Six Reasons Catholics Should Oppose Common Core

Via Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core:

Reason One: 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. 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. 

Not only students in the public schools 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 PresidentBecause 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.

Reason Two: School Choice

In America, parents have always had the freedom to choose alternatives to public schools. Many parents have sacrificed 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 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 choose to homeschool, if ultimately the child and the school will be obliged to follow the CCS from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and then have to pass a CCS aligned exam to get in to college?

Reason Three: Privacy Rights

Never before have we witnessed a betrayal of trust and privacy rights as we see today.  While we watch the NSA scandal unfold, we are faced with an impending betrayal 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 (See this link for an explanation).  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, but this should concern every parent with children in any kind of school.

Reason Four: Religious Freedom

Promoters of the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII),  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 is simply untrue.

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 CCCII website feature numerous books and sites that directly contradict Catholic moral teaching. There are books included in the CCCII Exemplar Unit templates, for example: “Who’s In a Family“ by Robert Skutch and “The Family Book” by Todd Parr, which appear 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.

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 brand of “social justice” is similar to the Liberation Theology movement from Latin America

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.

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. On our Source Documents page you will also find presentations that show the behavioral psychology methods that are being used in CCCII and other Outcome Based Education theories.

(Click below to see National Catholic Educational Association Director of Public Policy Sr. Dale McDonald explain frankly that Catholic schools have no choice but to “get on board” with the Common Core. Email subscribers: If you see a blank space, click on the story headline to watch the video at our website.)

Reason Five: An Experiment

The fact that the CCS are untested and experimental is very troubling.

Reason Six: Lowering of Academic Standards

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 and provided by EngageNY.org. Senator William Ligon of Georgia recently released a comparison of the Common Core standards vs. the exisiting Georgia standards.  

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

Other identified goals include: Emphasizing “rich” and “rigorous” conversations, treating texts as sources for evidence (“show me the text where you see evidence for your OPINION”), less reading and more re-reading, teaching fewer vocabulary words but more of “the webs around the words,” and emphasizing only words that children are likely to read frequently.

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.

For more on the Common Core and why some oppose it, see our popular guide, Common Objections to the Common Core.

Click here to see all our current stories.

Originally posted at The Catholic Beat.