Catholic Scholars Ask Bishops to Reject Common Core

school kid middle school agedA group of Catholic scholars has taken the extraordinary step of writing to all U.S. bishops asking them to withdraw their schools from the “deeply flawed” Common Core curriculum.

The New York Times is reporting that a letter signed by more than 100 of the nation’s most prominent Catholic scholars and school administrators was sent last month to the bishops in every U.S. diocese imploring them to not allow their schools to adopt the controversial curriculum or to withdraw if they have already done so.

” . . . (W)e are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it, and that those schools that have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now,” writes Gerard V. Bradley, Law Professor at the University of Notre Dame in the Oct. 16 letter.

Common Core is a set of educational standards designed to bring uniformity to school curriculums across the nation. Although this might sound benign, the curriculum is anything but, and is riddled with serious problems that have both parents and teachers up in arms.

For instance, parents of sixth graders in Arkansas were appalled when their children were being taught that the Bill of Rights was “out of date” and needed to be rewritten.

In another example, Mark Rice, professor and chair of the Department of American Studies at St. John Fischer University in Rochester, New York was shocked at the shoddy and unsuitable math lessons being assigned to his third grader that were full of misspelled words which the publisher later had to correct.

Bradley’s letter cites even more serious issues, claiming that Common Core “would actually lower standards, that it would move parochial schools away from their grounding in the church, and that its emphasis on increased nonfiction reading across many subjects would translate into less focus on literary and philosophical classics, and moral teaching,” the Times writes.

The letter’s signatories include Scott Hahn, professor of theology at Franciscan University fo Stuebenville; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University; Janet E. Smith, Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics and Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and; Timothy T. O’Donnell, president of Christendom College.

These scholars cite the persuasive critiques of educational experts such as James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of education at the University of Arkansas, who have studied Common Core and who “judge it to be a step backwards”.

“The judgments of Stotsky and Milgram (among many others) are supported by a host of particulars. These particulars include when algebra is to be taught, whether advanced mathematics coursework should be taught in high school, the misalignment of writing and reading standards, and whether cursive writing is to be taught.

“We endorse their judgment that this ‘reform’ is really a radical shift in emphasis, goals, and expectations for K-12 education with the result that Common Core-educated children will not be prepared to do authentic college work.”

Thus far, forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core curriculum in math and English, though most have not yet been fully implemented.

More than half of the nation’s dioceses have said their schools will adopt the curriculum.

The scholars are now imploring the bishops to intervene and stop the adoption of Common Core in their schools.

“The history of Catholic education is rich in tradition and excellence. It embraces the academic inheritance of St. Anselm, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Blessed John Henry Newman,” Bradley writes. “In contrast to such academic rigor, the Common Core standards lack an empirical evidentiary basis and have not been field-tested anywhere. Sadly, over  one hundred Catholic dioceses have set aside our teaching tradition in favor of these secular standards.”

He concludes: “Because we believe that this moment in history again calls for the intercession of each bishop, we have been made bold to impose upon your time with our judgments of Common Core.”

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