A new scholarly journal devoted exclusively to Roman Catholic schools is seeking to spark a higher level of discussion about Catholic education.
As they receive the inaugural issue this month, many Catholic educators say Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice is beginning to fill a long-standing void.
“There’s been a laconism for 20-some years in the scholarly arena,” said Sister Lourdes Sheehan, who directs the department of chief administrators of Catholic education at the Washington-based National Catholic Educational Association.
The field already is served by several publications geared more toward a general audience, such as the NCEA’s Momentum. But Catholic Education now is the only such scholarly publication of peer-reviewed articles. The Catholic University of America in Washington and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., at one time had similar journals, but both have long since ceased publication.
The quarterly Catholic Education is a joint venture of Fordham University in New York City, St. Louis University in Missouri, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Dayton in Ohio, which houses its editorial offices. Seed money came from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment.
Running about 120 pages, the publication covers both K-12 and higher education. It includes reviews of books and recent research along with articles examining educational practice, policy, and social concerns affecting parochial schools. About 700 copies of the journal have been published in the first press run, and its editors hope soon to attract 1,000 subscribers.
The first issue includes a discussion of the religious identity of Catholic institutions of higher education and an article in which Bruno V. Manno of the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, examines the relationship of Catholic high schools to the national debate on school reform. It also includes a response to Mr. Manno’s article by Karen Ristau, who has directed educational leadership programs at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
Elaine M. Schuster, the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, also writes about the significant role that new scholarship could play in the field of Catholic education. Research should concentrate on the unique experience of Catholic schools carrying out education reform, parochial school organization, and what makes a school Catholic, she writes. (“Keeping the Faith” and “Without Abandonment,” Feb. 26, 1997.)
Sister Sheehan agrees.
“For those of us in Catholic education, the one big question is the uniqueness of Catholic schools,” she said. “What makes them unique, and how does that allow us to make a contribution?”
Subscriptions are available for $35 for individuals and $80 for institutions from Catholic Education, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH