Clarifying recruitment issue as Catholic Schools Week opens
As Catholic Schools Week is celebrated throughout the six counties of the Diocese of Youngstown, the community will hear many advertisements inviting parents to consider enrolling their children in our schools. When school marketing efforts intensify, as during Catholic Schools Week, or when the media notes outstanding accomplishments by our students, as happens when our teams appear in state athletic championship competition, Catholic schools are criticized by those who are convinced that our schools succeed only because they improperly recruit athletes. The purpose of this brief note is to make a distinction between improper athletic recruitment and school marketing that is designed to remind the community of the quality of our Diocesan Catholic Schools.
First, in regard to athletic recruitment all must recognize that the parameters of athletic recruitment are prescribed in the rules of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) and enforced by the officers of that organization. All of our diocesan high schools and our elementary schools that sponsor 7th and 8th grade athletic programs are members in good standing of OHSAA, abiding by all the rules and regulations of the association. Thus, any recruiting that is done contrary to those agreed upon rules would be improper. Persons, who have a legitimate, documented complaint that any of our schools have violated the precepts of OHSAA need only to contact the organization. The officials of OHSAA will investigate the complaint and, if held to be true, will levy penalties upon the offending school. The Office of Catholic Schools supports the good work of OHSAA and we expect our schools to remain in compliance of OHSAA regulations. To see the regulations that all OHSAA members pledge to uphold, interested parties can go to the OHSAA web site www.ohsaa.org.
Do Catholic schools recruit? Absolutely. It is a fact that Catholic schools must recruit. It is also a fact that not all recruitment is improper. As with any private service enterprise, our Catholic schools have well developed marketing plans that include recruitment strategies. The entire school program, including the high quality of the school environment and academic program, is marketed. A strong, well planned, marketing strategy must address the whole student and the benefits that student enjoys in our Catholic school system. A factual marketing plan will state that 97 percent of our 2007 graduates went on to a college career. A focused marketing plan will note that the 604 diocesan high school graduates in June of 2007 shared more than $26 million in college scholarships. (Incidentally, less than 5 percent of those scholarship funds were associated with athletics). And, an effective marketing plan will also underline the athletic and other extracurricular activities that are available to help develop a well-rounded, productive citizen. A “report card” of diocesan schools is available upon request to the Office of Catholic Schools.
We hold that the religious culture of our schools must permeate every aspect of their function. This permeation extends to academics, the social environment and all associated student activities. The parents and students we invite into your schools must share a desire for a Christ-centered, rigorously academic school experience that also provides quality extracurricular and athletic opportunities.
WALLACE J. DUNNE
X The writer is Director of Government Programs, Resource Development and Athletics for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.