Growing Proportion of Lay Teachers Concerns Catholics
Anaheim, Calif--Because Catholic schools now employ a higher proportion of lay teachers than they once did, the transmission of religious vision and values to students is becoming more difficult, according to leaders of an organization of Catholic school administrators.
"The Christian formation of teachers" is the greatest concern of Catholic school administrators, said Monsignor Francis X. Barrett, executive director of Chief Administrators of Catholic Education (cace). The organization held its annual meeting here recently.
"The people who make our schools come alive--give them their visions and values--are the teachers," Monsignor Barrett said. "And we are concerned that they have an opportunity to become acquainted with the values of Christian education so they can transmit them to their students."
The Rev. Russell Bleich, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, and past president of cace said the problem is becoming more difficult as the trend to a higher proportion of lay teachers continues.
"If our teachers don't share the vision and values of the parents and the parish, then parents won't choose us," Father Bleich said. "It's as basic as that," he added. "So in a sense, it's even more important than finance and enrollment."
Two cace committees are working on the problem, Father Bleich said. One is developing inservice training programs and the other one is working with teacher-training programs in colleges and universities.
"We believe our parents choose our schools because they themselves have a Christian vision and values, and they want their children's teachers to share that same vision and those same values with the children," Father Bleich said.
"When most of our teachers had religious training in the seminaries, the Christian formation of our teachers was almost automatic," Father Bleich continued. He said that is no longer true "when most of our personnel are lay persons."