not directly address the religious content of the schools curricula, but that is understandable considering the secular forum. From the full article:

A hardship we face together
By Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 12:00 am

Thank you for calling to your readers' attention the challenges facing Catholic schools here in St. Louis and throughout the United States in the story "Fewer pupils, less money" (July 28). Especially in today's uncertain economic times, parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools make real sacrifices. And our parishes and schools all are struggling to provide a quality Catholic education to every student — regardless of his or her family's financial ability.

... Our schools provide a values-based, disciplined approach to the education of children that forms the heart as well as the mind and the spirit as well as the body. Our goal is to help every child reach his or her full potential and, in the process, become a productive, contributing member of society. For many students, especially in urban areas, Catholic schools are a powerful means to break the cycle of poverty and economic dependency.

Our schools' record of success speaks for itself, but as your articles made clear, our parents and our schools face many economic challenges. I believe that Catholic schools are worth the investments that our parents, our parishes and our Archdiocese are making to ensure their success. Every year, Catholic schools in our community save taxpayers hundreds of millions in educational costs. We believe that fact alone makes the continuing success of Catholic schools a matter of strong public interest.

Last January, I announced that ensuring the health and vitality of Catholic schools is my number one priority as Archbishop of Saint Louis. My vision for Catholic schools is that they continue to be vibrant centers of educational excellence and religious formation. To accomplish this vision, I identified three priorities for every Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis:

• To increase awareness of the value and benefits of a Catholic school education.

• To increase enrollment.

• To achieve a stable financial base and help those who otherwise could not afford a Catholic school education.

This week, I am announcing a multi-year effort called the Mission Advancement Initiative for Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. This initiative is designed to help individual parishes and schools to increase awareness, enrollment and finances.

A team of experts — educators and fundraising professionals — from diverse regions of the United States is working with archdiocesan leaders and our Catholic Education Office to design and help implement this multi-year effort to strengthen and grow our Catholic schools.



B.J. said...

Although not about Catholic schools at all, in today's election, what are the thoughts out there on whether to vote Yes or No on Proposition "S" for capital improvements to St. Louis public schools? "No tax increase" because it is related to federal "stimulus money"...our taxes end up paying for it somehow, no?

Anonymous said...

"A team of experts" most often means wasted budget money to come up with the obvious answers. Professional fundraisers?!! That's always slayed me. Did the archdiocese really need to call in "experts" from afar to address the needs of Catholic schools? Aren't there pastoral issues to address? Perhaps encourage couples to be open to life? Encourage the faithful to support parish and other diocesan schools financially/volunteerism? Encourage faithful to take up vocation of teaching in diocesan schools? Find out why families are not sending their kids to diocesan schools? I'll design and conduct the survey, if they call me. I can do it on the cheap.

Maybe the archdiocese can engage an order (or more) of religious men and/or women to take up the mission of teaching at a particular school(s). I can imagine families beating down the door to attend a school where real live religious--especially if faithful to Catholic teaching--run it and teach. [Are the religious subject to state education and licensing requirements? That may have become another barrier to religious teaching in diocesan schools over the decades.]
On today's election, I hope Prop C, against O-care, passes in your state!

Anonymous said...

This 'initiative' sounds deeply depressing and short sighted. Their motto might as well be "Bail Faster!"

• Increase awareness? Who, exactly, is unaware of the benefits of a good Catholic education.

• Increase enrollment? From where? We have fewer Catholics who are having smaller families and an archdiocesan school system designed to handle many more children than we have now. You could increase enrollment significantly and it still wouldn't be enough.

• Achieve a stable financial base? With whose money? We're propping up a system that needs systemic change.