In a letter released Tuesday, Bishop David Zubik assured parents in the Diocese of Pittsburgh that the Diocese is not “using” the Common Core State Standards in its schools and has not participated in a controversial program to integrate the standards into Catholic schools.
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh has not adopted the Common Core, nor have we adopted a curriculum based on it,” Bishop Zubik wrote.
“Be assured that our Catholic identity is the core of our curriculum,” he added. “Our Catholic faith guides the selection of all curricula, goals, textbooks and other resources.”
Bishop Zubik dismissed concerns that the Diocese’s membership in the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) might suggest participation in the NCEA’s Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative to help Catholic educators “adapt” the controversial standards.
He wrote, “That project has no bearing on education in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It is important to understand that the NCEA is not a governing body for Catholic schools. By Church law as your bishop, I am the highest authority on Catholic education in the Diocese.”
He also emphasized that “parents are the first and most important educators of their children” and thanked parents for expressing their concerns about the Common Core. The group "Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core" have been working to stop implementation of the standards so that Catholic schools "may continue to achieve excellence through moral, traditional, and classical teachings."
The Cardinal Newman Society is familiar with the work of many Catholic schools in Diocese of Pittsburgh that are committed to academic excellence and strong Catholic identity. Five schools recognized by the Newman Society’s Catholic High School Honor Roll are located in the Pittsburgh diocese, including Aquinas Academy, Oakland Catholic High School, Quigley Catholic High School, Saint Joseph High School and Serra Catholic High School.
A new study conducted by Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy examined the math achievement in states that have used standards similar to the Common Core for the past three or four years. The conclusions show that these states did not have higher growth in math achievement than in other states.
“The Common Core is a set of minimum standards, intended to help public schools with their effort to prepare students for higher education and the workforce,” wrote Bishop Zubik. “Schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have always set higher standards, and we continue to challenge students to exceed those standards.”
Ironically, next month the NCEA is hosting its annual convention in Pittsburgh, with at least 12 sessions touching on topics related to the Common Core, according to its website. The NCEA received more than $100,000 from the controversial Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core in Catholic schools, as previously reported.
One session at the conference is entitled, “Is Christ the Core of Your Standards?” and states that “Educators must and can infuse the Common Core State Standards with Catholic identity.”
Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly previously responded to the idea of dressing up the Common Core with Catholic trappings: “There’s a large difference between infusing Catholic identity into schools governed by secular standards, and starting from Catholic principles, which form the standards themselves."
For more information on the Common Core, please see The Cardinal Newman Society’s CatholicIsOurCore.org website.
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