Roundtable needed for the future of Catholic education

Need to hear all sides

Catholic education needs a roundtable to include all important stakeholders, writes Rodger van Allen in America.

Round tables have advantages. A round table has no head and confers a respectfully equal status on those who sit around it. The presence of a round table at the Paris Peace Talks helped end the Vietnam War in 1973. The legendary round table of King Arthur helped bring peace. And since it was easy to pull up an additional chair, Arthur reportedly invited those from distant kingdoms to join him at it.

Catholic education today does not face Arthur’s problem of feuding nobles, but gathering Catholic educators and those who care about Catholic education into respectful and inclusive dialogue is an important step toward the bright and creative future that all desire.

While researching Catholic education in Philadelphia since the Second Vatican Council, for a chapter in a forthcoming book on urban Catholic education, I was granted observer status at an admirable series of roundtable discussions convened by the Centre for Catholic Urban Education at Saint Joseph’s University.

These meetings have brought together some 50 or more interested parties, including leaders of the office of Catholic education in the dioceses of Philadelphia and Camden; leaders of other Catholic school models, including the Gesu School, LaSalle Academy, Cristo Rey and others; Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools; the Connelly Foundation; the Maguire Foundation; leaders of the Philadelphia School Partnership; the Catholic School Development Program; several other Philadelphia foundations; and administrators from 11 area Catholic colleges and universities.

One of the roundtable’s first actions was to welcome the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. Another session dealt with issues of sustainability and competitiveness following the release of the Blue Ribbon Commission Report 'Faith in the Future: Sustainable Catholic Education for All Who Desire It,' which proposed the closure of 48 schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Another meeting featured working groups on the future of teaching in Catholic schools and on early childhood education.

FULL STORY Hearing all sides on the future of Catholic education (America)

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