Detail

USD Conducts Study on Strengthening Catholic School Education

The Bishop Flores Memorial Fund for Catholic Education
"Strengthening Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Diego" Collaborative With the University of San Diego

"The role our Catholic schools play in educating and forming the faith of our children continues to be invaluable today. Not only will these children become the Church of tomorrow, but they will also fill the most important roles in leadership and ministry as the Church reaches out to the world." - Bishop Cirilo Flores, August 2014

San Diego, CA. - The Diocese of San Diego has established the Bishop Flores Memorial Fund for Catholic Education at www.diocese-sdiego.org/bishopfloresfund. The purpose of this fund is to provide financial assistance for children in need to attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Diego. The diocese is currently the largest private education system in the region, serving both San Diego and Imperial counties, including 43 elementary schools and 5 high schools.

During his first year as Bishop, Flores promised he would not close a single Catholic school in the diocese, reversing an alarming recent trend. He commissioned a strategic vision committee to provide recommendations to strengthen the Catholic school system and partnered with the University of San Diego to conduct a study analyzing the sustainability of Catholic elementary schools in the diocese. Faced with declining enrollment and the closure of Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of San Diego, Flores commissioned the Strategic Vision Committee for Catholic Elementary Schools in the summer of 2013. This committee included local pastors, school principals, Diocesan office personnel, national Catholic education experts, University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences experts, as well as the Diocese’s Director of Schools and Vicar General. The Committee was tasked with developing a better understanding of the growing issues and challenges faced by local Catholic schools, including the steady decline of school enrollment and the closure of three local Catholic K-8 schools in recent years. The Diocese commissioned the Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL), a research center within the University’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), to study the current state of Catholic education in the Diocese, including the issues and challenges schools face, as well as the foundational pieces that the Diocese can build from for future sustainability and effectiveness.

At the request of Bishop Flores and the Committee, the study centered on providing a voice to Diocesan stakeholders, including pastors, principals, teachers, and parents, regarding their experiences with and perspectives of Catholic education in the Diocese of San Diego. The nine-month study focused on reviewing the literature on national trends in Catholic schools, collecting demographic and statistical data from the Office of Schools, distributing online surveys to stakeholders, and interviewing survey participants. More than 2,000 diocesan stakeholders participated in the study, including 1,552 parents and grandparents, 57 percent of diocesan pastors, 88 percent of diocesan school principals, and 30 percent of diocesan teachers. Interviews were conducted with 250 stakeholders including Diocesan Office personnel, pastors, principals, teachers, parents, grandparents, and other patrons of the Diocese.

Paula Cordeiro, Dean of the School of Leadership & Education Sciences (SOLES) at the University of San Diego commended the report. “Catholic education and its role in shaping our youth is a lasting and important hallmark in the Diocese of San Diego,” said Cordeiro. “We hope that the study’s findings and suggestions for implementation will only build upon and strengthen Catholic education in San Diego.”

The overarching theme to emerge from the study was the lack of a cohesive collective of Catholic schools working in collaboration to educate children in the Diocese. The Diocese of San Diego school system is a competitive environment where schools are contending with each other for a perceived limited pool of resources. The resources most highly sought after are the number of students that can enroll in a school and the funding to operate effective Catholic schools. Competition is reinforced through the Diocese’s parochial system of governance where each school operates as a separate entity. The findings from this study suggest the competitive environment needs to be replaced with a collaborative system of schools working toward the same mission of educating all Catholic youth, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, or academic level. The findings and recommendations of the University of San Diego study “Strengthening Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Diego” can be found at www.diocese-sdiego.org/usdresearch.

“Several key recommendations from the University of San Diego research were the development of a funding foundation to financially support schools and families in need, effectively address schools in low resource areas on the precipice of closure and provide effective professional development to teachers and administrators. We are now implementing these recommendations as well as many more,” says Damian J. Esparza, director for development. “The vision of Bishop Flores was to make Catholic schools affordable and accessible to all Catholic families, and we look forward to making this vision a reality in partnership with the University of San Diego,” says John Galvan, director for schools, and University of San Diego alumnus.

Bishop Flores’s Background: Raised in Riverside County, Bishop Flores was one of six children. When his parents could not afford to send him to Catholic high school, the local Knights of Columbus paid his tuition. Before his ordination, he spent years as a school teacher. His experiences made him a strong advocate for Catholic schools and the importance that Catholic education “must be accessible to children of all families no matter their race, culture, or economic condition.”

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning committed to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and the creation of ethical leaders. Chartered in 1949, the school enrolls approximately 8,300 undergraduate and graduate full-time equivalent students. The University of San Diego has a long history of public service and is recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The university’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Business Administration, The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, The School of Law, The School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education.

Catholic schools have made a lasting impact on our region, with the values-based education transforming tens of thousands of children to be responsible, globally aware citizens of our great nation.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. In February 2016, USD launched the public phase of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represents the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university and builds upon the strong philanthropic momentum achieved by USD in recent years. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.

Contact:

Jeryldine Tully
jtully@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4786