Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Policy in 2009 - The Future of Catholic Schools (A Continuation)

The issue regarding the future of Catholic schools in this Archdiocese continues. This is a very long you will need to scroll down quite a bit.

For a copy of the Policy in 2009, created by the Archdiocese, you may go to Restore DC Catholicism.

The following email was distributed to a number of people by someone regarding the Policy in 2009. Here is what I have:

THE ARCHDIOCESE OF WASHINGTON D.C. IS CURRENTLY CONDUCTING “CONSULATION MEETINGS” in order TO CLOSE OR CONSOLIDATE THE PARISH SCHOOLS IN Montgomery Co. and northwest D.C.. These meetings have been not publicly announced; they have not been mentioned in either the Catholic Standard or your Parish Bulletin, even though you WILL BE directly affected by the Archdiocese plan. The closing of schools is not parish or school generated; this is from the Archdiocese with only minimal input from parents and parish administrators. Every school and parish in Montgomery County and upper Northwest D.C. will be affected. You need to be informed before it is too late. For more information on this or callJane Belford or Tom Burnford at the Archdiocese. 301-853-3800 they are conducting the consolation meetings. An arbitrary date of May 9 has been set by the Archdiocese. Ask to have this date extended, so all Catholic parents and parishioners can be part of the process. Ask to have the “consultation meetings” open for all, not just a few chosen individuals.

Without the backbone of Parish Parochial Schools the religious and social fabric of our community is enormously affected. The role of the Parish and the Parish priest is greatly diminished. The transmission of our Faith is adversely affected.

Susan Gibbs, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington DC, responded with the following email as well as an article from the Catholic Standard (which is not attached here):

It recently came to my attention that you received an email with incorrect information about the Archdiocese of Washington and its Catholic schools. It is unfortunate that this would have been circulated. Of course, readers of the Catholic Standard, which has extensively covered Catholic education in the archdiocese, including recent consultations to develop general school policies, would already know the information you received was wrong. For others, I have attached an April 1 article from the Catholic Standard that may be of interest.
In fact, the most recent consultations (those referenced in the email you received) are simply the latest step in an 18-month process to develop general school policies in four key areas: Catholic identity, academic excellence, affordability and accessibility. The goal is to strengthen Catholic schools and the support for Catholic schools across the archdiocese now and into the future.

The process began in October 2007 when Archbishop Wuerl convened a Convocation on Catholic Education, with clergy, principals and parishioners from all across the archdiocese. The four key areas were identified at that meeting, and also were discussed in Archbishop Wuerl’s 2008 pastoral letter on education, available on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website,

Following the convocation, task forces were formed to focus on each key area. More than 50 people were part of these groups, which undertook significant research into local and national practices, policies and recommendations. In addition, nearly 1,600 priests, educators, parish staff and parents responded to surveys about Catholic education and policy. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a nationally-recognized Catholic research non-profit, also conducted a series of focus groups with local clergy, educators and parents.

In addition, the Priest Council, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Archdiocesan Administrative Board, independent school leaders and the Board of Education all have been consulted. All of this input became the foundation for draft school policy options in the four areas of Catholic identity, academic excellence, affordability and accessibility. Draft policies were developed and over 1,000 people – clergy, educators, parents and other parish representatives – from all over the archdiocese were invited to review the draft options and provide feedback and suggestions at a series of eight meetings held in April. The meetings were in DC, Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and St. Mary’s County.

In addition, participants were invited to follow up and share any additional thoughts about the draft policy options via email.

The goal of this extensive planning process has been to renew and strengthen our efforts to pass on the faith. As Archbishop Wuerl stated in his 2008 pastoral letter, Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence, "Catholic education is the responsibility of the whole Church....We look to the future of Catholic education throughout our archdiocese with the hope to renew in the hearts of all the members of this Church a sense of ownership of all of the expressions of education, particularly our schools."

Thank you and please keep reading the Catholic Standard for its ongoing coverage of this extended planning process.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Washington

As I see it, the only thing that she attempted to correct was the consultation part, not the closing of schools.

In fact, I have heard from two different people, who attended two different meetings and both came to the same conclusion: the Archdiocese of Washington DC would close/merge schools.

I also spoke to a third person who attended a meeting (not certain which one) and when the question was posed about the closing of schools, the person did not answer the question.

Tomorrow, my letter to Ms. Gibbs and her response.


Anonymous said...

The fact that no one knew of
these "meetings" speaks volumes. The contempt that the Archdiocese, and that includes Mike Kelly, Jane Belford, Thomas Bumford,and the rest of the "Steering Committee for the Future of Catholic Education" (who curiously want to remain anonymous) have for the faithful Catholic who naively believes the Archdiocese has their best interests at heart is outrageous!
Let's challenge The Archdiocese spokespeople to a meeting where the ordinary Catholic parishioner gets to choose who attends. Let the parents of the students know about these closings and let them come to this meeting. Put this in Parish Sunday bulletins and put flyers in backpacks. This would be truly be informing parents, who are the true stakeholders, what the Archdiocese plans. Not the hand picked individuals who are willing to go along with out challenging the Archdiocese.
The request is simple. Archdiocese spokespeople COME OUT FROM HIDING!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Gibbs,
There has been nothing about these "consultations" published in our parish bulletin. I wonder why this is the case. The Archdiocese pulled a similar stunt last year with the phony charter school conversion process. Remember how that worked? The Archdiocese held "consultations" and in the end, about eight people, some of whom had clear conflicts of interest made the decision. The result was a new system of "values based" charter schools. The value of these schools appears to be similar to the value of General Motors, something parishes associated with these schools will soon find out.