January 26, 2007


Taking a lead in Catholic education

(Listen to this editorial being read)

They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and if that’s the case then there’s reason for Office of Catholic Education officials in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to be wearing wider smiles as they celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week this year.

Why? Because some would say our archdiocese is among those setting the bar where Catholic education is concerned. At least, that’s what folks in the Archdiocese of Washington would tell you.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post ran a front-page story on how Catholic schools in our nation’s capital have rebounded from dropping test scores and enrollment, and taken a turn for the better in the past 10 years—thanks to borrowing from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ playbook, so to speak.

The Post story shares in detail how Washington Catholic school administrators and then-Cardinal James Hickey used our archdiocese as a model to find new success in educating young people.

The Washington archdiocesan schools adopted, among other things, two Archdiocese of Indianapolis education standards: the Saxon math program, which emphasizes basic skills and frequent overview, and the Open Court reading program, which emphasizes phonics. The standards were adopted, Washington Catholic schools officials said, because they received high marks from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports school choice and high academic standards, and because the Archdiocese of Indianapolis recommended them.

The transformation in Washington schools has been readily apparent in recent years as its Center City Consortium has reported solid, sustained gains in standardized testing. Does that formula for success sound familiar?

Add the fact that Washington-area teachers say higher learning standards have raised teacher morale and made good teachers more willing to stay there, and you can see how the changes have paid off in more ways than one.

The similarities in Indiana and Washington don’t end there. Both the late Cardinal Hickey and our Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein have used the following quote when asked about Catholic education and their archdiocese’s outreach to students of all faith traditions: “We don’t educate these children because they are Catholic. We educate them because we are Catholic.”

As you peruse our annual Catholic Schools’ Week supplement on pages 9 to 28 in this week’s issue, we know you won’t be surprised to find out there are many other reasons to celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week in central and southern Indiana and beyond.

From Richmond to Terre Haute, from Jeffersonville to the northern points of the archdiocese, there are tireless teachers, administrators, pastors, coaches and volunteers giving so much of themselves to educate our children. We cannot thank them enough.

But we also must remember that the teaching and success of our students doesn’t end there. As parents, grandparents and people of faith with a vested interest in today’s young people, we too are called to be Christ’s teachers. In fact, many would say home must be the place where a young person’s faith journey begins.

With that in mind:

  • We need to give young people the sustenance they need in learning about the faith.
  • We need to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel and the life of prayer we all need.
  • We need to give clear messages of what the Church teaches.

As disciples of Christ, we are all an extension of the teaching arm of the archbishop.

When it comes to passing on the faith, may we each do our part to make sure our children learn about the kingdom of God.

— Mike Krokos

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