Cardinal Francis George | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: April 27, 2013 6:09AM
A March 20 op-ed by Sean Kennedy [“Children Need Leaders to Save Catholic Schools”] begins and ends with a strong premise: Catholic Schools not only can be “saved,” they can thrive with leadership and vision. No argument there — ever.
It was ironic, however, that his words were printed the day before the School Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools released its detailed and carefully vetted Strategic Plan. These leaders not only captured much of what Mr. Kennedy may be looking for but validated it with examples of successful Chicago turnarounds in enrollment, finance and academic program. Hopeful yet realistic, it calls for creativity and best practice to fuel the engine that can grow our system.
The support and leadership of Cardinal George has for years prevented wholesale closures, especially in the most challenged neighborhoods. The selective closings this year were made with deep regret as a part of a total fiscal protocol for the Archdiocese — and with a resolution to continue to implement strong practice to stabilize and then grow. We are committed to serving a growing number of students, regardless of the number of schools that requires. It’s why our leaders are working toward a scholarship fund that will have an immense impact on families who want what we offer. Quality. Students. That is the focus. Within the Chicago city limits, enrollment has grown for three years with the leadership of pastors in rapidly growing areas of the city and the leadership of the Big Shoulders Fund in neighborhoods of most need. Local leadership — our principals — are the true “boots on the ground,” knowing the work it takes to get “more kids in great Catholic schools.” New resources in the school office — and, yes, blended learning — already are on the way.
We have miles to go before we sleep — but we have the mile‑markers. The people of the Archdiocese have the will and the generosity. Mr. Kennedy, work with us here.
Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, O.P., superintendent,
Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools
Meigs was a better use
A 30,000-seat seat concert venue? Nice. But it will be used on Northerly Island only a few months a year, whereas the former Meigs Field airport operated a lot longer and brought in a heck of a lot more money to the broke City of Chicago.
P. Gary Crawford, Bronzeville
Lesson of a science fair
Several years ago, I was honored to be a judge at the South Side’s Ralph Bunche Elementary School science fair. What impressed me were displays of electronic experiments and phenomena caused by weather and environment, and not just potatoes growing in water-filled containers.
I realized the exhibitors weren’t representative of Bunche’s student body as a whole, but they demonstrated what can be done by a nurturing faculty. It would be unfortunate if schools like Bunche were closed. I also realize that the recent decision to close some schools is a financial as well as educational one, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
By the way, a representative of the Chicago Police Department’s CAP program also attended the science fair, which showed students that police supported positive community activities and didn’t spend all the time pursuing gangs.
Hosea L. Martin, Douglas