Friday, August 1, 2008

An Epilogue from the Sad Saga

GSS at The Sad Saga has posted the following epilogue.  It speaks for itself.

This blog began with a single intent -- to provide information on the Rochester Catholic School closings to a community being kept in the dark by its own diocesan leaders. A few months later, with more than 21,000 unique visitors from around the world having read the 160 separate blog posts, it's time to reflect back, and to focus on the future.

First, the "Sad Saga" blog is not disappearing. I'll keep it active as a resource for all the other Catholics around the U.S. facing similar school closing situations, and for the members of the Diocese of Rochester, who may be encouraged to ask much harder questions of Bishop Clark and his staff, as well as scrutinize the diocesan finances. The mismanagement of the school system is but a symptom of much larger ills.

Second, many of you have asked what my family's plans entail. We made the decision this past week to remove our children from the MCCS system, and to place them into public school. While this was made in part on geography (we're soon moving to a town even more distant from a Catholic school that remains, with the benefit of an outstanding small public school district), it was also based on principle. The incompetence of the MCCS administration, its unwillingness to engage parents and school staff in the search for viable solutions, and its unending secrecy and silence on the matter is -- quite simply -- inexcusable. These are not the values that we want our children to learn. While the Catholic school to which we had obtained slots is wonderful in its own right, we could not overlook that it too was governed by the individuals directly responsible for this year's closures. The outlook for the broader system, in my view, is grim at best.

Third, some of you have asked for my views on Bishop Clark specifically. I have met the Bishop, and I truly believe he is a man of God. That said, based on the experiences of the past few months, I do not believe him to be an effective leader. Yes, a leader should make sometimes drastic, harsh decisions, even in the face of massive criticism. But at the same time, that same leader should be among his flock, working hand-in-hand with them to search for alternate solutions, explaining his decision pathways, and always, always listening. Likewise, a leader should replace or re-educate staff whose poor decisions are at the root of an issue. Bishop Clark exhibited none of these qualities; instead, he hoped prayed that the matter would simply disappear with time. So, should he step down or be removed? That's up to a higher authority, but I can only share my strong belief that in light of the schools situation, he is certainly not fit to lead Rochester's Catholics at this time.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you -- the parents, administrators, teachers, staff, family members, community members, and blog readers who kept us going through this difficult time. Because of you, I am certain that no matter the path we all choose to take, our children will be well prepared for success. Remember that throughout this ordeal, the focus has been singular -- it's been about the children.

Also, I'd like to give thanks to the members of the Rochester news media, who continued to dig for the truth even when it was evident that diocesan officials would stonewall to the best of their abilities. A special thanks goes out to Jeff Blackwell, whose 10-part multimedia series on Good Shepherd School was orchestrated with professionalism, humility, and compassion.

It has been my pleasure to help bring life to your passion on this issue, and I wish you only the best.

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