The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin says it has decided to back away from the Common Core standards but is struggling with the cost of replacing Common Core-aligned textbooks.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, Catholic school administrator Dr. Joseph Bound acknowledged that the growing political backlash against Common Core helped the diocese to back away from the controversial nationalized standards.
“The problem isn’t the standards, but the other stuff,” Bound told the Gazette.
“Curriculum is completely different from standards, and the most important piece is the teachers in the classroom,” Bound added. “And curriculum is more than books, it’s guest speakers, field trips, a whole variety of experiences.”
Breitbart News spoke with Bound about his diocese’s shift away from Common Core.
“The diocese had two sets of standards in play as of 2010 – the diocese’s own standards, and then when Common Core came in, we thought they were good, too, and there was congruence between the two sets,” he said. “So, we made those available to principals and teachers as well. Just getting teachers and principals to use standards was significant.”
Bound said in 2013, parents and others began expressing concern about the Common Core standards and questioning why the Catholic schools are using them.
“They questioned the bishop and us, so we gave the bishop both sets of standards and he had a meeting with his fellow Wisconsin bishops,” Bound explained.
Green Bay Bishop David Ricken then announced in spring that Catholic schools in his diocese would use the diocesan standards.
“Now, we are revising our own standards,” Bound said. “The bishop said we may include Common Core if we want to, but we are looking at other standards as well.”
“Administrators, parents, and teachers are in the process of revising our math and English standards, and they should be ready by the end of this year,” he indicated.
Bound, however, explained the difficulty with the expense of new non-Common Core-aligned textbooks.
“Some parents and others have called for schools to immediately drop any references, textbooks or other materials that claim to be aligned with Common Core,” he said. “The bishop, in acknowledging the expense of all new textbooks, though, decided that we would give them 18 to 24 months to replace them.”
“We told parents or others they could raise funds to buy new textbooks if they would like, but so far no one has stepped forward,” Bound explained. “But if new books chosen to meet the diocesan standards say they are aligned with Common Core, the bishop said ‘So be it.'”
As Breitbart News’ William Bigelow reported Tuesday, most education publishing companies are feeling pressure to have their materials stamped “Common Core aligned” in order to sell to public schools and those Catholic schools that have adopted the Common Core standards. This fact illuminates the significant and continued stream of money that is to be made by textbook and other education publishing companies off of Common Core, and a reason why corporatists want the controversial standards embedded permanently in U.S. schools.
However, some parents are making sure they are educated about which textbooks and instructional materials are Common Core-aligned and which are not.
For example, Tina Hollenbeck, a homeschooling parent in Wisconsin, has developed a curriculum “Roadmap” to help fellow homeschoolers distinguish between those publishers who have chosen to align their instructional products with the Common Core standards and those who have not.
“Common Core is a one-size-fits-all initiative,” Hollenbeck told Breitbart News. “As homeschoolers, we are already trying to individualize our curricula for our children – that’s why many of us homeschool in the first place – and don’t want the effect of having ‘common’ standards and instruction as the goal.”
In July, Gov. Scott Walker (R) called for Wisconsin lawmakers to reconsider support for Common Core.
Many Catholic educators and scholars have been critical of the 100 dioceses that have adopted the Common Core standards, which their proponents claim are “rigorous,” despite the fact that there are no independent studies validating that claim. The criticism was stark, considering that students graduating from Catholic schools have often outperformed students from public schools and there appeared to be little benefit for Catholic dioceses to sign onto the Common Core.
Last year Breitbart News reported that in October of 2013, a letter from over 130 Catholic scholars, initiated by University of Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley, was sent to the United States Catholic bishops, requesting that they abandon any implementation of the Common Core State standards.
The letter stated that the new standards do “a grave disservice to Catholic education,” in that they are “contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation.”
Bradley and his fellow scholars also accused proponents of the Common Core of seeking to “transform ‘literacy’ into a ‘critical’ skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.”
“In fact, we are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it,” the letter read, “and that those schools which have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now.”
“We fear, too, that the history standards will promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today,” the Catholic educators wrote.