Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in our school choice wish series. See the rest of the line-up here.
by Father Timothy R. Scully
Think, for a moment, about the last time you walked down the hallway of a great school.
Consider how energizing it is to be in that environment. A place where classrooms are full of the intense buzz of learning, teachers are engaging and passionate, and parents are confident in the values-based education their child is receiving.
Is there any experience quite as encouraging – and in many ways unfortunately counter to the dominant rhetoric on what is needed in K-12 education – as seeing a high-performing, faith-based school putting at-risk children on the path to college and heaven?
My school choice wish this year is that more families may have just that experience — to walk into a school that leads their children to full human flourishing, that they are proud to be a part of, and that they freely chose. Every family in America should enjoy the choice of attending an excellent school, to learn in a rich context of faith if they so choose. We must rededicate ourselves to making this a reality.
In examining many of these national treasures across the country, one thing has become abundantly clear: schools and school systems that adopt a fully integrated culture of continuous improvement – a commitment to excellence – will change the lives of their students forever. We would be well served to develop programs and services that can help all schools, including faith-based schools, commit themselves to achieving such a culture; a commitment to build institutional excellence in areas such as academic performance, financial vitality, and faith and character formation. And while such work is undeniably complex, it is important to recognize one simple truth: achieving such a reality is at least as much a reflection of who we are as educators as what we do. Our success will ultimately rest on the authenticity and vigor with which we live our lives, with which we develop fresh and imaginative ways to unlock the full potential of the young people we serve.
But in addition to helping make these schools excellent, we must make it possible for all families to choose the best school for their children.