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Catholic High Schools: Facing the New Realities
Oxford University Press / 2011 / Hardcover
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Catholic high schools in the United States have been undergoing three major changes: the shift to primarily lay leadership and teachers; the transition to a more consumerist and pluralist culture; and the increasing diversity of students attending Catholic high schools. James Heft argues that to navigate these changes successfully, leaders of Catholic education need to inform lay teachers more thoroughly, conduct a more profound social analysis of the culture, and address the real needs of students.
After presenting the history of Catholic schools in the United States and describing the major legal decisions that have influenced their evolution, Heft describes the distinctive and compelling mission of a Catholic high school. Two chapters are devoted to leadership, and other chapters to teachers, students, alternative models of high schools, financing, and the key role of parents, who today may be described as ''post-deferential'' to traditional authorities, including bishops and priests.
Written by an award-winning teacher, scholar, and recognized educational leader in Catholic education, Catholic High Schools should be read by everyone interested in religiously- affiliated educational institutions, particularly Catholic education.
Fr. James L. Heft, S.M. (Marianist), Alton Brooks Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California, is the author or editor of 12 books and over 150 scholarly articles, and currently serves at the President of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC (ifacs.com). His recent research has focused on the mission of Catholic education and interreligious dialogue.
"All those wrestling with how to revitalize Christian education can learn from Heft's impassioned but at the same time realistic and deeply informed advocacy on behalf of Catholic high schools."--Mark U. Edwards, Jr., President Emeritus, St. Olaf College
"In Catholic High Schools, James Heft challenges educators to think about the moral purpose and value of education. He extends beyond now conventional arguments that Catholic schools have better outcomes than public schools because of rituals or constrained preparatory curriculum, to consider the meaning and implications of values in the educational process. Heft's examination of the moral aspects of educational leadership should be of interest to reformers in the public and private sectors of education."---Edward P. St. John, Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor of Education, University of Michigan
"James Heft invites all Americans to recognize the enormous value that Catholic schools offer to our nation, especially as cultural values continue to shift. In a work that is simultaneously attentive to current circumstances and full of vision, readers are offered a set of themes that should be considered by everyone concerned with education in the United States."--Timothy R. Scully, CSC, Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, University of Notre Dame
"This was a book that I read with great interest...This title has wide audience appeal. It should be required reading for Catholic school administrators, teachers, parents, board members, bishops, religious, and priests involved in Catholic education."--Catholic Library World
"I respectfully give Catholic High Schools my highest recommendation. It is not just what Heft writes but also how he presents his arguments that makes his text suitable for a diverse readership ecumenically and academically. He masterfully presents many of the primary arguments of his book in a style similar to that of St. Thomas Aquinas...Heft intimately
knows the subjects he addresses in Catholic High Schools and has written a clear and convincing guidebook for understanding and supporting the cultural, educational, and financial needs facing Catholic schools today."--Journal of Education and Christian Belief
"Each of the book's eleven chapters is widely informed, and Heft has a gift for articulately summarizing and sharing the literature he reviews...Prior to reading this book, I had been aware of Heft's excellent writing on Catholic higher education, but I was impressed anew by this book which deserves a readership wider than its title implies...This book is highly recommended for all libraries."--American Catholic Studies
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