Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Catholic Schools Super for Milwaukee Archdiocese; Is the Battle Joined?

This is interesting.

Former Arrowhead High School Superintendent Dave Lodes, who retired at the end of June, was named superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, overseeing its 13 secondary and 120 elementary schools in its 10-county area.

"This job is somewhat different. Unlike a school system, this is a system of schools," Lodes said.
Lodes described the leader of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, as an advocate of Catholic schools. Lodes' appointment fits in with the archdiocese's embarkation on the $105 million Faith In Our Future campaign to support Catholic education and faith formation in the archdiocese.

"The purpose of the campaign is, obviously, to continue the quality of Catholic schools and also to enhance facilities, curriculum, assessment and technology," Lodes said.

Lodes will report to the Director of Archdiocesan Schools, Chuck Allison IV.

He [Lodes] looks forward to promoting the Catholic education initiatives that are part of the $105 million Faith In Our Future capital campaign that the archdiocese launched last weekend. The one he mentioned most was the centers of excellence, scheduled to receive $6.85 million and which are designed to strengthen accreditation standards, enhance academic performance, provide professional development for teachers and to expand marketing of the schools.

The former Archbishop of Milwaukee did not have much use for Catholic parish schools, and was happy to force parishes to raise their tuition requirements (significantly, in some cases.)

There are implications here.

Over the last 10 years, at least four non-Archdiocesan, non-parochial Catholic schools have sprung up in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls, and Pewaukee. All of them have emphasized two advantages in comparison to parochial grade-schools: 1) More rigorous and complete religious education, using Catechisms NOT used by parochial schools, supplemented by Papal documents; and 2) More rigorous academic standards, including teaching Latin and algebra in the upper grades.

Not only have these 'alternative Catholic' schools survived, they have flourished. The former Archbishop of Milwaukee studiously ignored them and even barred them from using the term "Catholic" in their titles. The current Archbishop has been much more friendly, visiting the schools and engaging in productive conversations.

But there's something a bit ...odd...about having an alternative 'Catholic' school system in place and doing well, when running an "official" Catholic school system which is shrinking.

Time to order some popcorn.

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