Dr. Austin Conley » Home


Director's Blog

Recent Posts

Local finance and governance make schools work

The fifth in a series of six important advantages of Catholic School.
Who runs the school? How much parent involvement and input is there? Stakeholders is the term used in governance. Today the stakeholders in Catholic schools are the families who send their children and the parish that supports them. Local boards, commissions, parish and diocesan structures all depend on the engagement of laity for support and future paths.
Development and institutional advancement offices, like our Catholic Education Foundation, can be found in most areas to assist schools. They help with student aid for families who are truly in need of financial help beyond the more typical sacrifices.
Keeping tuition affordable, providing just salaries, properly equipping schools in technology and in sound educational programs remain ongoing challenges to the Church, the schools of the Diocese of San Bernardino, and its people.

Children Learn Best in a Well-Disciplined Setting

The fourth in a series of six important advantages of Catholic School.
Children are taught to be responsible for their own actions. In a spirit of justice and charity, youngsters are encouraged to respect themselves and their neighbor. In simple terms, the children are taught to be kind. Today's codes of discipline are codes of expectations. Of course there are violations of rules and regulations, and of course there are detentions, suspensions and expulsions. Catholic schools, however, do not expel chronically unruly children without a thorough and fair process.

While there is no way to guarantee that unfortunate incidents will never occur, Catholic school administrators across the country have taken measures to assist teachers, students and families to deal with difficult behavior such as bullying and violence. To prevent the unthinkable, security measures have
been installed, ranging from surveillance cameras to lock-down codes, drills to evacuation plans and disaster rehearsals.

Children are the concern of everyone who is involved with the Catholic school. Our schools are not just buildings, but also places where the children know they are loved, protected and safe. They are free to learn and love each other in an atmosphere of care and concern even in a chaotic neighborhood.

In a Catholic school, students are encouraged to know and care for one another.

The Compelling Advantages of Catholic School

Parents often ask the question, "Can I afford to send my child to a Catholic school?" My response is another question: "How can you not afford it?" All parents want what is best for their children and will often sacrifice in order to provide it.

I know of many parents who will take on a second and sometimes even a third job to keep their youngsters in a Catholic school. One of my former associates did just this. When asked why, she simply said, "It's the right thing. Where else can I be assured that the Christian ethic that I value and cherish will be reinforced? Where else can I be assured that my child will be challenged and academically prepared for a future that no one knows about yet? When he gets on that bus, I know he will be in good hands, safe and secure as can be, and I will be informed when something is amiss."

In my own career as a Catholic educator, I have learned that Catholic schooling has many other compelling advantages.Continued in future postings, I will be outlining these advantages. Please check back.

Catholic Schools Develop the Whole Person

The third in a series of six important advantages of Catholic School.
Solid academics have always been a hallmark in Catholic schools. Excellence is the norm. Teachers are expected to teach; students are expected to learn. These expectations are met by doing more than government standards require, more than just passing tests. The Catholic school strives to equip its graduates with the best tools possible to fulfill the role of good citizen, productive and caring employee, competent professional.
In 1997 the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education wrote, "The Catholic school should be able to offer young people the means to acquire knowledge they need in order to find a place in society which is strongly characterized by technical and scientific skill. But at the same time, it should be able, above all, to impart a solid Christian formation."
How do we balance our need for solid academic and technical training with developing the whole person? One teacher in a Catholic school described the key to successful schooling as similar to the business slogan: "Location, location, location." For Catholic education, though, the slogan must be, "Integration, integration, integration." It all comes down to the mix. The child is a whole being; a child's mind cannot be separated from his or her soul. To integrate the spiritual with the secular makes the student in a Catholic school a saintly scholar.

Catholic schools develop positive Catholic identity

The first in a series of six important advantages of Catholic School
In Catholic schools there is a culture and an identity that is distinctly religious, that is unlike any other. The atmosphere in a Catholic school provides a sound spirituality for the students. It provides experiences and opportunities for youngsters to know that God is a very real presence in life. To experience a living spirituality is the experience of a Catholic school.
The Catholic identity of the school is not taken for granted, it is worked at, it is nourished, it is engaged by the students, the faculty, the community. Prayer and spirituality are not just trimmings, but are the essence and moral fiber of the school.

Catholic families want to pass on their tradition.

The second in a series of six important advantages of Catholic School.
Tradition means the handing on to the next generation. All families pass traditions from one generation to the next. These might be ethnic celebrations of life events or simply the way we celebrate holidays. Catholic schools ensure that the Catholic tradition is passed on to children, who are the future Church.
There is a compelling need for leadership in the Catholic Church both now and tomorrow. It is in the Catholic school that this leadership is formed and nurtured. Lay leadership as well as clergy and religious vocations are fostered. Catholic schools are places of evangelization.
They are places where children and teens are encouraged to live the gospel fearlessly today with the expectation that this will be the fabric of their future lives. The aim of the Catholic school is to make the gospel message part and parcel of the child's learning.

Catholic Schools Really Do Matter

Parent surveys reveal that the top reason for choosing to enroll children in Catholic schools is for "quality religious education"followed by a "safe environment" and then "quality academic instruction." Individuals who attended a Catholic school attend Mass more frequently than those who did not.
Half of all new priests, 41% of new sisters and 45% of younger lay ecclesial ministers attended Catholic primary schools. Without Catholic schools, the next generation of Church leaders would be more difficult to recruit and form in numbers that will be needed for a growing Catholic population.
"Do Catholic Schools Matter?"
Mark  M. Gray, June 13, 2014
Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA)

We all need Catholic Schools

Who benefits from Catholic School?

The truth is that the entire parish, the whole diocese and the universal church benefit from Catholic schools in ways that keep communities strong. So all Catholics have a duty to support them. Reawakening a sense of common ownership of Catholic schools may be the biggest challenge the church faces in any revitalization effort ahead. Thus, we Catholics need to ask ourselves a risky question: Who needs Catholic schools, anyway?

The answer: We all do. Much of the research on Catholic education conducted over the last five decades—from the Rev. Andrew Greeley to the University of Notre Dame; from the National Opinion Research Center to the work of independent, often non-Catholic scholars—has answered with a unanimous voice that without a doubt Catholic schools are an unquestioned success in every way: spiritually, academically and communally. More to the point, the graduates they produce emerge as lifelong practitioners of their faith. These Catholic graduates have been, are and will be our leaders in church and society.

DONATE NOW to show your support

San Bernardino Diocese Schools Earn AP Honor Roll

Catholic schools in the diocese of San Bernardino have been awarded the prestigious 2014-2015 AP Honor Roll for broadening the pool of students earning scores of 3 or higher in advanced placement programs. We are the only private school system in California to earn this honor and one of 547 districts in the U.S. and Canada.

AP courses, administered by the College Board, can help students in three significant ways. 1. By helping students stand out in college admissions, 2. By earning college credits, and 3. Allowing students to skip introductory classes. 82% of students say AP courses are more worthwhile than regular courses and over 3,000 colleges and universities worldwide received AP scores in 2012 for credit and placement.

This award demonstrates that our students are very well prepared for college and beyond.

Foundations and Donors are Critical to our Success

Studies have consistently shown that Catholic schools are educating minority students better than their public-school counterparts, despite the fact that per-pupil expenditures in Catholic schools are only one-third those of tax-funded public schools. Foundations and donors are critical in providing resources that will ensure there is capacity building, development of evidence-based best practices, continuous quality improvement, shared measurement and collective impact. Schools, investors and the larger community working together around a shared vision of excellence will lead to students who will indeed be "fit for the world in which they are destined to live," and ready and willing to bring about the Reign of God. Why engage in this process? The love of Christ urges us.

The Catholic School Advantage

Parents who send their children to Catholic school often cite safety and values as motivation for their choice. These two vital considerations are a huge part of the benefits students of Catholic schools receive, but they represent only a portion of what researchers call the Catholic School Advantage:

  • 98% of low income, minority children graduate from high schools, compared to only 66% of all students in public schools.
  • Hispanic and African American Students who attend Catholic schools are 42% more likely to graduate from high school and 2.5 times more likely to graduate college.
  • 81% of students who graduate from Catholic schools attend college, compared to 44% of students in public schools.
  • Students who attend Catholic schools are more likely to attend church and remain active Catholics as adults.
  • Catholic school students are also more tolerant of diverse views, more likely to vote, more likely to be civically engaged, and earn higher wages than their public school peers.

Retrieved from http://ace.nd.edu/academies/the-catholic-school-advantage

The Catholic School Difference

One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a parent is where to send your child for elementary and high school. Catholic schools provide a complete education that includes curriculum and programs that develop a well-rounded graduate. Studies show that the road to college success begins during a student’s elementary years. True college preparation begins in the early grades, not high school. In today’s economically competitive climate, college success means not just attending college, but obtaining a degree.