Thursday, May 28, 2015

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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.


Teachers ‘Instrumental’ in Developing Students’ Catholic Faith, Says Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon
5/28/2015
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.”


Pope Francis Weighs In On Role of Teachers, Coaches as Witnesses
5/21/2015
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!”


Pope Francis: Parents Should Assert Proper Role as Educators, Not Yield to ‘Experts’
5/21/2015
Pope Francis yesterday made a forceful plea for parents to reassert their role as primary educators of their children, an argument that has great significance for Catholic schools and homeschooling families and puts education in the spotlight as the Church prepares for the World Meeting of Families in September in Philadelphia and the Synod on the Family in October in Rome.

Pope Francis began by expressing his joy at seeing so many families gathered with their children, according to Zenit’s translation of the address. He noted that the “essential characteristic of the family” is its “natural vocation to educate the children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.” Speaking directly to parents, he encouraged them not to shrink away from this unique and God-given role in education.

“Jesus himself went through family education,” Pope Francis explained. “In this case also, the grace of the life of Christ leads to fulfillment what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that a good family education is the spinal cord of humanism.”

Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said that the Holy Father’s recognition of the parents’ special role is important to the Church. “You have to know and love the sheep you shepherd,” Guernsey said. “You have to be with them where they are and lead them to truth in the light of faith. No one knows (or should know) the young sheep better than its mother and father.”


Bishop O’Connell: Catholic School Teachers Must Be ‘Recognizably Different,’ Share Catholic Mission
5/13/2015
Catholic schools have a responsibility to bear authentic witness to the faith and be noticeably different from secular schools, said Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, N.J., in an exclusive interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

“The Catholic school environment, to be authentic and real, demands” that teachers be witnesses to the Catholic faith, said Bishop O’Connell, who as president of The Catholic University of America from 1998 to 2010 did much to strengthen its Catholic identity. “Teachers in Catholic schools should be recognizably different from their secular counterparts.”

The Cardinal Newman Society has been interviewing bishops about Catholic education and the role of teachers, in light of the courageous efforts of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco to ensure that his Catholic school teachers are witnesses to the Catholic faith. Last week Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Newman Society that the purpose of Catholic schools is “to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the nations.”

Bishop O’Connell stressed the important role that Catholic teachers play as witnesses to the faith. “Catholic teachers in a Catholic school should be faithful Catholics. Non-Catholics should respect the Church’s teachings and the Catholic environment. No one should publicly advocate contrary to those teachings or the Catholic identity/environment of the Catholic school,” he affirmed.


Vatican to Address ‘Educational Emergency’ at World Congress Marking Key Anniversaries
5/11/2015
Marking the anniversaries of two critical Vatican documents on education, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education is preparing for a World Congress this year to address the growing “educational emergency” in Catholic education.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissium Educationis, issued by Pope Paul VI in 1965, and the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1990.

But while the anniversaries call for celebration of the important mission of Catholic education, the Congregation for Catholic Education plans to discuss some of the more critical concerns in education when its World Congress meets in Rome on November 18-21.

“As part of these celebrations, the Congregation aims to re-energize the Church’s commitment to education, by means of this World Congress,” the Congregation states on its website. “In the years following the Second Vatican Council, the Magisterium has repeatedly spoken of the importance of education, and has also invited the Christian community to play its part in education – particularly in the face of today’s obvious, and often critical, ‘educational emergency.’”


Opinion: Archbishop Cordileone, A Good Shepherd to His Teachers
5/8/2015
Since February, the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Catholic schools have been in the spotlight as Archbishop Cordileone has sought to support and strengthen Catholic schools under his guidance. A part of his effort has been to clarify the expectations of Catholic teachers in his diocese. Toward this end he wanted to ensure that the teachers understood their ministerial role as evangelizers of the Catholic faith and that they were specifically aware of “hot button issues” (most around issues of human sexuality and reproduction) that they should not publicly contradict. These efforts were met with a firestorm of complaint, both from over 75 percent of the high school teachers in his schools, plus the efforts of paid publicists and a full-page open letter to Pope Francis demanding his removal for being “intolerant.” 

This week the Catholic News Agency ran a piece, “San Francisco Archdiocese Praises Teachers, Rejects ‘Inflammatory’ Reports.” In the article, the Archdiocese seeks to emphasize its efforts to listen to the concerns of the teachers and ensure them of their support, its openness to input on these issues, and its assurance that these efforts are not an effort to provide an excuse to fire teachers or pry into their personal lives, and that the archdiocese wants to “heal any rifts that may remain.” This attempt at healing within his flock shows the genuine, forgiving and pastoral heart of this good shepherd. 

Like any good shepherd, he needs to keep all the members of his flock, especially his teachers, safe, secure and flourishing. It is important that they know he loves them, cares for them and respects them so they can better heed his call. He knows what he is doing, loves all his sheep, is well-trained, and has access to specific grace from God to carry out this task. This love also requires speaking the truth to his flock, especially regarding the real dangers surrounding them. It is not hating or shaming the sheep to tell them, “beware there is a cliff over on the left side of the pasture and a pack of wolves on the other side of the fence to the right.”  


U.S. Bishops’ Leader Says Catholic Schools ‘Exist to Proclaim Good News of Jesus Christ’
5/5/2015
The very purpose of Catholic schools is to witness to Christ, said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this week in an exclusive statement to The Cardinal Newman Society. 

“Catholic schools exist to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the nations,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “Through Catholic school education, students are daily invited to know Jesus personally, to love Him intimately, and to serve Him wholeheartedly. As Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.’” 

The question of evangelization—and to what extent Catholic school teachers are expected to uphold the faith both inside and outside the classroom—has been controversial in San Francisco, where dissenting organizations like Call to Action have been provoking opposition to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s changes to a faculty handbook. But other dioceses nationwide also have been working to improve Catholic schools by focusing greater attention on Catholic identity.


Majority in San Francisco Supporting Archbishop Cordileone’s Efforts, According to Online Poll
4/20/2015
An online poll posted Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle—a strong critic of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s efforts to fortify the Catholic identity of San Francisco’s Catholic schools—is showing very strong support for the Archbishop’s courageous defense of Catholic teaching. The “weekly poll” is still accepting votes from visitors to the Chronicle website.

The Chronicle—which claims to be the largest circulation daily in northern California—published the poll on Friday, April 17. Readers are invited to respond to the question, “Should Pope Francis remove Archbishop Cordileone from the San Francisco archdiocese?”

As of Monday afternoon, April 20, almost nine out of 10 respondents supported the Archbishop. An overwhelming 77 percent of respondents selected the answer, “No, the archbishop is upholding the values of the Catholic Church.”


Cincinnati Superintendent Defends Notion of Catholic School Teacher as ‘Minister’
3/27/2015
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s references to the “ministry” of Catholic education may be controversial in San Francisco, but in other dioceses like the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the same language is already embraced in Catholic schools. In an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Cincinnati’s superintendent of Catholic schools provided compelling reasons to understand teachers as “ministers.”


Catholic Schools Are ‘Vehicles’ of Pro-Life Movement, Say Pro-Life Leaders
3/27/2015
With a growing emphasis on the Church's pro-life teachings in Catholic education and demand for pro-life curricula, Catholic schools have the opportunity to become indispensable “vehicles” in the pro-life movement, said The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Jamie Arthur.


Catholic Schools Must Place Learning in Light of Christ, Says President of Austrian Catholic College
3/18/2015
Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau, the president of the International Theological Institute (ITI) in Trumau, Austria, recently wrote an article for Plough magazine, titled “What’s the Point of Christian Education: Preparing Children for the Freedom – and Cost –of Discipleship”. In it he discussed faithful education and explained how stories of persecution and martyrdom can teach children critical lessons.*****Stories of Christian martyrdom show children “the reality of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world” and communicate lessons of discipleship, faithfulness, and formation, argued Alting von Geusau, who also founded the Schola Thomas Morus high school in Austria.

“[W]e must foster in children the desire to pursue the truth with a listening heart, one that applies reason and is guided by a living faith,” Alting von Geusau, asserted in his piece. “Our families, our schools, and our churches should all be places where children receive this kind of formation – an education that sets all we learn and do in the light of Christ.”

Discipleship is primarily a friendship with Christ that serves as a foundation for the rest of one’s life, he explained. Through this relationship students can learn to see others as Christ sees them and to develop virtuous human friendships.


University of St. Thomas in Houston Offers Sports and Music Camps This Summer
3/18/2015
Athletes ages four and older are invited to participate in one of the Celts Sports Camps for basketball, volleyball, or soccer. UST will also offer a variety of quality music camps for students entering grades three through twelve.


High Tuition of Catholic Schools Presents Challenge to Families, Says Author
3/17/2015
The rising tuition costs of private Catholic schools has made it difficult for families to provide spiritual formation to children while maintaining their financial stability, but parents can consider alternate avenues, such as classical schools.


Catholic Univ. Summer Programs Give High School Students Jumpstart for College
3/17/2015
The summer experience is built to allow students to participate in CUA's engineering, drama, or architecture programs, get a taste for college life, and enjoy recreational activities in the nation's capital.


Mount St. Mary’s Offers Young Student-Athletes Chance to Experience College Athletics
3/17/2015
The camps allow students to develop their skills, meet other athletes, and experience life on a college campus. Soccer and basketball programs are being offered for both boys and girls, as well as baseball and lacrosse camps for boys.


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.


Catholic School Launches Campaign to Pray One Million Hail Marys for Pope’s Safety
3/12/2015
The prayer campaign quickly spread throughout the school community and now to the St. Charles Catholic and Brother Martin diocesan high schools. More than 730,000 Hail Marys have been recorded so far, the Clarion Herald reported at the time of publication.


Congress Needs to Overturn Unconstitutional D.C. Laws, Say Heritage Foundation Scholars
3/10/2015
Congress has a responsibility to stop two unconstitutional bills due to their potential to severely impede religious freedom in the District of Columbia, Ryan Anderson and Sarah Torre contend in a recent issue brief from The Heritage Foundation.


Ghanaian Bishops Encourage Catholic Schools to Maintain Traditions, Practices
3/9/2015
Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu of Konongo-Mampong in Ghana, along with the other Ghanaian bishops, is defending the Catholic identity of Catholic schools in the face of threats to their religious freedom.


Respect Archdiocese’s Right to Protect Catholic Identity of Schools, Argue Policy Experts
3/9/2015
Catholic schools have a right to ensure that Catholic teaching is being properly maintained in their institutions and the government should not coerce them to do otherwise, argued a recent piece published by The Wall Street Journal.


Catholic Education Must Develop a Love of Singing, Liturgy in Students
3/6/2015
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry contended in a recent Patheos article that Catholic education has a unique duty to impart a love of art and beauty to students and that this could be accomplished through encouraging enthusiastic involvement in liturgical singing.


San Francisco Catholic School Teachers Sign Petition against Morality Clauses
3/4/2015
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been working to protect and promote the Catholic identity of schools in the archdiocese, but some Catholic high school teachers are stirring up controversy.


Cardinal Wuerl: Catholics Should Speak up for Faith amidst Religious Freedom Attacks
3/3/2015
This Lent gives Catholics a perfect opportunity to defend the faith, argued Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington in a recent post critiquing the double standard presented by two Washington, D.C., laws attacking the religious freedom of Catholic schools.


Archbishop Cordileone Won’t Back Down on Efforts to Strengthen Catholic Schools
2/19/2015
Despite negative reactions, Archbishop Cordileone as a shepherd "knows the wolves and is not afraid to confront them," argued The Cardinal Newman Society's Gerri Downing Laird in a recent piece at Crisis Magazine.


Oakland Bishop Issues Updated Contracts, Teachers Must Act in Accord with Catholic Teaching
2/13/2015
This new revision is part of a growing trend among Catholic dioceses to ensure the Catholic identity of their educational institutions by giving teachers clear guidance regarding moral conduct.


Archbishop Cordileone a ‘True Shepherd of Catholic Schools,’ Argues Newman Society’s Bob Laird
2/12/2015
Despite severe criticism, Archbishop Cordileone is taking a stand and helping Catholic schools fulfill their true mission, argued Bob Laird, vice president for program development at The Cardinal Newman Society, in his San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.


Classic Literature Crucial to Academic Formation, Argue Experts at Faithful Colleges
2/10/2015
Exposure to classical literature remains one of the most significant sources of academic formation for children, academic experts from two Newman Guide-recommended colleges recently told the National Catholic Register.


Pope Francis Speaks with Young People Online as Part of Education Initiative
2/10/2015
Pope Francis recently held a Google Hangout session with handicapped young people across the world in conjunction with his education project, Scholas Occurrentes, a global project dedicated to promoting peace and education to children everywhere.


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.


Study Reveals One Third of Newly Professed Religious in 2014 Attended Catholic Colleges
2/2/2015
The recent study also included many other noteworthy facts concerning the relationship between religious life and Catholic education in the United States.


Faculty Formation, Hiring Are Critical in Strengthening Catholic Schools, Says Archbishop
1/30/2015
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco recently emphasized the need for schools to focus on proper faculty formation and hiring in order to effectively hand on the Catholic faith to students, according to the National Catholic Register.


Interview: Armstrong Amendment’s Author Says D.C. Will Lose Fight against Religious Educators
1/29/2015
Former U.S. Senator William Armstrong, who authored the 1989 “Armstrong Amendment”, told The Cardinal Newman Society that he expects D.C.’s repeal of the Amendment to be overturned by Congress or federal courts.


On Feast of St. Thomas, School Leaders Agree: Mass Attendance Yields Academic Success
1/28/2015
Students who attend church frequently are more likely to succeed in school, according to a recent study. But this is no surprise for several leaders of faithful Catholic schools, who agree that devotion to God and intellectual pursuits are in harmony.


New Preschools in San Francisco Archdiocese Support Faith, Family, Says School Director
1/27/2015
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has experienced strong growth in its Catholic preschools, according to Catholic San Francisco, resulting in increased spiritual outreach to parents and children.


Bishop Zubik: Catholic Schools Are Crucial to Church’s Evangelizing Mission
1/26/2015
Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh recently spoke about the impact and influence that his Catholic education had on him, noting that Catholic schools are essential to carrying out the Church’s mission of evangelization, according to The Pittsburgh Catholic.


Archbishop Lucas: We Want Our Catholic Schools to Be Vibrant
1/22/2015
The various challenges facing Catholic schools and their mission in serving the New Evangelization were recently discussed at length during an online conference hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Neb.


Homeschooling Experts Affirm Parents’ Primary Educator Role despite Government Oversight
1/20/2015
Government should support, not usurp, the role of parents as primary educators of their children, agreed two Catholic homeschooling experts in an interview with the Newman Society about the current state of regulations imposed on families that elect to homeschool.


Ontario Catholic Schools Required to Adopt Curriculum Encouraging Sexual Immorality
1/19/2015
Catholic schools in Ontario, Canada, will be unable to opt out of a mandatory sexual education curriculum that will allegedly encourage immoral sexual activity and teachings contrary to the Catholic Church, according to Life Site News.


Classical Art, Literature Unlock Door to Wonder in Catholic Education
1/15/2015
A fruitful Catholic education relies on the integration of classical literature and art, wrote Sister Joan Roccasalvo in her recent column. Asserting that the virtue of wonder is necessary for education, Sr. Roccasalvo praised art and literature’s ability to elevate the mind.


D.C. Legislation Jeopardizing Religious Freedom Places Church ‘at a Crossroad’
1/6/2015
The unanimous approval of two bills jeopardizing the religious freedom of The Catholic University of America and Catholic institutions in D.C. has effectively placed the Church and its associated institutions “at a crossroad,” remarked Robert Laird, in a recent Crisis Magazine piece.


Archdiocese Creates Office of Catholic Identity to Strengthen Catholic Schools
12/15/2014
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is introducing a new, first-of-its-kind archdiocesan office that will work with Catholic high schools to ensure and strengthen their Catholic identity, according to Catholic San Francisco.


Pope Francis: ‘Christian Education’ Requires Patience
12/2/2014
Pope Francis encouraged the Church’s volunteers and missionaries to provide “Christian education” that acknowledges “serious identity issues” among young people and “requires a patient accompaniment which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person."


Bishop Flores: Catholic Schools Must Continue Outreach to Underserved, Immigrant Communities
11/21/2014
The Church must make a “special, intentional effort” to reach out to underserved communities and to find ways to make Catholic schooling a possibility for them, Bishop Flores, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, stated on Register Radio.


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.


Thomas Aquinas College Graduates Lead Faithful Catholic Schools
11/19/2014
The Cardinal Newman Society recently spoke to four graduates of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., about their experiences at the College and how an education in the liberal arts shaped them to be the educational leaders they are today.


Common Core Just Latest Defective Education Policy, Says Wyoming Catholic President
11/12/2014
“The problems we are having today with the Common Core are not new problems,” Dr. Roberts said on the WCC website. “The Common Core is just the most recent in a century-long history of defective education policy.”


Archbishop Chaput: The Goal of Catholic Education is to ‘Equip Saints’
11/4/2014
The goal of Catholic education is “to equip saints for life in this world and the next,” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stated in a pastoral letter released by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on November 3.


Sophia Institute Press Helping Catholics ‘Relearn the Importance of Catechesis’
10/24/2014
Charlie McKinney, president of Sophia Institute Press spoke to The Cardinal Newman Society about Sophia’s reprinting of the exhortation, Catechesi Tradendae, its importance in Catholic education, and the vital role of the witness of teachers.


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