In a recent column for Crisis Magazine, Franciscan University of Steubenville sociology professor Anne Hendershott said, “It is difficult to see how inviting the federal government into our Catholic schools to help create a new curriculum can make things better.”
Hendershott explained that while the Common Core curriculum—the federal standards for mathematics and English language arts—has been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia and introduced into classrooms this fall, a recent poll revealed that 62 percent of the population had never heard of it.
The route to implementation was “stealthy,” Hendershott pointed out, and “involved no parental input and very little involvement by elected representatives.” Despite laws that were supposed to prevent against “federal intrusion,” state governors were enticed to participate when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation put up $150 million in grant money for the cash-strapped states, as well as the promise of future federal funds for adopting these standards.
Hendershott noted how some Catholic schools have decided to voluntarily adopt the standards, even though “one of the reasons that many of these parents sent their children to Catholic schools was because of the academic rigor that was missing in the public schools.”
Phyllis Schafly, president of Eagle Forum, shared in a recent article that she warned Catholic bishops about the problems with Common Core—including a loss of fundamental math, context for reading texts, and classical literature.
Not all Catholic schools have adopted so quickly “what can only be called the federal government’s takeover of education,” Hendershott said. She offered the example of one particular diocese:
Richard Thompson, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Denver Archdiocese has refused to allow the Common Core in the Catholic schools there. In a published interview in the National Catholic Register, Thompson said that he saw no need to install the federal standards in the Catholic schools in Denver because the schools are already “exceeding most of Common Core standards. We’re already there and more.”
“Hendershott and Schlafly wisely allude to the fundamental question that remains unanswered by Catholic educators so willing to jump on the Common Core bandwagon: Why?” said Joe Giganti, the Cardinal Newman Society’s vice president of communications. “Why adopt these standards when Catholic schools consistently outperform the public schools that Common Core was supposedly designed to help. Not to mention the very real concerns about the secularized nature of the course material, which directly conflicts with maintaining an authentic Catholic identity at these schools.”
Franciscan University of Steubenville, where Hendershott is an instructor, is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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