In the fifth report in a series on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) published by The Cardinal Newman Society, Brittany Corona and Ryan Anderson of The Heritage Foundation argue that schools that implement the CCSS may violate the principle of subsidiary by accepting national standards manipulated by the federal government.
The report is part of the Newman Society’s Catholic Is Our Core project to educate key stakeholders in Catholic education—Catholic families, pastors, teachers, principals, superintendents and bishops—about concerns with the Common Core and its potential impact on Catholic education.
Corona and Anderson write:
A true “common core” teaching of Catholic social thought is the principle of subsidiarity, which counsels that decisions be made at the most effective local level. The principle of subsidiarity empowers parents, in consultation with local teachers, schools and churches, to decide which sort of education is best for their children. The Common Core national standards say the opposite: that educational decision-making is best made at the national level.
Corona and Anderson point out that parents and local teachers and principals have first-hand knowledge of their students’ educational needs ,which enables them to make informed and beneficial changes to their schools. However, national standards such as the CCSS may export this decision-making process to “bureaucratic ‘experts’ in Washington, D.C.”
Furthermore, the goals of government education—for which the Common Core was designed—differ significantly from the goals of Catholic education. As Corona and Anderson point out:
The mission of Catholic education is to cultivate the moral and intellectual development of all students, forming their hearts and minds by orienting them to their identity in Christ and His Church while providing an excellent academic education. Catholic education, by its very nature, requires that local parishes and parents be in charge of the educational decision-making that prepares students for this life, and the life after.
Common Core standards are more narrowly focused, concentrated solely on making students “college and career-ready.” However, achieving that goal is proving difficult for many public schools, the authors report:
Educational achievement has flat-lined despite a near tripling of inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending by the federal government. High school seniors are no better off today than the seniors of the 1970s. Graduation rates for disadvantaged students have remained stagnant. The United States continues to fall behind international competitors.
Corona and Anderson hope that Catholic schools forge their own path and reject Common Core:
It’s not too late for Catholic schools to reject Common Core, this latest federal overreach. It’s not too late to reclaim all that makes Catholic education unique and reflects the values of Catholic families. It’s not too late to ensure that local parishes and schools are in the driver’s seat when it comes to defining curricula for our children.
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