It's only a movie
A Welcome from the Dean
I recently had the opportunity to see Waiting for "Superman," a documentary film about the challenges facing America’s urban schools. The film, which has generated substantial debate, implies that traditional district schools are hopelessly paralyzed by self-serving teachers’ unions. It criticizes Catholic schools as being inaccessible to children from low-income backgrounds. The film is, in effect, a manifesto for charter schools.
I was deeply touched by the depiction of urban parents who will go to any length to provide educational opportunities for their beloved children, and I certainly applaud the remarkable accomplishments of many charter schools. But data indicate that there is wide variation in their effectiveness. I also know from long experience that traditional district schools and Catholic schools can be remarkably effective in serving the needs of urban children. What schools in every sector require are strong visionary leaders who create vital communities where excellent teaching is recognized and rewarded, and where families are respected and engaged.
To that end, I am delighted that we have established the Lynch Leadership Academy, which will welcome its first cohort this January. Funded with a generous gift from Carolyn and Peter Lynch, the academy will bring together early- and mid-career principals from urban Catholic, district public, and charter schools, to learn together, and from one another, about ways to overcome the toughest issues that urban schools face. It is our hope that this network will allow principals to share resources and practices to turn around underperforming urban schools in the greater Boston area.
Our ongoing conversation about urban education and reform will be deepened by visits from two specials guests during the fall semester. Urban education expert Diane Ravitch will visit Boston College to discuss her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, December 1. Charles M. Payne of the University of Chicago will be the keynote speaker at the Lynch School's 11th annual symposium on December 6. The title of Payne’s lecture, “So Much Reform, Maybe a Little Change,” is the theme of this year’s symposium, which will take an in-depth look at how policy has affected the education system over the past several years.
It is my pleasure to share with you news of current events and exciting initiatives in which our community is engaged. This newsletter features profiles of five students pursuing degrees in educational leadership and introduces you to the new talent leading the Roche Center for Catholic Education. As always, you’ll also find faculty news and alumni notes. I also want to call your attention to the upcoming issue of the Boston College Magazine, with an insert of a new print edition of Colloquia for alumni and friends of the Lynch School. There you will find more exciting news about happenings in Campion Hall.
We hope you enjoy eColloquia and that you will be a part of our community’s ongoing conversations and efforts.
With warmest regards,
Joseph M. O'Keefe, S.J.