1.) How does a Catholic elementary school serve students with Down syndrome? and 2). What are the challenges in serving students with Down syndrome in a Catholic elementary school? The significance of this case study lies in witnessing and documenting one elementary Catholic school’s experience of creating, developing, establishing, and modelling an inclusion environment that serves the needs of its students with Down syndrome. This study will ultimately provide data to those in similar Catholic school settings in developing and implementing fully inclusive environments. This study hopes to further the discussion in the field of Catholic education about the right(s) of all Catholic children, especially students with Down syndrome.
The Local-Executive Governance Model in Catholic Parochial Elementary Schools: Understanding Pastors’ Perspectives
Catholic parochial elementary schools in the United States are normally governed by the pastor of the local parish and under a local-executive governance model. Despite pastors’ paramount role in the governance of Catholic parochial elementary schools they often lack the training, interest, or time to fulfill their roles. This qualitative study explored pastors’ perspectives on the local-executive governance model, where governance of the school is local and the pastor is the sole executive of the school. This dissertation included interviews with nine pastors in a diocese on the west coast of the United States. The study explored how pastors’ view their roles at their parochial schools. The pastors were asked about their views on their spiritual, education, and managerial roles at their parochial schools. Findings indicated that pastors enjoyed their spiritual roles at their schools but chose to delegate many of their financial, human, and academic responsibilities to the school principal. The findings supported the need for Catholic schools to explore other options in school governance beyond the local-executive governance model and to shift more authority from pastors to qualified laypersons.
Understanding Catholic School Attrition: Catholic Elementary School Students' and Parents' Perceptions and Matriculation Decisions
This mixed methods study shed light on the issue of attrition within Catholic education and points to opportunities for leaders to improve the effectiveness of elementary and secondary schools as well as identify barriers impacting access to poor and vulnerable populations. The purpose was to: describe factors eighth-grade Catholic school students and their parents consider in choosing a high school; determine correlations between degree of satisfaction with Catholic elementary schools and perceptions of programs in Catholic high schools; and understand the extent students’ and parents’ identified attributes corresponded to their high school selection. Quantitative data was generated from surveys of a proportionally stratified sample of 610 eighth-grade students and parents from 25 Catholic elementary schools in Los Angeles County. Qualitative data was yielded from follow up interviews of nine parents whose graduating children were not matriculating to a Catholic high school. Statistically significant differences in the importance of factors were found between parent and student, among participant ethnicity, and among family income level. While expense was the primary reason for not attending a Catholic high school, it was most often in combination with at least one of several other reasons. Strong correlation between satisfaction of elementary school and perceptions of high school was prevalent among participants, particularly parents and those matriculating to private and public high schools. With attrition found to be highest among students of color, lower middle-income families, and girls, recommendations for school improvement practices and collaboration with diocesan, higher education, and foundation leaders are presented.
As the student population in United States public schools continues to become more diverse with an increase of students of color and from low socioeconomic backgrounds, it is critical that the opportunity gaps in our education system are addressed to provide an equitable education for urban youth. To mitigate these gaps, there is a need for experienced urban teachers, but urban schools have higher teacher turnover rates and more novice teachers. There is also a need for more teachers of color, who demonstrate positive impacts on students of color. However, the retention rate amongst teachers of color is lower than that of white teachers. This phenomenological qualitative research study explored the personal and professional factors that sustain Latina veteran urban teachers in a predominantly Latino school district. Data was collected through a survey, instructional documents, and semi structured interviews to produce individual testimonios of each participant’s history as a Latina veteran urban teacher and a cross-case analysis of the six participants’ shared experiences. The findings demonstrated that Latina veteran urban teachers were sustained by a strong personal commitment to serving urban students, a dedication to continuous professional growth, and the support from their personal and professional networks. These findings can inform teacher preparation programs and school systems on how to prepare and sustain Latina teachers for long-term careers in urban education.
Social Justice Leadership in Catholic Secondary Schools: A Critical Examination of Social Justice Orientation and Praxis
This study sought to understand the impact of a leader’s social justice orientation on their praxis of social justice. The study also sought to discover the successes and challenges associated with enacting social justice. Nine Catholic secondary school leaders in the California Archdiocese participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used to understand how social justice orientation affects social justice praxis. The data analysis indicates that the social justice outcomes of a school site are greatly impacted by the school leader’s justice-orientation. Findings revealed that justice-orientation is dependent on two factors: the self-efficacy of the leader and the social justice impact of the leader’s actions. These two factors determine a leader’s position on the justice orientation continuum. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Transcendent Formation for Agents of Grace: Non-Catholic Teachers for Mission in Catholic Secondary Schools
As non-Catholic teachers are being hired into Catholic high schools, they are inducted into the school mission that participates in the Catholic Church’s mission for evangelization. The research on the non-Catholic teachers’ perspectives and experiences of this mission formation is underdeveloped. This study explores the process of Catholic school mission formation conducted by school leaders for non-Catholic teachers in the region of Southern California. Specifically, it examined the perception of non-Catholic teachers’ experience about their mission formation at the Catholic high schools. Simultaneously, it investigated the perception of school leaders in their practice of mission formation for non-Catholic teachers. Drawing upon the phenomenological school of thought, this study uses the method of narrative inquiry. Through semi-structured interviews of non-Catholic teachers and school leaders, this study collected data through their stories of mission formation in the Catholic high school system. The participants for this study were selected through purposeful and convenience sampling. Results and conclusions demonstrate the widely differing contexts and worldviews that non-Catholic teachers are experiencing as they become teachers in the Catholic schools. Corresponding to Shields’ (2008) study, the study concludes that any induction program will have to admit the limits it can offer but consider the critical starting point: the story that brought them to the school. The findings also demonstrate an opportunity for school leaders on how to message their faith formation program. According to the findings, the study demonstrates a relationship of the participants’ conceptual framework of evangelization and their self-understanding of participating in mission, as well as to how effective the school leadership supports them in school mission.
African American Superintendent Perceptions and Experiences with the Recruitment, Selection and Promotion Process
The underrepresentation of African Americans in the superintendency in K-12 school districts across the United States is a problem of significant concern especially due to the high need as for strong leaders of colors. This qualitative study explored and examined the perceptions of 17 African American superintendents with the recruitment, selection, and promotion process. The career and employment experiences of African American superintendents is the means by which this study extrapolates data in order to answer the research question. This study utilized a semi-structured interview process in order to gather data to answer the research question. Thematic analysis was used to identify the perceptions of African American superintendents with regards to the recruitment, selection, and promotion process. The research question included: 1) What are the career and employment perspectives and experiences of African American public school superintendents in the United States? This research study utilizes the theoretical framework of critical race theory and the conceptual framework of Asante's 5 principles of the Afrocentric method for generating knowledge as a lens for analyzing the data and making sense of what the data says about the career and employment experiences of African American superintendents as well as the recruitment, selection, and promotion process to the superintendency. The findings revealed significant themes related to race, racism, discrimination, political acumen, contract negotiations, social justice leadership, mentoring, networking, search firms, and spirituality. The findings support the need for legislative action that educates school boards and search firms about how to increase the pool of viable African American superintendent candidates in the recruitment, selection, and promotion process along with the building of mentoring and networking organizations that supports both aspiring and current African American superintendents.
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