Milwaukee Catholic School Parents Fume over Archdiocese's Decision to Implement Common Core

A group of Milwaukee-area Catholic school parents are outraged over Archbishop Jerome Listecki’s decision to implement the controversial Common Core standards in its 110 parochial schools.

As reports, though some parents have pulled their children out of the archdiocese’s Catholic schools, turning to homeschooling instead, more than 1,000 parents organized an online petition and campaign that calls for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to reverse Listecki’s decision to implement the nationalized standards from which many states are now attempting to extricate themselves. To date, the group's petition has garnered 844 signatures.

The parents’ group argued that the Common Core standards are “untested, experimental standards that are threatening the independence of Catholic schools.”

Steve Becker, a father of two children who attend St. Alphonsus School in Greendale, Wisconsin, questioned why Catholic schools should adopt the Common Core standards when they already have a track record of success.

“It’s too much of a risky endeavor,” Becker told “Personally, I don’t understand why a Catholic school would go with secular standards designed for public schools.”

Becker added that a meeting he was scheduled to have with the archdiocese’s superintendent of schools, Kathleen Cepelka, was cancelled last Friday due to concerns that the parents had made their complaints public.

In a statement to, Listecki said:

Our approach in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is no different than the approach of other bishops in the State of Wisconsin, namely, that each of us has a strong commitment to Catholic identity, and that commitment shines through boldly in our Catholic schools. Common Core standards are a reference, not a replacement for Catholic school standards. We are not “adopting” Common Core, but rather utilizing those standards, along with our own Catholic school standards, as a way of measuring the success of our students.

Recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has acknowledged “growing concerns about the effect of these standards on Catholic schools in our country.”

In May, the Cardinal Newman Society reported the bishops' concerns:

Concerns about CCSS have been publicly addressed to the Committee on Catholic Education by parents, educators, and concerned individuals within the Catholic community. These concerns include the fear that the CCSS were adopted too hastily, in some cases, and with inadequate consideration of how they could change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. In order to respond to these concerns, it is essential to consider them through the broader lens of the purpose and mission of Catholic education and the principle of subsidiarity.

The bishops also asserted that “parents are the first educators of their children as a God-given responsibility.”

Despite the fact that Catholic schools have long produced graduates who demonstrate higher levels of achievement on standardized assessments that those from public schools, 100 out of 195 Catholic dioceses adopted the Common Core standards, though there is no valid research to the claims that the nationalized standards are “rigorous,” “internationally benchmarked,” or “research and evidence-based.”

Of the five Catholic dioceses in Wisconsin, the archdiocese of Milwaukee is the only one to adopt the Common Core standards.

Last October, over 130 Catholic scholars sent a letter to the USCCB, requesting the bishops abandon implementation of the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards do “a grave disservice to Catholic education” in that they are “contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation,” the letter said.

“In fact, we are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed,” the scholars wrote, “that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it, and that those schools which have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now.”

“Promoters of Common Core say that it is designed to make America’s children ‘college and career ready,’” the letter continued. “We instead judge Common Core to be a recipe for standardized workforce preparation.”


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