Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the United States are known for their academic excellence, safety, discipline, good communication, and a Christ-centered focus that permeates the school culture. However, there many unseen challenges to maintain these hard-won benchmarks that school leaders face daily. Ever escalating costs and limited funding streams, rising expectations of families, divisive culture battles, conflicting and sometimes mutually exclusive views of Church teachings and beliefs chipping away at the core mission, a growing and hostile secularism all contribute to some of the challenges confronting this largest private school system. TheSurvivability of Catholic Schools: Vigor, Anemia, and a Diffident Flock guides readers through some of the undetected trials and joys of keeping Catholic schools faithful to their mission by candidly acknowledging some of the headaches while encouraging parents, alumni, and stakeholders to reinvigorate this pearl of great price.
Michael Caruso holds a doctorate in Catholic School Leadership and was an Associate Professor of Education at both Loyola Marymount University and Saint Louis University where he taught aspiring Catholic school administrators of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Orange in California, as well as the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. He led Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago as President and CEO for ten years and served on the Archdiocesan School Board of Chicago, and is currently the Vice President for Mission, Planning, and Operations at Saint Louis University High School.
Chapter 1: How we got to this point with Catholic Schools: Background
Chapter 2: “I Thought that this was Supposed to be a Catholic School?” [Parents and Mission]
Chapter 3: “We Hire for Mission and We Fire for Mission”: Easier Said than Done!
Chapter 4: Religious Communities: Absentee Landlords
Chapter 5: Athletics: The Gift that Keeps Scoring!
Chapter 6: Technology: It’s Joys and Woes!
Chapter 7 Liturgy and Service Can Moderate Technology
About the Author
Father Michael Caruso, SJ, has used his lifetime of experience in all levels of Catholic education to identify key challenges impacting today’s Catholic schools. He offers valuable insights from the teachers’ and administrators’ points of view, while also acknowledging the struggles of everyday Catholics to obtain a Catholic education for their children. Father Caruso’s analysis can serve as an enlightening guide for Catholic parents, teachers, principals, pastors, and bishops who want to enable Catholic schools not only to survive, but to thrive and produce graduates who know and live their faith and have a positive impact on the church and society.
When it comes to supporting Catholic schools too many families who use them are like birds at the feeder, grateful for the birdseed but, when finished dining, fly away not to be seen again. It’s true too for state and municipal government: Catholic schools are a tremendous educational asset for them, especially when it comes to serving their low-income families, but they do little or nothing to support them. Fr Michael Caruso chronicles how we got to this place and why parental engagement with Catholic schools and laws that allow parents to direct tax dollars to them will be critical to the surviving and thriving of our Catholic school systems. Fr Caruso’s unique perspective—as historian and administrator of Catholic schools—is well worth heeding.
Father Caruso gives a raw and realistic portrait of Catholic Education today. Even when naming the challenges, he communicates a vision of Catholic Education that is filled with confidence and hope. His thought-provoking book is written from the heart of an educator who cares deeply about passing on the faith to the next generation.
I am so glad that Fr. Caruso wrote this book! The story of Catholic Schools in America is the story of the evangelization and education of generations of dedicated Catholics who lead in every area of American Society. Fr. Caruso’s extensive experience in Catholic education, in administration, recruitment, development, and the classroom make him the quintessential authority to tell this story and illustrate current issues. When I entered a Catholic High School in 1974, my father got a second job to pay the tuition. Fr. Caruso affirms the sacrifices and helps us to look with hope to the future of Catholic education in America! Thank you, Fr. Caruso, for writing this book!
1/24/23, The Catholic Channel (Sirius XM): Michael Caruso joined Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan to talk about his book.