from isolation to incubation how are catholic schools innovating to meet students special needs
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From isolation to incubation: How are Catholic Schools innovating to meet students ’ special needs?. Martin Scanlan [email protected] Setting the stage. I. Context of isolated innovations: Inactive / reactive responses II. Framework for incubating innovations

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from isolation to incubation how are catholic schools innovating to meet students special needs

From isolation to incubation: How are Catholic Schoolsinnovating to meet students’ special needs?

Martin Scanlan

[email protected]

setting the stage
Setting the stage

I. Context of isolated innovations:

Inactive/ reactive responses

II. Framework for incubating innovations

Approaching Inclusive Service Delivery

in proactive and systemic manners

how do we meet students special needs
How do we meet students’ special needs?

A) Inactive: We generally underserve the very students we want most to educate

B) Reactive: When we do serve these students, we do so in pockets of innovation

linguistic diversity rising
Linguistic diversity rising
  • 1979  1999 the number of children who spoke a language other than English at home doubled
  • Nearly three in four (72%) from homes in which Spanish is spoken
  • Implications for schooling: barriers to educational success for these students


inactive response
Inactive Response

“The number of Hispanics enrolled in Catholic schools has remained stagnant for the past 15 years despite the robust increase in the Hispanic population”

(Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino

Children and Families in Catholic Schools, 2009)

Mexicans, “far and away the largest U.S. immigrant group, also have the lowest rate of Catholic school utilization”

(Lawrence, 2000, p. 197)



13% Latino

30% Latino

8% Latino








pocket of innovation
Pocket of Innovation:
  • Escuela de Guadalupe


students with special needs
Students with Special Needs
  • Special needs as a wide umbrella
  • Students with diagnosed disabilities
    • 7% Catholic school population
    • 13.5% public school population

(USCCB, 2002)

  • Most common:
    • Learning disabilities, behavior disorders, vision, speech and language
    • Elementary > Secondary

(Durow, 2007)

attitudes are the real disability
“Attitudes are the real disability”
  • “[Catholic] schools are able to accommodate students with special needs and/or disabilities”

(Gray & Gautier, 2006, p. 136)

isolated pockets of innovation
Isolated Pockets of Innovation:
  • St. Robert’s
    • Some drawn in from public schools
    • Some drawn over from other Catholic schools
    • Paradox of an innovation imploding?



Catholic parents with the highest household incomes are most likely to have enrolled a child in a Catholic elementary school… Catholic parents with lower household incomes are less likely to enroll, and among those of each income group who do enroll, an affordable tuition is more likely to be considered "very important.

(Gray and Gautier, 2006, p. 57)


isolated pockets of innovation1
Isolated Pockets of Innovation:
  • Networks of schools (i.e. NativityMiguel)
  • Alternate funding schemes
    • Stewardship Model
    • Voucher Programs

* Note: More than the other dimensions, we’re addressing the barriers of poverty systematically


ii framework for incubating innovations
II. Framework for Incubating Innovations:
  • Apply our core principles
  • Create structures promoting high quality teaching and learning for all
  • Involve policy & resource mechanisms
1 apply our core principles
1) Apply our Core principles
  • Catholic social teaching:
    • The dignity of the individual
    • The value of serving the common good
    • Preferential option for the marginalized

(Scanlan, 2008, 2009a; Storz & Nestor, 2007)

2 promote high quality teaching and learning
2) Promote high quality teaching and learning
  • Building capacity of teachers:
    • Special Needs: Learning consultant model
    • Bilingual: From compensatory to quality schooling (Brisk, 2006)
  • Integrating Pedagogical Supports
    • Strengthen relationships in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal directions
3 involve policy and resource mechanisms
3) Involve Policy and Resource Mechanisms
  • Strong governance structures

(e.g., boards with limited jurisdiction)

  • Expanded pool of resources
  • Strategic planning for enrollment, staffing, and professional development
  • Educational entrepreneurism
example of proactive systemic reform
Example of proactive, systemic reform
  • Students with special needs: Archdiocese of St. Louis

The Learning Consultant Model raises the capacity of general education teachers to meet the needs of the diversity of learners in their classrooms

key dimensions of model
Key Dimensions of Model
  • Learning Consultant (LC) as coach
  • LC develops relationships laterally, vertically, and diagonally
  • LC helps school community develop tools, policies, and procedures
  • Leadership / ownership for Model is distributed across school community
recap state of the field
Recap: State of the Field
  • We are shedding inactive and reactive responses
  • Moving leadership in new directions : Proactive and systemic responses provide a framework for incubating innovation:
            • Apply core values
            • Cultivate quality teaching / learning
            • Involve policy and resource mechanisms