Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Common Core
Top 10 Signs of Renewal in Catholic Schools
5/5/2016
There are exciting things happening in Catholic education, The Cardinal Newman Society has concluded after reviewing hundreds of articles about Catholic elementary and secondary schools published during the 2015-2016 academic year.

A number of schools on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll are expanding and have implemented new programs and curricula to further nourish students in the faith while providing an excellent academic education. These changes involve a number of schools rejecting Common Core, including an entire diocese in Michigan. And we were encouraged to see strong defenses of the faith and Catholic identity in diocesan schools from bishops in Nebraska, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Springfield, Ill., in the areas of morality and human sexuality.

The list below shows that while there are still areas of concern in K-12 education, many examples of faithfulness in Catholic education can be found across the country.


Mich. Diocese Shifts to Classical Curriculum, Avoids Common Core
4/1/2016
Educators and parents are increasingly dissatisfied with secular standards that neglect to emphasize virtuous development in K-12 academics, but one diocese in Michigan has responded by making the bold decision to implement a classical, liberal arts curriculum for all diocesan schools. And the diocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools, Mark Salisbury, told The Cardinal Newman Society that the program has been widely well-received by teachers and students and is improving education for the entire diocese.

“We are enthusiastic about our early successes,” Salisbury shared. “Teachers are happy with the results as well. We have improved our ability to teach students how to write well, students are learning and memorizing more poetry” and the curriculum’s integration of Latin studies “has helped students with English grammar, vocabulary and critical thinking skills.” 


Undercover Video: Common Core ‘All About the Money,’ ‘I Hate Kids’
1/12/2016
An undercover video released Tuesday by the investigative journalist group Project Veritas shows an executive at one of America’s top textbook publishing companies and two New York state teachers insisting that the Common Core State Standards were created “to sell more books” by textbook publishing companies that are more concerned with profits than the education of America’s children.

“It’s all about the money,” Dianne Barrow, the west coast accounts manager for textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), told undercover reporters posing as political consultants interested in Common Core. “You don’t think that the educational publishing companies are in it for education do you? No. They’re in it for the money. The fact that they have to align the educational standards is what they have to do to sell the books.”


Opinion: Major Issues We’re Following in Catholic Education in 2016
1/4/2016
The Cardinal Newman Society’s reporting in 2015 highlighted numerous issues — positive and negative — impacting faithful Catholic education in the U.S., and we expect many of these issues to continue trending into 2016.

In the past year, Newman Society reporters covered cultural and institutional threats to faithful Catholic education, including the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling, problems with Common Core, Planned Parenthood’s close ties to Catholic colleges, ongoing HHS mandate lawsuits threatening religious freedom and scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges. Yet, many faithful Catholic colleges and schools have responded with vigor to the current challenges and demands of our modern society.

Below, in no particular order, are 10 important issues that we will be following in our news coverage throughout 2016:


Further Reflections on ‘No Child Left Behind’ Replacement
12/18/2015
Last Friday, The Cardinal Newman Society reported on a short, two-minute interview given to EWTN Nightly News the previous day with positive reactions to certain provisions of the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by President Obama last Thursday. The law replaced the deeply problematic No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 which brought about lasting damage to American education by, among other things, increasing federal intrusion into public schools, emphasizing harmful high-stakes testing using unrealistic metrics and laying the ground for the flawed Common Core experiment with national standards.

As promoters of the value of a liberal arts education, we question the value and wisdom of excessive high-stakes testing. The number of mandated tests students have to take will shift from federal jurisdiction to state control under ESSA, with students still being required to take reading and math exams in grades three to eight, and one mandated test while in high school.


The Incredible Shrinking Case for Common Core
12/17/2015
Recent statements by Common Core co-author David Coleman about Catholic education have led to a lot of confusion. What’s this about a Common Core advocate urging Catholic educators to have the “moxie” to preserve their incredible heritage and not to worry about changes to standardized tests? 

I’ll try to explain. Despite Coleman’s support for the Common Core — which I firmly believe to be inadequate and even harmful to Catholic schools — what he said is good for Catholic families. 

Last month, my colleagues and I were dismayed to learn that Coleman, a chief author of the Common Core State Standards, will keynote the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) convention in March. The Cardinal Newman Society has raised serious concerns about the Common Core’s impact on Catholic identity and related changes that detract from Catholic schools’ time-proven curricula and methods. The choice of Coleman as keynote speaker suggests support for the Common Core, when what we most need is a frank conversation among Catholic educators and parents about the Common Core and its unsuitability to Catholic education. 


Editorial: Catholic Schools Should Proudly Keep ‘Catholic’ as Their Core
12/14/2015
Common Core co-developer David Coleman believes that Catholic schools should have the “moxie” to preserve and celebrate their Catholic identity and emphasis on the liberal arts — and The Cardinal Newman Society wholeheartedly agrees, despite our clear disagreement about whether the Common Core fits well within that Catholic education.

The Cardinal Newman Society continues to have serious concerns about the Common Core’s impact in Catholic schools. For that reason, Coleman may seem an unusual choice for a Newman Society interview. We certainly haven’t changed our position.


Reflections on Interview with David Coleman, College Board President and Common Core Architect
12/14/2015
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in The Cardinal Newman Society’s exclusive interview with David Coleman, president of The College Board (a testing company which provides the SAT and AP exams) and one of the developers of the Common Core Standards. As a critic of certain aspects of the Common Core and its influence in Catholic schools, it was an opportunity to learn about Mr. Coleman’s educational philosophy, his support for Catholic liberal arts education and his clear and emphatic statement that, “A child excellently trained in the traditional liberal arts will do superbly on relevant sections of the SAT and other aspects of Advanced Placement work — rest assured.”

This was indeed a welcome statement. Since the introduction of the Common Core in public schools in 2010, many Catholic school leaders have been sounding the alarm that if Catholic schools did not immediately embrace the college- and career-based Common Core standards, our students would somehow be left at a disadvantage.


‘No Child Left Behind’ Replacement ‘Great News’ for Catholic Schools
12/11/2015
President Barack Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Thursday, overhauling the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2002 that expanded the federal government’s influence in local education — a move that is “great news” for Catholic schools said The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Dan Guernsey.

“Any time we can get the federal government to back off, even a little bit, from education, that is a good thing. Education belongs, under the principle of subsidiarity, as close to the parents and community as possible,” Guernsey, director of the Newman Society’s K-12 programs, said in an interview with EWTN News Nightly on Thursday night. “Especially that they are backing off of testing is great news for us.”


Pope Francis Defends Parents’ ‘Right’ to Ask for Authentic Catholic Education
12/10/2015
In comments to the Catholic Schools Parents’ Association (AGESC) on Monday, Pope Francis encouraged parents to strengthen the Catholic identity of schools by defending their “inalienable right” to educate their children and request that Catholic schools embrace Christian values and a proper understanding of the human person.

“It is your right to request an appropriate education for your children, an integral education open to the most authentic human and Christian values,” Pope Francis stressed, according to Zenit’s translation of his comments. “As parents, you are the depositories of the duty and the primary and inalienable right to educate your children, thus helping in a positive and constant way the task of the school.”

“It is up to you, however, to see that the school is up to the measure of the educational task entrusted to it, in particular when the education proposed is expressed as ‘Catholic,’” he told the parents gathered at the Vatican.


Newman Society Urges Focus on Catholic Identity Amid ‘Backlash Over Common Core’
12/9/2015
In a widely published Associated Press (AP) report on the “backlash” against Common Core Standards in Catholic schools, The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Dan Guernsey made clear that the main focus of Catholic education should not be the college and career preparation associated with the Standards, but on getting students “into heaven.”

“Right now, Catholic schools are still trying to figure out how they respond to the Common Core and how deeply they embrace it,” Guernsey, director of the Newman Society’s K-12 program, told the AP.

Guernsey explained that the focus of Catholic education must remain “on the development of students' ‘mind, body and spirit.’”


Regina Academies Announces New Education Track Amid Increasing Demand for Classical Education
12/3/2015
A new classical education track called the Regina Chesterton Academy at Cardinal O’Hara High School was recently announced as the fifth venture of the Regina Academies, a group of Catholic classical schools that have seen great success in Pennsylvania and indicate a growing demand for classical models in K-12 education.

“The classical model of education is once again rising and flourishing across the country as a vibrant trend in Catholic education,” said James Growdon, executive director of the Regina Academies, in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. “It is being remembered and pressed into action as a preferred antidote to the failed educational experiments of the last seventy-five years.”


At World Congress in Rome, Newman Society Raises Common Core Concerns
11/19/2015
When it comes to the “educational emergency” developing in the United States, it is essential that Catholic schools maintain a strong Catholic identity in “an era of nationalized curriculum” and relativism, Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said in an interview from Rome where he is attending the Vatican’s World Congress on education.

“Education is not just about skill development and it's not just about the quantification of abilities to make a buck. It really is about creating fully alive and fully functioning people,” Guernsey told Rome Reports, noting the insufficiency of a nationalized curriculum and standards for Catholic schools.

“The Common Core is this new set of state standards that's gone in throughout the United States. And they're very secularized, very utilitarian, very much based on college and career,” he said.


Educators: Common Core Standards Incompatible with Catholic Education
11/5/2015
Administrators from Schools of Excellence on The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll recently told the Newman Society that Common Core State Standards pose a significant conflict to Catholic curricula, and found the standards severely wanting in crucial areas of faithful Catholic education such as intellectual and moral formation.

“Regardless of the standards employed, Catholic identity must be at the core of instruction and pedagogy, implemented by faithful administrators and teachers who understand the importance of their role in the formation of students,” Jamie Arthur, senior fellow and manager of the Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll, pointed out.

The Newman Society has documented numerous concerns about the controversial Common Core State Standards through its Catholic is Our Core program.


Common Core Architect to Keynote National Catholic Education Conference
11/4/2015

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has announced that Common Core architect David Coleman will keynote the association’s annual convention next March in San Diego, Calif., raising anew concerns that the Catholic association remains devoted to the Common Core standards despite serious concerns about their impact on Catholic schools.


This comes soon after the NCEA’s assertion of a “new direction” including “more fulsome advocacy” and “serving as the national voice for Catholic schools,” a role that appears to subvert the leadership of Catholic bishops in advocating and representing diocesan schools. By its own count, more than 1,000 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in America are not represented among the NCEA’s membership.


Independent Catholic Schools Association Celebrates 20 Years
10/9/2015
The National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS), which promotes faithful Catholic education among its members, celebrated its 20th anniversary this past year. The organization has thrived over the past two decades through its commitment to connecting independent schools across the world and offering support. 

“Our schools share a common vision and mission, which is the salvation of souls and academic excellence,” said Eileen Cubanski, executive director of NAPCIS, in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. “Every decision our schools make is focused on those two goals.”

“Twenty years ago, we saw the number of Catholic homeschooling families and Catholic independent schools growing exponentially,” Cubanski explained. These schools had unique visions for inculcating the Catholic faith to respond to the growing interest.


New Book Goes Back to the Basics of Authentic Catholic Education
9/17/2015
A new primer on Catholic education will help Catholic educators better understand the Catholic intellectual tradition and build a foundation for morally forming students. The book, Renewing the Mind: A Reader in the Philosophy of Catholic Education, is written by Dr. Ryan Topping, who spoke to The Cardinal Newman Society on how his book will benefit Catholic education.

“It’s no secret that Catholic schools have suffered in recent years in North America, and in most other places,” said Topping, who is also a fellow at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H. “One way we can rebuild is by helping parents and teachers deepen their understanding of the principles that support their practice.” He hopes that Renewing the Mind “in due time will become a standard text in Catholic teacher-training programs and courses in the philosophy of education across the English speaking world.”

Topping’s book has come at a time when Catholic education is being renewed to better integrate students’ moral and spiritual formation with their academic formation. The sources and works which his reader highlights are directed toward this integration.


Gates Foundation Gave $1.2 Million to Loyola Marymount for Common Core Events
8/14/2015
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded a day of Common Core pep rallies across California last month, including a $1.2 million grant to Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles. Both LMU and St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, hosted events to get educators excited about the controversial school standards embraced by many public and Catholic schools.

The Loyola Marymount and St. Mary’s College rallies on July 31, titled “Better Together: California Teachers Summit,” were among 33 coordinated events across the state involving more than 15,000 teachers. They gathered to share best practices and learn how to implement Common Core standards in their schools, amid a lot of glitz and glamor—including video presentations from Harrison Ford, John Hamm and Meryl Streep.

The Summit was not only for public school teachers, and at least some Catholic school teachers were present, according to EdSource.


Homeschooled Students Increase as Concerns over Common Core Remain
7/23/2015
The latest studies show that an increasing number of students are being homeschooled by their parents in order to avoid Common Core, which is found even in many Catholic schools. There is no question that the link is there and that parents are extremely concerned about how Common Core will affect their children’s Catholic education, said Florida Catholics Against Common Core’s Rolando Perez. 

The Florida Department of Education recently released a report detailing a 9.6 percent increase in children being homeschooled, the largest increase in five years, according to the Herald Tribune. Since 2010, nearly 25,000 additional students in Florida have opted for homeschooling in lieu of public and Catholic school options. 

“There is great concern about the indoctrination, data mining and constant testing that Common Core has brought to schools, including Catholic schools,” said Perez, who along with other concerned parents formed Florida Catholics Against Common Core. The priority for Common Core State Standards seems to be preparing students for future jobs, Perez affirmed. The standards then become utilitarian and distract from students’ moral and spiritual formation by placing too much emphasis on testing and performance.


Five Years Since Launch of Common Core, Concerns Remain for Catholic Schools
5/28/2015
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.”


Common Core Turns Five
5/28/2015
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.


Bishop Points to Concerns with Common Core Standards, Says He Cannot Endorse Them
3/16/2015
Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon has responded to growing alarm regarding the Common Core State Standards and their impact on Catholic education.


Common Core a Dangerous Distraction to Catholic Identity, Says Newman Society President
2/4/2015
Rather than the Common Core, "the key standard for Catholic schools ought to be providing a very good Catholic education that teaches and forms young people in the faith," Reilly stated.


Increase in Homeschooling Linked to Common Core Implementation
11/20/2014
Evidence shows that parents are choosing to homeschool their children in order to escape the Common Core State Standards, two leaders in the Catholic homeschooling field told The Cardinal Newman Society.


Poll on Common Core Reveals Significant Concerns from Parents and Teachers
11/6/2014
A majority of parents and teachers in public education have expressed significant concern and dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, according to Gallup's recent survey results.


Newman Society: Gates Foundation’s ‘Heavy-Handed Interference in Catholic Education’ Invites Scrutiny
9/29/2014
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts to push the Common Core in Catholic schools “will only raise more questions” about the standards, said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly in an interview with Breitbart News.


Bill Donohue: Common Core Proponents Strong-Arming Catholic Schools
9/25/2014
Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote in an article today, “[W]e do object to the tactics being used by paid advocates [of Common Core] to whip Catholics into line.”


Gates-Funded Lobby Pushes Common Core in Catholic Schools, Targets Newman Society
9/23/2014
Sara Pruzin, a state operations associate for the Council for a Strong America (CSA) and former communications intern for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, unwittingly contacted a Cardinal Newman Society leader to rally Catholic support for the Common Core.


Catholic Schools Struggle to Appeal to Right Market, Argues Writer
9/18/2014
"Catholic schools are under tremendous financial pressure," wrote Jennifer Fitz, but trying to appeal to a more mainstream, wealthier market can have the undesirable side effect of diluting the faith taught in the school.


Common Core ‘Raises an Alarm’
9/11/2014
The Common Core “rightfully raises an alarm” when all its factors are considered, argued Dan Guernsey, director of The Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 program, in a recent segment on Register Radio.


Culture Influences Student Performance, Says Author Russell Shaw
8/13/2014
Russell Shaw of OSV Newsweekly recently shared his take on the controversy surrounding the Common Core and the broader problem of the negative impact the culture has on student performance.


10 Facts Every Catholic Should Know About the Common Core
8/1/2014
As a part of The Cardinal Newman Society’s work to help Catholic families, educators and Church leaders better understand the Common Core State Standards, the Newman Society has released “10 Facts Every Catholic Should Know About the Common Core.”


Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Legislative Repeal of Common Core
7/16/2014
A lawsuit accused the Oklahoma legislators of overreaching their constitutional authority, but the court ruled 8-1 in favor of the legislature.


Support Grows for Congressional Investigation into Common Core
6/10/2014
“The idea that the richest man in America can purchase and–working closely with the U.S. Department of Education–impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal.”


U.S. Bishops’ Common Core Document Focuses on Catholic Identity, Says Expert
6/5/2014
“The benefit of the Common Core controversy is that it has surfaced some of the threats of secularization in our schools,” writes Dr. Dan Guernsey.


Milwaukee Archbishop Listecki Responds to Parents’ Petition Against Common Core
6/5/2014
Archbishop Jerome Listecki said the standards are a useful “reference” but that the schools maintain a “strong commitment to Catholic identity” in education, according to FoxNews.com.


Bishops' Common Core Statement Could Be 'Turning Point,' Says Newman Society President
5/20/2014
“This is an opportunity for Catholic schools to rediscover and embrace their core mission,” Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly told Breitbart News. 


U.S. Bishops Acknowledge Common Core Concerns, Affirm Importance of Catholic Mission in Schools
5/15/2014
“Catholic schools must consider standards that support the mission and purpose of the school as a Catholic institution,” states the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Catholic Education in a recent document.


New Poll Shows Lack of Parent Involvement in Common Core, Author Says
5/5/2014
A new Gallup Poll shows that nearly one third of public school parents have not heard anything about the Common Core State Standards.


‘FOX & Friends’ Spotlights Common Core Concerns in Newman Society Interview
4/22/2014
“…So there’s a fundamental difference in what Common Core is doing – it’s preparing kids for what happens after 18, versus preparing kids for life.”


FOX News Features Common Core in Catholic Schools Debate, Newman Society Interviewed
4/16/2014
“Beauty, truth, and knowledge” are lost when Catholic schools adopt the Common Core, Bob Laird told FOX News correspondent Peter Doocy.


Pope Francis Defends Parents’ Right to Decide ‘Moral and Religious’ Education for Children
4/14/2014
“And in this regard I would like to express my rejection of any kind of educational experimentation with children. We cannot experiment with children and young people,” the Holy Father reportedly said.


New Online Guide Helps Parents Understand Key Issues, Concerns on Common Core
4/7/2014
“Based on the fundamental Catholic principle of subsidiarity, the Newman Society recognized the need for parents to have a role in the education of their children,” said Bob Laird.


Newman Society President Lectures at Georgetown on Threats to Catholic Education
4/3/2014
“There seems to be a growing intolerance for those who teach and live the Catholic faith—intolerance from nonbelievers but also, and perhaps especially, from dissenting Catholics," said Patrick Reilly.


Cardinal Newman Society Weighs-In on National Common Core Debate
4/2/2014
“We need to start with the basis of our Catholic faith and then build our curriculum around that... The mission of the Common Core is dramatically different than the mission of Catholic education,” said Bob Laird.


‘Embrace the Mission’: Bishop Ricken Seeks Authenticity in Catholic Education
4/2/2014
“Catholic colleges make the greatest contributions to other colleges and universities and to society when they are thoroughly Catholic,” Bishop Ricken said.


Pittsburgh Bishop Says ‘No’ to Common Core in Diocesan Schools
3/20/2014
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh has not adopted the Common Core, nor have we adopted a curriculum based on it,” Bishop Zubik wrote.


Teacher’s Union Unsettled with Common Core Implementation, Rejects Gates Funding
3/11/2014
A teacher’s union is citing the poor implementation of the Common Core State Standards as a reason to reject further funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its Innovation Fund.


Common Core Partnership Reveals Growing Impact on Curricula
3/7/2014
Common Core curriculum giant Pearson has announced a partnership with Bill Gates’ Microsoft, providing more evidence that the Gates-funded Common Core State Standards are being used to dictate school curricula.


Nation’s Largest Teachers Union Assails ‘Botched’ Common Core Implementation
2/20/2014
National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel wrote that there has been “poor commitment” to the correct implementation of the Common Core State Standards in the states.


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