The Secretariat of Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has acknowledged the many concerns that have been expressed about the effects of the Common Core standards on Catholic schools throughout the country.
As the Cardinal Newman Society reports, in a recent document which answers frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the nationalized Common Core standards, the bishops state, “Because the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were not developed specifically for Catholic schools, there are growing concerns about the effect of these standards on Catholic schools in our country.”
The bishops continue, expressing the notion that Catholic schools have a particular purpose and mission:
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.
Of particular note, is the fact that, in the document, the bishops admit that the Common Core was developed for a “public school audience” and is “of its nature incomplete as it pertains to Catholic schools.”
The bishops state, “As our world becomes increasingly secularized, it will be a task of the Church through an appropriate education to help parents and families sift through the realities and difficulties of the culture and provide a solid foundation and basis for living as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
“Attempts to compartmentalize the religious and the secular in Catholic schools reflect a relativistic perspective by suggesting that faith is merely a private matter and does not have a significant bearing on how reality as a whole should be understood,” the bishops say. “Such attempts are at odds with the integral approach to education that is a hallmark of Catholic schools.”
The bishops also assert that “parents are the first educators of their children as a God-given responsibility.”
“Parents possess the fundamental right to choose the formative tools that support their convictions and fulfill their duty as the first educators,” the bishops say.
Acknowledging that individual bishops and dioceses may decide to adopt or reject the Common Core standards, the bishops state that they “should be neither adopted nor rejected without review, study, consultation, discussion and caution.”
In the document, the bishops affirm the Church’s principle of subsidiarity, which directs that “human events are best handled at the lowest possible level, closest to the individuals affected by the decisions being made.”
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 based on the promise of “rigorous” standards that were “internationally benchmarked,” and “research and evidence-based.”
In fact, there is no official information about who even selected the individuals to write the Common Core standards. None of the writers of the math and English Language Arts standards have ever taught math, English, or reading at the K-12 level. In addition, the Standards Development Work Groups did not include any members who were high school English and mathematics teachers, English professors, scientists, engineers, parents, state legislators, early childhood educators, and state or local school board members.
The Common Core standards were adopted by 45 state boards of education, sight unseen, and without any evidence of their “rigor.” The standards have not been “internationally benchmarked” and there is no research or evidence that backs up the claims made about the Common Core.
As Breitbart News reported in November, Dr. Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University, observed that the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)–which functions as a Washington, D.C. lobbying group for Catholic education–accepted more than $100,000 in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote Common Core in Catholic schools throughout the nation.
In addition, Hendershott explained that the NCEA’s “gold and platinum textbook partners” include William H. Sadlier, Inc., a textbook company that will gain from its promise to provide teachers with class materials that will “prepare students for the 2014/2015 Common Core Assessments.”
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.”
In response to concerns about the Common Core, the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization whose mission it is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education, launched an initiative entitled, “Catholic Is Our Core,” to help parents become involved in the debate about the centralized standards.
“This could mark a significant turning point for Catholic schools,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society told Breitbart News. “It seemed for a while that everything was shifting to Common Core, but now the bishops seem ready to pause and take a serious look at the standards, which are inadequate to serve the religious and academic priorities of Catholic educators.”
“This is an opportunity for Catholic schools to rediscover and embrace their core mission,” Reilly added.