As we look ahead to 2023, we asked leaders from ACE and the Institute for Educational Initiatives what they feel are the most pressing issues facing Catholic schools and education. Here is what's on their minds as they think about the New Year.
Director, Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program
The teacher shortage will continue to have a significant impact on Catholic schools. The shortage has two key impacts – one is the potential closure of Catholic schools, not because there aren't enough students, but because there aren't enough teachers. Second is the fact that the shortage also indicates an implicit diminishment in the quality of instruction, which has deeper impacts for the education of students.
I am also fascinated to see the impact of ChatGPT. I have already seen educational impacts with students creating five paragraph essays and high education folks speculating about the end of the college essay. But there are also some potential benefits. I think by this time next year, it will be a significant issue being discussed in education.
Director, Program for Inclusive Education
Students and educators are facing lower levels of social, emotional, and mental health, which has impacted every facet of the educational system. With these challenges, behaviors change and impact the classroom culture and academic success. Students and teachers show increased levels of educational fatigue, such as fewer graduates initially enrolling in higher education and decreased levels of teacher retention. I worry that academic expectations have decreased to counter these effects.
Founding Director, Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child
We have just 10 years to make good on the United Nations’ promise in the Sustainable Development Goals that every child will be in school and learning. Yet new data from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics shows that, at the present rate, one in every six children will still be out of primary and secondary school in 2030, and that only six out of 10 young people will complete secondary education. We need real commitment from every single government, backed by resources, to get the job done.
Director, Catholic School Advantage and English as a New Language programs
Catholic schools stand as sacred spaces of hope for families and communities, and they, alongside our parishes, are begging to be transformed and reanimated. Immigrant and culturally and linguistically diverse communities continue to provide an animating spirit that can help Catholic schools reimagine their critical work in building the nation and Church of the future. We are called to educate multicultural and multilingual children in ways that shape them to be our next generation of educators, theologians, business owners, and parents who pass on the faith to their children and bring life, relationships, and joy to our parishes and communities. This is the needed investment for the future of Catholic education.
Senior Director, Teacher Formation and Education Policy
A great school remains hopelessly out of reach for far too many children. Although we have dramatically expanded the landscape of publicly funded family choice in education in recent years, most low-income families still lack the kind of access to a truly great school that socioeconomically privileged families enjoy. In our drive to improve the quality of K-12 schooling, we must ensure that our best schools are accessible to those who need them most.
Executive Director, Alliance for Catholic Education
The greatest crisis facing Catholic education, and education in general, is the recruitment and retention of talented and committed teachers and leaders for our schools. The exodus from schools and classrooms and the decline in enrollment in teacher education programs predated the emergence of COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated this worrisome trend. The generally sub-market compensation levels offered by Catholic schools make financial incentives an obvious challenge that requires innovative solutions to attract and retain excellent teachers and school leaders.