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Catholic School Standards and Character Education

Friday, Mar. 15, 2013
What makes a school Catholic?  Part of the goal behind the creation of National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools was to clarify that issue, according to Lorraine Ozar, who chaired the Catholic School National Standards Task Force.
 
Ozar, director of the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University, Chicago, spoke today at a meeting of Catholic school educators from the San Jose and Oakland dioceses, sponsored by the SCU Department of Education with help from the Ethics Center.  The Center has developed a character education curriculum keyed to the new Catholic school standards.
 
Ozar described the standards as a GPS to help build and sustain excellent Catholic schools.  The standards lay out where to go and various ways to get there, but they still require the intelligence of educators and their knowledge of context in order to arrive at the desired destination.
 
Included in the standards are defining characteristics of Catholic schools.  They are:
            Centered  in the Person of Jesus Christ
            Contributing to the Evangelizing Mission of the Church
            Distinguished by Excellence
            Committed to Education the Whole Child
            Steeped in a Catholic Worldview
            Sustained by Gospel Witness
            Shaped by Communion and Community
            Accessible to All Students
            Established by the Expressed Authority of the Bishop
 
The standards themselves lay out what makes an excellent Catholic school.  These standards are matched with Benchmarks, which describe what a school that meets the standards might look like.
 
One standard related particularly to ethics states, “An excellent Catholic school provides opportunities for…action in service of social justice.”  One of the benchmarks of that standard is “Every student participates in Christian service programs to promote the lived reality of action in service of social justice.”