Milwaukee Catholic Parents Against Common Core 'Shocked' by Bishop's Response to Petition

Milwaukee Catholic Parents Against Common Core 'Shocked' by Bishop's Response to Petition

A representative of a grassroots organization of Catholic school parents in Milwaukee said her group is “shocked” by a response sent to them by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to their letter and online petition regarding their desire to end use of the Common Core standards in Catholic schools within the archdiocese.

Abby Figi of Milwaukee Catholic Parents Against Common Core told Breitbart News that her group was “confident that over 1,000 signatures would inspire Bishop Listecki to reconsider the implementation of Common Core.”

“This was not the response we expected from our Catholic shepherd,” Figi added.

In his letter, dated June 9, Listecki said he took the parents concerns “very seriously” but stated:

Catholic schools operate in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee under my direction. Period. To think that I would allow anything to jeopardize the Catholic identity or academic excellence of our schools is insulting, at best. The standards of our Catholic schools far exceed the Common Core standards.

Regarding your suggested directives, Common Core standards are just one of many ways we measure the success of our students. These standards are neither “adopted” nor “adapted.” In addition, the standards do not have any impact on curriculum or content whatsoever. And, parents already are welcome to review any and all aspects of our schools curriculum, but to think that parents are more qualified than our academic experts to select said curriculum is ridiculous. So, I guess you can let people know I have satisfied all three suggestions.

The comments submitted with the petitions demonstrate the misinformation being perpetuated by many regarding this topic. I, and others, have clearly and repeatedly stated that in our Catholic schools, all curriculum in every content area is grounded in Catholic Church teachings. Catholic beliefs and values are at the core of every aspect of our Catholic schools’ culture and instruction. Quite frankly, I am at a loss as to what more I can say about this topic.

Our time and energy would be better spent promoting our Catholic schools, instead of creating division oh the front page of our local newspaper. Especially a division that has no basis in fact and simply distorts reality.

As Breitbart News reported June 10, 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 U.S. Catholic bishops also asserted that “parents are the first educators of their children as a God-given responsibility.”

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, observed the need for frank discussion between bishops and parents about the significant flaws of the Common Core standards, from which many states are trying to extricate themselves.

“Parents are the first educators of their children, and the bishops have the rightful authority over parochial schools,” Reilly told Breitbart News. “Given serious concerns about the Common Core and its potential impact on Catholic schools’ mission and quality, parents need assurance that parochial schools remain the best choice for their children — and bishops need assurance that parents won’t flee Catholic schools.”

“It’s going to require frank dialogue characterized by mutual respect and awareness of the flaws in the Common Core, which the national bishops conference recently acknowledged,” Reilly added.

Dr. Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College and one of 132 Catholic scholars who signed a letter to the U.S. bishops in opposition to Common Core in Catholic schools, said that while he respects Archbishop’s Listecki’s position, Catholic schools “need very much NOT to accept the terms of the discussion as laid out by educational utilitarians.”

The Common Core is rotten NOT simply because it fails to teach children the rudiments of arithmetic and the more sophisticated operations of algebra. It is rotten because its whole approach to education is wrong; it is based upon a wrong understanding of the human person. That is why it has no real place for the humanities, reducing them to occasions for scrambling up “skills,” rather than for opportunities to grow wise, to learn how to behold and cherish what is beautiful, and to build up the intellectual/moral virtues of reverence, gratitude, honesty, clarity, and humility. It can no more be made Catholic, while remaining itself, than human sacrifice can be made Catholic, or cloning, or eugenics, or any other fundamental offense to the very being of man.

“The idea that ‘educational experts’ – meaning, superintendents, principals, and teachers – with their degrees in Teaching Administration, and Education, are going to be the most learned, the wisest, and the smartest people in any room is complete nonsense,” Esolen added.

Regarding the role of parents in their children’s education, Esolen said, “parents surely are not only competent to judge the formation of the souls of their children; they are by far the most competent, because they know those children far better than anyone else does, and they see most clearly the results of their schooling.”

Pat Archbold, writing at National Catholic Register, observed that Archbishop Listecki’s assertion that “these standards are neither ‘adopted’ nor ‘adapted’ and that the standards do not have any impact on curriculum or content whatsoever,” seems to be:

…in direct contradiction to the information posted on the website of the Archdiocesan Schools which says, “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is in the process of aligning our existing curriculum with the learning goals outlined in the Common Core State Standards. The new curriculum for Mathematics will be implemented in fall, 2013 and English Language Arts will be implemented in fall, 2014.”

“At the very least, it seems reasonable to say that Common Core has been adapted and adopted by the Archdiocesan Schools,” writes Archbold.

He adds, “Archbishop’s Listecki’s dismissal of the expertise of concerned parents seems to contradict the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2223) which says ‘Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.'”

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