Smarick said Catholic leaders have a choice: “Keep doing the things we’ve been doing that have led to our slow demise consistently for half a century. Or open your minds and do thing differently. We’re starting to see on the horizon sunlight for the very first time.”
He said some church leaders are too resistant to change. “It was time for the milkman to go away. It was time for trains to get replaced by airplanes. Progress sometimes is progress,” he said. “And that means breaking eggs sometimes to make omelets. So I’m bullish about the possibility of young entrepreneurs and related laity in these systems saying we have to try things differently, and that means replacing yesterday’s Catholic schools with a new breed of Catholic schools.”
Smarick offered three areas that need to change: ”Straight up transparency and accountability” that makes very clear how a school is doing when it comes to outcomes for students; an understanding of the changing landscape of educational options for parents so that Catholic schools are ones more parents choose for their children; and unleashing more “entrepreneurialism” among those who want to run or work in Catholic schools.
Smarick and Porter-Magee both said that many talented young Catholic educators are going to work in charter schools rather than Catholic schools because their freedom to pursue fresh ways to get better results was much greater. Smarick said he was encouraged by what is unfolding in cities around the country where an “analog” to charter schools is arising for Catholic education.