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Five Years Since Launch of Common Core, Concerns Remain for Catholic Schools
Five Years Since Launch of Common Core, Concerns Remain for Catholic Schools
May 28, 2015

Five years after the official release of the Common Core State Standards on June 2, 2010, The Cardinal Newman Society has released two new reports on the experimental reform and remains convinced that the English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards by themselves are insufficient and even potentially harmful for Catholic schools, which must keep Christ and the Catholic faith as the true core of education.

Even more disconcerting are the many curricula and textbooks that have been labeled “Common Core” but depart from the successful practices and principles of Catholic education, as well as standardized tests adjusted to Common Core standards that have been widely criticized.

“It may at some point be possible to use parts of the Common Core in isolation in Catholic schools,” allows Dr. Dan Guernsey, the Newman Society’s director of K-12 education programs, “but it will be years before we know if it is effective in what it claims to deliver. The first testing on the Common Core just occurred this spring, and we are awaiting first results.”

The Cardinal Newman Society, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and individual bishops have urged Catholic educators to exercise caution with regard to the Common Core, withholding support before it has been thoroughly tested. The Newman Society maintains a website, Catholic Is Our Core, to educate Catholics about the Standards, including the special report, “10 Facts Every Catholic Should Know About the Common Core.” Read more...



More News

Common Core Turns Five

By Dan Guernsey | May 28

Common Core Turns Five
G.K. Chesterton once wisely suggested that a child should not be subjected to an educational philosophy younger than he is. Such wisdom would relegate the Common Core to preschool—and a public preschool at that, but certainly not America’s Catholic schools.

In a saner world the Common Core State Standards, which were first unveiled in June 2010, would just be coming out of beta testing in a small-scale study to determine their efficacy. If data proved they were significantly successful, then various states would begin to consider adapting the proven elements into their own standards.

Of course, this is not what actually happened. When the Common Core was first unveiled during the height of the “great recession,” states in pursuit of federal funding quickly signed onto the untested Common Core—for some of them, sight unseen. Forty-six states signed on to the Common Core, with only Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia refusing to jump on the band wagon. Many Catholic dioceses in the Common Core states followed suit, wanting to ensure consistency with state standards and national tests. Read more...

‘Natural Family Planning’ Course Links Catholic Morals, Medical Expertise at Georgetown

By Kimberly Scharfenberger | May 28

‘Natural Family Planning’ Course Links Catholic Morals, Medical Expertise at Georgetown
A course in fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) of natural family planning (NFP) at Georgetown University Medical Center and a resulting organization to inform physicians about NFP/FABMs are two exciting examples of how professors at Catholic institutions can effectively bring Catholic teaching to the medical and scientific world.

The course—one not normally offered to medical students—is leading to increased research and consciousness on the healthful benefits of women and couples utilizing Natural Family Planning as opposed to chemical birth control methods, according to course coordinator Dr. Marguerite Duane. She told The Cardinal Newman Society that the course is making strides in sharing the latest medical research and exposing a growing number of students to the importance of understanding NFP/FABMs.

Titled “Fertility Appreciation Methods in the Learning Years: The FAMILY Planning Selective,” the class was first offered in 2010 and filled to capacity. Since then, it has continued to impact students at the Georgetown Medical Center.  Read more...

Teachers ‘Instrumental’ in Developing Students’ Catholic Faith, Says Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon

By Kimberly Scharfenberger | May 28

Teachers ‘Instrumental’ in Developing Students’ Catholic Faith, Says Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon
Catholic school teachers must be role models of faith and morality for their students to emulate, Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, Ohio, has told teachers in his Diocese.

In a letter sent to diocesan teachers and administrators and provided to The Cardinal Newman Society by diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek, Bishop Lennon highlighted teachers’ irreplaceable role in inspiring their students to deepen their Catholic faith.

“As a teacher or administrator in a Catholic school, you are engaging a beautiful and uniquely important vocation and ministry of Christ’s Church,” his letter states. “You are instrumental in the development of each and every student as a whole and authentically Catholic person… As such, it is a great honor and privilege to play such a special and important role in the life of the Church through your ministry.” Read more...

Bishop Dewane: Families Have ‘Right to Know’ Which Theology Professors Have Mandatum

By Justin Petrisek | May 28

Bishop Dewane: Families Have ‘Right to Know’ Which Theology Professors Have Mandatum
If a Catholic college cannot assure that its theology professors are imparting the truths of the faith, then families should look to more faithful Catholic institutions, suggested Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Sound theology is the heart of Catholic higher education; it helps students direct their learning, explore the beauty of the faith and better understand their relationship with God and the Church. Therefore the Church provides the academic mandatum, an acknowledgment by the local bishop of a “professor’s commitment and responsibility to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s magisterium,” according to the U.S. bishops’ guidelines.

Referencing Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican’s constitution on Catholic universities, Bishop Dewane noted that professors who have obtained the mandatum help Catholic colleges fulfill their mission. “It says that Catholicism is present and operative at such institutions. More profoundly, the individual professor evidences that desire to teach in communion, to express what the teachings of the Church are,” he said. Read more...

Pope Francis Weighs In On Role of Teachers, Coaches as Witnesses

By Kimberly Scharfenberger | May 21

Pope Francis Weighs In On Role of Teachers, Coaches as Witnesses
Pope Francis last week said that the influence of a Catholic educator “depends more on what he is as a person and the way he lives than what he says,” and even athletics coaches—whom he included as educators—must be “formators” and therefore need their own “solid formation” to prepare forgiving witness to the faith. 

The Pope’s words are especially timely in the United States, as many bishops have been working to better define the Church’s expectations for Catholic school employees, even while some teachers in San Francisco are demanding a right to dissent. 

“[H]ow important it is that a coach be an example of integrity, of coherence, of good judgment, of impartiality, but also of joy of living, of patience, of capacity to esteem and of benevolence to all, especially the most disadvantaged!” Pope Francis stated, according to ZENIT’stranslation. “And how important it is that he be an example of faith!” Read more...
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