Pittsburgh Catholics
Against Common Core

Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core 

Concerned Citizens and Catholic Families

Reasons to object to the Common Core State Standards


  1. It takes away our rights as parents to determine what and how our children will learn in school; 
  2. it effectively eliminates the freedom of a parent's right to choose the school that is best for their child;
  3. it destroys our privacy rights through its data collection system;
  4. it will result in the social indoctrination of our children, interfering with religious liberty;
  5. it will lower academic standards across the board; and
  6. It subjects our children to unproven and experimental teaching and learning methods, which is unacceptable.

Parental rights

States were compelled to accept the CCS in exchange for accepting Federal Stimulus money and Race to the Top funding. In September 2010, the Department of Education used this funding as a means of coercing states to participate in consortia tasked with developing CCS assessment tests. The states’ acceptance of federal funding opened the way for the feds to dictate what is taught in the classrooms. But parents were not given any say in this arrangement. 


CCS promoters deny the level of the federal government’s control of these standards, insisting “[t]he federal government had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation”. They go so far as to say that they are "state-led" - it has become a talking point by the promoters.  Further, they have also said that while 85% of the standards will be established at the federal level and cannot be changed, that 15% can be "added on" by the states; it does not mean "changed". This 15% is meaningless since what the student learns will ultimately be tied to the Common Core aligned assessment tests. 


Many families have children that attend Catholic and public schools. It is not only those students in the public schools who will be affected by Common Core, as the SAT and ACT tests, required for enrolling in college, are expected to be rewritten around the CCS; the main architect of Common Core is now the College Board President! Because the tests will now be changed to be Common Core "aligned", it will be nearly impossible for any student, public or parochial, to “opt out” of the Common Core curriculum.  Unless, of course, some states and private and parochial schools have the courage to say NO!


School Choice

In America, parents have always had the freedom to choose alternatives to public schools, in many forms - including private, Catholic, Christian, charter, cyber-charter, and home schooling. Many parents have sacrificed wholeheartedly so that their child can obtain the very best education available, and this is many times an education that is aligned with their moral and religious beliefs. The cost of these alternative schools are well-worth the sacrifice.  


The Common Core Standards now threaten this choice. The possibility that all students pass a type of CCS exam (Smarter Balanced or PARCC?) to graduate, and the rewriting of the SAT test around the CCS, will in effect end school choice. Non-public schools will be marginalized and made practically irrelevant: why would a parent choose a private or Catholic school or to home school if ultimately the child and the school will be obliged to follow the CCS from kindergartern through 12th grade, and then have to pass a CCS aligned exam to get in to college? 


Privacy Rights

Never before have we witnessed a betrayel of trust and privacy rights as we see today.  While we watched the NSA scandal unfold, we know we are faced with an impending betrayel closer to home.  As part of Common Core, there is to be a massive data collection effort on every student.  In fact, Common Core appears to be merely a byproduct, or the bridge, that allows for this data collection of our most personal information about our children. Parental rights and privacy rights that we have always trusted in, are being eroded, and fast.  See this link for an explanation on what is changing to the detriment of our children and families.  This is not a theory; it is happening now.  We do not yet know how Catholic schools that have adopted Common Core will have to collect data, or what they will need to abide by. But this should concern every parent with children in any kind of school.  See our papers here and here about the U.S. Department of Education's goals regarding data collection.  


See also this presentation on our Source Documents page from the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness called Monitoring the Mission that shows ideas about how to collect data in Catholic schools. 


Religious Freedom

Promoters of the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII), which is basically the version of CCS to be used in Catholic schools, are currently attempting to quell our fears by insisting the CCCII is infusing "Catholic teachings" into CCS, is not a curriculum, and will be in line with the Church’s teachings. This initiative seeks to promote Common Core to Catholic educators and hand them tools, guides, and resources developed by them so that teachers can impart some Catholic themes and layer on Catholic concepts, all the while, following the methods and outlines provided by Common Core.  


In fact, the classroom templates published on the ORIGINAL CCCII website featured numerous books and sites that directly contradict Catholic moral teaching. These BOOKS HAVE BEEN SCRUBBED FROM THE CCCII RESOURCES - but we have them on our Resource Documents page.  These books included in the CCCII Exemplar Unit templates, advanced the homosexual agenda, and included books such as "Who’s In a Family" by Robert Skutch and "The Family Book" by Todd Parr.  They appeared on the 1st grade reading list! These books depict gay and lesbian partnerships among a variety of non-traditional families. One of the optional texts in the 4th grade curriculum is "Gay America: Struggle for Equality" by Linas Alsenas, which misrepresents the gay movement as a civil rights matter. It is linked from this website in the Exemplar Units. 


How can this be possible - that a Catholic initiative, sponsored and promoted by the National Catholic Education Association, is promoting this material?  These books will confuse children and adults alike about the Church’s moral doctrine, implying that the homosexual lifestyle is morally acceptable behavior and perhaps acceptable by the Church. 


Further, the CCCII, under the heading of "Making Waves" in a 4th grade unit, teaches a distorted form of Catholic social teaching and social justice and blatantly seeks to advance an extreme left political agenda.  It is focused on molding the child to become what seems like radical activists and "community organizers".  This agenda is no different then the one behind the HHS Mandate.  This brand of "social justice" is similar to the Liberation Theology movement from Latin America that was later admonished by The Vatican. 


An example of a book recommended for teachers to use as a resource for social justice teaching is "Kids Guide to Social Action" by Barbara Lewis. Excerpts show that it purposefully is coaching kids to rebel and to defy family values for the sake of Kids Rights, with statements such as "Are you tired of adults making most of the big decisions in your life?" and "Now, some adults might disagree and say that your parents represent you", and "has your country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?"  This book is linked to a recommended teacher resource in the 4th grade unit for Peace and Social Justice Books. Another link recommended for teachers to use is a San Francisco protest song website -  Is this what we want our teachers learning is acceptable for use in Catholic schools? 


The CCCII also infuses a revisionist history in its English lessons. The 4th grade Unit, for instance, contains a link to a student activist website that alludes to Winston Churchill being a a villain for the bombing of Dresden, and subtly portrays Joseph Stalin as a hero for industrializing the USSR.  


Read the ORIGINAL CCCII exemplar units on our Resource Documents page.  You will also find presentations on this page that show the behavioral psychology methods that are being used in CCCII.  This includes Bloom's Taxonomy (see the Guidelines), backward design methods, digital learning theories, and other Outcome Based Education theories. 


Lowering of Academic Standards

The fact that the CCS are untested and experimental is very troubling. Further, the content and shifts in the standards speak for themselves. We have found the following to be true for ELA and Math standards, as presented by a presentation of the CCCII (see right side bar) and provided by EngageNY.org. Senator William Ligon of Georgia recently released a comparison of the Common Core standards vs. the exisiting Georgia standards. You can see the reports here and here.  This comparison is VERY important to read and is applicable anywhere and shows how inferior the Common Core standards truly are.  


English

There will be a required balance between literature and informational texts as follows:

  • 50% literary texts and 50% informational texts at fourth grade 
  • 45% literary texts and 55% informational texts at eighth grade
  • 30% literary texts and 70% informational texts at twelfth grade
    • Emphasis on "rich" and "rigorous" Conversations with each other.  
    • Writing will emphasize use of evidence to make an argument instead of Personal Narrative.  
    • Exposure to the World through Reading. 
    • Slow down the History or Science in classroom, and treat the text itself as a source of evidence-  "show me the text where you see evidence for your OPINION".  
    • Engage students in rigorous conversation 
    • Students will read to see what more students can find and learn as they re-read texts again. 
    • Give students LESS to read, let them Re-read. 
    • Get kids inspired and excited about the beauty of language
    • Student will develop a fascination with reading 
    • Plan and conduct rich conversations about the "Stuff" that the writer is writing about. 
    • Student will begin to generate own information texts - spending much less time on personal narratives. 
    • Teacher will "GIVE PERMISSION" to students to start to have their own reaction and draw their own connections. 
    • Teacher will develop students ability to use and access words that show up in everyday text. Determine the words that students are going to read MOST frequently and spend time MOSTLY on those words. 
    • Teach FEWER WORDS but teach the webs around the words

Math

The creators of these Common Core methods talk a lot about deep understanding, which they say comes from more than memorization of basic facts and standard algorithms (the way we were taught how to do multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication & division).  They say that everyone can memorize facts and algorithms, but true learning comes from using multiple representations of mathematical ideas.  (Just a few examples of these multiple representations:  “distributive property” & “matrix model” for multiplication, and “place value model” for division).  


These Common Core methods require conscious thought rather than the automaticity that we grew up with (memorization of math facts, using standard algorithms).  What the developers of these programs fail to recognize is that automaticity at lower learning levels helps to maximize the effectiveness for conscious thought at higher learning levels.  We agree that elementary school teachers should thrive to ensure that all children have a conceptual understanding of what they are learning in math, under no circumstances should that be done at the expense of automaticity.  In fact, the conceptual understanding of elementary math that students develop in higher grades derives directly from their formed habit of manipulating the basics. 

 
Math is like any other field.  To master it, one must acquire knowledge of fundamentals before proceeding to more advanced stages.  Proficiency in math requires children to learn the standard algorithms.  This forms the foundation upon which higher and higher levels of knowledge can then be built.  When a student understands and is proficient in the traditional algorithms, they can do any sort of calculation with ease and understanding without having to rethink their strategy


A few things about Common Core Math

Common Core moves Algebra I to 9th grade from 8th grade, making it more difficult for students to reach calculus in high school. (Calculus is a requirement for admission into most selective universities). Further, some students will not have the opportunity to take pre-calc before they take physics, thus making physics harder to understand.  http://www.corestandards.org/Math


The Standard Algorithm for addition is not taught until 4th grade. Until then students are to add using “mental math” and other strategies. http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/4/NBT


The Standard Algorithm for multiplication is not taught until 5th grade. Until then students are to multiply using strategies based on place value, rectangular arrays, and/or area models. 

http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/5/NBT


The Standard Algorithm for division of multi-digit numbers is not taught until 6th grade. 

http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/6/NS


Take a look at these series of articles about The Standards for Mathematical Practices.  These Standards are written in the Common Core math standards and follow the tenets of math reform ideology.   With this, students are discouraged from mastering basic math facts and standard algorithms in the early grades, which are necessary to master higher level mathematics and math related sciences. 

 

Presentation by CCCII showing shifts in ELA and promoting Common Core in Catholic schools.

 

Overview of CCCII, its goals, and strategy

 

Video of Sr. Dale McDonald promoting materials (Exemplars) to support CCS

 

Are YOU C2 Ready?