What is Common Core?
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of national K-12 educational standards that currently focus on English and Math. These standards were adopted in Pennsylvania on March 14, 2013 by the PA State Board of Education (with Governor Corbett’s approval). Sadly, we have heard that over 100 Diocese across the country have also approved these standards, detracting from the impact that Catholic schools have in the world today. States were hooked into the Common Core movement with Race-to-the-Top grants they applied for in 2009-2010, and with that application, they were allowed to apply for "No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waivers" if they adopted the CCSS. Subsequently, each state was allowed to add 15% to these federal standards under the Common Core 15% Rule only after they adopted these CCSS standards verbatim.
Why have so many Dioceses approved Common Core when they weren't required to?
"Catholic schools need to pay attention to the fact that the common core standards and assessments are here and it is important to get on board," according to Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph.D, founding Director of the Loyola University Center for Catholic School Effectiveness.
Many Diocese have indicated that they are being proactive in adopting Common Core because of significant changes that are being made to textbooks and assessment testing in order to align them with Common Core.
While this decision may seem practical for Catholic schools, it minimizes its duty to develop the whole child, in a complete Christian formation - in mind, body and spirit. We simply cannot accept this fundamental change in our schools for the sole purpose of a unified pedagogy.
Why should we be concerned about Common Core in our children's education?
Common Core standards are untested and include experimental approaches to teaching both English and Math. They were adopted in 46 states before they were ever written! In Kentucky, the first state to adopt these standards, students’ reading proficiency dropped from 70% in 2010 to 46.8% in 2012. English standards require significant focus on informational texts, versus classic literature. It also emphasizes less reading assignments and more re-reading; less vocabulary words, and more studying of the "webs" around the words most frequently used (EngageNY.org). Read this excellent analysis of the negative impact of the ELA standards on students.
Experts have argued that the Math standards will set our children back by as much as two years behind their peers in high achieving countries. Kentucky tests showed Math proficiency rates of students fall from 73% in 2010-11 to only 40.4% in 2011-12. Read this about the math standards and their inadequacies.
How will Catholic schools incorporate Common Core into a Catholic school curriculum?
Dr. Ozar and her team of "catechist" experts have created the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII). This initiative is aggressively marketing its resources ("Exemplar Templates") to Catholic educators so that they may easily incorporate Catholic Identity into Common Core standards.
However, we know that through CCCII's ORIGINAL website, the curriculum being promoted included controversial books that overtly advance non-traditional marriage, including same-sex marriage- such as Robert Skutch’s Who’s In a Family, which appeared on the 1st grade reading list. SOME of these materials were scrubbed from the website, after it was taken offline for some time. Their new website is here and does not show these controversial materials. We have them on Resources page though.
Through CCCII and Common Core, and as evidenced in the Original CCCII Exemplar Templates, they are promoting a distorted form of Social Justice that exploits authentic Catholic teaching to advance an extreme left political agenda. There are many links to Social activism websites and book lists, and liberal themes layered throughout. These types of "resources" do not allow the school and its educators to fulfull their role and duty in guiding its students to discover the Truth and their highest potential as a whole person.
Here is another way that CCSS is being incorporated in to Catholic schools... As part of their Unit Guidelines, pertaining to how to Infuse Catholic Identity we see this:
“Human Rights (rights of children)
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities‐‐to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. (USCCB: Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching). How does affirmation or violation of the human rights of children effect character development in: Go Ask Alice; Daddy Was a Numbers Runner; I Am the Cheese? “
Take a look at what these books represent (from Amazon) - Do these exhibit what PARENTS want from their Catholic schools and educators???:
Is this just a misunderstanding?
No. This material is irreconcilable with the Catholic Church's teachings. CCCII is fully supported by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and promoted by them on their website. Even though they have scrubbed some of the materials, we question why it was there to begin with? Who made the decisions to put them in there? Was ANYONE reviewing them? Who was protecting our children from this?
In a statement made by the NCEA, it states "the Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum. A curriculum includes what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught and what materials to use. None of these items are included in the Common Core State Standards." However, through the CCCII Exemplar Units, it is doing just that.
"The absence of the Catholic school would be a great loss for civilisation and for the natural and supernatural destiny of man" (The Catholic School, #15).
Visit the CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TEXTBOOK PROJECT - a wonderful alternative to generic social studies in many Catholic schools. These books are rich in authentic U.S. and World History.
It is the first history textbook series for Catholic schools in 40 years!