November 13 2013
Vicki E. Alger
Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools—whether they’re Catholic or not—do so because they want their children to master rigorous academics. This summer, alarms began sounding over the impact academically anemic Common Core standards would have if Catholic and other private schools adopted them. Note Dame law professor Gerard V. Bradley authored a letter last month, co-signed by 132 Catholic professors, that keeps the alert level on high.
The scholars worry that the Common Core fails at maximizing “the intellectual potential of every student,” and “will dramatically diminish our children’s horizons.” As EAGnews.org reports:
The group then forwarded the letter to every Catholic bishop in the United States. …the scholars’ letter is more than just a list of complaints against Common Core; it’s also an appeal to the bishops to remove the standards in dioceses where they’ve been adopted, and to prevent their spread to other dioceses.
Bishops have a great amount of influence over whether or not the Catholic schools in their care adopt Common Core. More than half of the nation’s roughly 190 dioceses are remaking their curriculum to align with Common Core, which is worrisome to the scholars.
Their letter reads: “We believe that, notwithstanding the good intentions of those who made these decisions, Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.”
Citing the “persuasive” critiques of educational experts such as Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, the group concludes the intent of Common Core is to stop teaching students things they don’t need for the 21st-century job market – such as literature – and instead to “provide everyone with a modest skill set” which can be added to in college, if that’s where a student ends up. …
“Common Core shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government.”
Common Core English and math standards have already been adopted by 45 states. They’ve also been incorporated into revised versions of the SAT, ACT, and GED. Social students and science standards are also in the works, albeit under a different name instead of Common Core.
Push back from the largest religiously-affiliated segment of private schools enrolling more than 1.9 million students (p. 6) could go a long way toward stemming the tide of mediocrity in academic standards for all American schoolchildren.