St. Saviour

Lessons From Catholic Schools for Public Educators

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

Within the 242 pages of Diane Ravitch’s lightning rod of a book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” there appear exactly three references to Catholic education. Which makes sense, given that Ms. Ravitch is addressing and deploring recent efforts to reform public schools with extensive testing and increasing privatization.

Yet what subtly informs both her critique and her recommendations for improving public schools is, in significant measure, her long study of and admiration for Roman Catholic education, especially in serving low-income black and Hispanic students.

In that respect, Ms. Ravitch and her book offer evidence of how some public-education scholars and reformers have been learning from what Catholic education is doing right. What one might call the Catholic-school model is perhaps the most unappreciated influence on the nation’s public-education debate.

“If you’re serious about education reform, you have to pay attention to what Catholic schools are doing,” said Joseph P. Viteritti, a professor of public policy at Hunter College who has edited four books with Ms. Ravitch. “The fact of the matter is that they’ve been educating urban kids better than they’re being educated elsewhere.”

When Ms. Ravitch assails the emphasis on standardized testing, particularly under the No Child Left Behind law, and when she exhorts schools to use a content-rich core curriculum and emphasize character and build ties to parents and neighborhoods, she is, without overtly saying so, extolling the essential traits of Catholic education.

The message, in turn, may be reaching a larger audience than ever through the book. With 50,000 copies in print, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” has put Ms. Ravitch on The New York Times best-seller list for the first time in her 36-year, 24-book career as an author on education history and policy.

Part of the buzz has to do with the perception — actually, the misperception — that Ms. Ravitch has disavowed her previous dogma. While she does admit to “having fallen for the latest panaceas and miracle cures,” like charter schools and the No Child law, she also espouses positions that have been in her educational platform for decades. And many of them reflect the influence of Catholic education.  (Click here to read entire article)


Parishioners suffer through one more rejection

In 1 on March 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

As previously noted, parishioners of St. Saviour Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn were relieved in December to finally have an opportunity to be invited to speak inside the church, rather than having to protest outside in the cold.  A trained Facilitator was brought in to first speak with Fr. Murphy’s councils.   This meeting took place in November of 2009.  Then the Facilitator requested a meeting with a small fraction of protesting parishioners.  This meeting took place in mid-December 2009, and did much to lift the spirits of those parishioners struggling to understand the ongoing schism in their formerly peaceful parish.  The final stage of the facilitation process was to be a meeting of church council members and parishioners.  It would have been the first opportunity for the two groups to meet face to face and discuss areas of concern.  The last time members of these two groups met was in September when 17 parishioners showed up to fill the open positions on the Pastoral Planning Council.  This meeting was meant to be the first step in a two phase process of discernment onto this important council.  Prior to the second meeting, parishioners were contacted and told that there would not be a second meeting, and that the Pastoral Planning Council would not be filling its open positions.  Parishioners wanting to participate in their church did not give up.  Instead they protested outside the rectory while Fr. Murphy’s councils met inside.  This led to the initiation of the facilitation process.

What parishioners discovered in the new year was that there was not going to be a third facilitation meeting even though both parties were prepared with designated speakers.   The facilitation could only proceed if the pastor was willing to allow it and clearly this was just another indication of the pastor’s unwillingness to let the parish heal.  Both the Pastoral Planning Council and the Parishioners were ready and eager to finally meet face to face, but have been frustrated by the cancellation of their meeting.  Everyone continues to pray that someday the parish will be be allowed to reunite.

A Tribute at Last

In 1 on March 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Parishioners, peers, parents, alumni, faculty, friends and family finally had the opportunity to gather together in joyful tribute to the former Principal of St. Saviour Elementary School.  On March 7th, 2010, the St. Saviour community gathered to honor James J. Flanagan, the steward of their parish elementary school from 1984 until 2009.   Mr. Flanagan was surrounded by admirers in his home parish of St. Patrick’s, Bay Ridge, where revellers were toasting to his good health, listening to speeches extolling his many virtues, buying raffles, and enjoying plenty of good food and drink.  Lorraine Gorrin, the first grade teacher of St. Saviour Elementary for 29 years, served as host, introducing such honored guests as  Monsignor Nagle, who was the pastor of St. Saviour from 1997 to 2004 and is the current pastor of St. Patrick’s, Jean Eschenauer who has been the 8th grade teacher of St. Saviour Elementary for 20 years,  Lucia Balzamo, the Kindergarten teacher at SSES for 20 years, Mary Papaleo who has been the kindergarten assistant teacher for 18 years, Gertrude Gilligan who attended St. Saviours Elementary School & High School and who also sent her two children there, Judy Fallon an alumni of the elementary school, high school, and member of Friends of St. Saviour, Cathy Hunt who is the current Home School Board President, and Sister Kathleen Sullivan, the principal of St. Francis Xavier.  Mrs. Eschenauer mentioned how daunting Mr. Flanagan’s early years must have been since he was the first layperson principal and (gasp!) a man!  Sister Kathleen related that “he set the standard for all of us, and when other principals had problems or concerns, they looked to Jim.  He is sorely missed.”  Everyone was teary when the two Kindergarten teachers thanked him for hiring them so long ago and giving them a great lifelong opportunity to work in Catholic Education.  After being presented with a plaque, Principal Flanagan lightened the mood by jokingly announcing his candidacy for NY governor with a campaign run by St. Saviour parents.  Mr. Flanagan told us that his doctors couldn’t be more pleased with his blood work numbers and it was easy for everyone to see that semi-retirement was agreeing with him.  He’s staying busy by running an Honor’s Program at St. Patrick’s and occasionally substituting. It was a loving and memorable night that will be remembered by all attendees.  We will all continue to keep him in our prayers, knowing that he will do the same for us.  What a blessing to our parish to have had such a dedicated shepherd for a quarter of a century.

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