Sunday, August 16, 2015

Archdiocese moving to strengthen Milwaukee's Catholic school system

Alan J. Borsuk in a Commentary on Education column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel starts by saying Milwaukee's Catholic schools haven't fared as badly as some, but goes on to note that isn't saying much.
"Enrollment in all Catholic schools fell from 5.2 million in 1960 to 2 million in 2014, a drop of more than 60%. Hundreds of parish schools have closed. Put it this way: Total Catholic enrollment in 2014 was slightly higher than in 1920."
My usual take is to note how complacent the Church has been, as opposed to a for-profit organization posting similar results.
"until now, if you want to see innovation and high octane education, Catholic schools were not promising places to look. The era of strict nuns at the heart of school life was gone, but many parish schools had stuck with established ways. (The Lutheran LUMIN and HOPE schools and St. Marcus Lutheran elementary school were better places to look for ambitious change.)"
The nuns are gone, so all hail the LCWR; but I digress.

If you've experienced the liturgical consultant or fund-raising consultant, you might anticipate what's next.
"The Archdiocese brought in consultants from Notre Dame University to assess the urban Catholic schools. Their reports criticized the leadership, educational practices and faith-building work of many of the schools."
It's as if it's been no one's job to oversee this.
"Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said, 'A great drumbeat for fundamental change in our program' arose.

"The new effort — officially titled Seton Catholic Schools — is a result."
Here's the elevator explanation.
"Don Drees, project manager for the Seton effort, said the focus will be on three areas: educational improvements, including consistent curriculum among schools; improved religious education; and improved governance.

"Kathleen Cepelka, superintendent of archdiocese schools, said each school will keep its own identity, but there will be a strong centralized push for quality, with principals as a key focus. 'Leadership is everything,' she said."
The obvious questions being where has leadership been, and given that lack, where will it come from.
"The logo of the new initiative includes the line, 'Transforming Urban Education.' That is an appealing goal that the voucher opportunity has not brought Milwaukee Catholic schools so far."
And giving priority to a logo and a slogan has not been a good sign in the past. But at least there's no reference to a New Pentecost, so we'll hope for the best.


  1. The best way to "strengthen" Catholic schools is first to increase the birth rate and second to get rid of all the Weakland people who are stuck in the 70's.

    1. You make a bold statement, yet refuse to identify yourself

  2. Yes. We will have completely-transformed grade-schools under the completely-identical management!

    Remember that old joke about the prison-camp "new underwear"?

  3. Catholic education seems to mean only attendance at a Catholic day school. What about other Catholic children who attend non-religious schools? Do they not have any need for Catholic education? Shuffle some well-meaning volunteers into classrooms in the late afternoon or evening. We believe Catholic school parents are real Catholics and these other piker parents are not. Maybe some serious money for all Catholic children in all educational settings instead of the current model.


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