An article in the NC Register, examined the different responses to the Common Core from Catholic educators. While some diocesan leaders are embracing it, others are skeptical. Lacking in the article is one Catholic educational leader who says, “The reason we are adopting the Common Core is because it is so much better that what we had. I have no doubt this is the best thing for our students.” More often, the response is much more tepid and while they like Common Core, adoption was somewhat required. Cincinnati Superintendent of Catholic Education, Jim Riggs, stated:
“The philosophical reason for our decision is that, in our minds, there are many good elements of Common Core that make sense to us.” Rigg admitted, however, that there was another, more practical inducement to align with Common Core. “The pragmatic reason is that the state has adopted Common Core,” he said. “We moved into this willingly, but there was an implication that we could lose [financial backing from the state] if we didn’t.”
Most contend that Catholic schools have been doing an outstanding job educating children over the last century. This fact leaves many of us wondering whether Catholic superintendents, like Riggs, decided to adopt Common Core because of its quality or to be in compliance. The question isn’t are public schools required to adopt CC (they are); the question is are private schools. I would contend they are not, but ultimately the adoption was made to be in compliance.
The article explains that states have different rules regarding the implications for private schools. Accreditation, voucher eligibility and other parameters may require Catholic schools to follow the state dictate or lose financial backing. Regardless of your state’s policies, the adoption of Common Core is voluntary for Archdiocesan schools and the state can’t force Catholic schools to do any of this. If your school principal tells you they have to adopt Common Core, they aren’t telling you the whole truth. They can and should reject it.
The state can toss out carrots and sticks to coerce us into abiding by their rules, but all we have to do is say NO. Some Catholic archdioceses may follow these regulations out of fear, while others choose to do the right thing for their students. The Denver Archdiocese’s Superintendent of Education, Richard Thompson sees no need to implement the Common Core.
“We see it as something to look at, something perhaps to borrow from, but not something to jump into,” he said. “We looked at it and said, ‘There are a couple of good things.’ But we have rigorous academic standards infused with Catholic identity. There are parts of the Common Core we might harvest, but I can say it’s very minimal. Our agenda is the formation of the whole child, and there’s nothing in Common Core that is going to get you to heaven.”
Catholic’s must demand that our schools make decisions free of the influence of state and financial pressures. In return, we as parents need to stop making demands on the Catholic schools that are outside their financial capabilities and accept doing more with less as we always have. Instead of demanding new uniforms for the basketball team or a new gym to compete with neighboring schools, let’s demand financial and administrative freedom. Their value is far greater.