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Catholic Education Daily


Common Core Partnership Reveals Growing Impact on Curricula

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 while enriching software, testing and textbook companies.

The partnership will:

…combine Pearson’s Common Core System of Courses with the groundbreaking capabilities of the Windows 8 touchscreen environment. The Common Core System of Courses is the first curriculum built for a digital personalized learning environment that is 100 percent aligned to the new standards for college and career readiness.

Last November, The Cardinal Newman Society reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding several curriculum developers tied to the Common Core, including one named Common Core, Inc.  Promoters of the Common Core, including the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), have sought to dispel concerns about the standards’ impact on teaching by arguing that “standards are not curriculum.”

The NCEA has stated:

The Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum.  A curriculum includes what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught and what materials to use.  None of these items are included in the Common Core State Standards.  For Catholic schools, all of these elements will continue to be determined by diocesan superintendents, principals and teachers working to meet the needs of their students.

But the new agreement with Microsoft and Pearson, one of the world’s leading education companies, further indicates that the Common Core’s impact could run deep in America’s schools, including Catholic schools that have adopted the standards.

In its announcement on February 20, Pearson’s Larry Singer, managing director for the company’s North American School group, repeats the standard Common Core promise of:

…helping schools leverage this educational model to accelerate student achievement and, ultimately, ensure that U.S. students are more competitive on the global stage.

Margo Day, vice president of U.S. education at Microsoft, says,

We’re in the middle of an exciting transformation in education, with technology fueling the movement and allowing schools to achieve this goal of personalized learning for each student.

Gates, as the “Chairman and Chief Software Architect” of the Microsoft Corporation, signed an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2004 to seek:

…a quantum leap in the quality of courses and in accelerating their uptake by educationalists and teacher training institutions through the available of standards, guidelines or benchmarks on what ought to be provided by those who offer courses.

The Gates Foundation provided $150 million of seed money to get the Common Core ball rolling. It is the Gates-funded project that was approved and published in April 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  The Gates Foundation also gave more than $100,000 to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) to “support teacher training and materials on implementing the Common Core” in Catholic schools, as first reported by The Cardinal Newman Society.   

The NCEA defended the grant by again assuring Catholics that the Common Core State Standards “are not a curriculum.”  Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly noted that the NCEA statement “ignores the fact that the Common Core standards are intended to guide the development of curricula and testing in schools nationwide, which is a clear goal of the Gates Foundation.”

The NCEA has promoted its Catholic Common Core Identity Initiative (CCCII) to “share information, resources, tools and strategies that Catholic educators can use to develop standards-based, Gospel values-based curriculum for their dioceses and schools” in compliance with the Common Core.  The Cardinal Newman Society reported in December that the CCCII website was riddled with problems which required the NCEA to correct the first-grade unit plan by removing three resources which celebrated families headed by same-sex or divorced couples.

The Cardinal Newman Society has developed Catholic Is Our Core as a means of providing up-to-date information on the Common Core and its impact on Catholic education.

“Our schools need standards and assessments that keep the focus on key objectives of Catholic education,” Reilly told a meeting of bishops last November. “Under Common Core, Catholic schools will be focused on very limited, secular goals, and their success will be evaluated with the same narrow criteria. Catholic identity is an add-on, not essential.”

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.


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