Common Core 'Incompatible' With Catholic Education, Scholars Claim

A group of scholars have released a white paper arguing that the controversial Common Core State Standards are "incompatible" with the system of education offered by Catholic schools.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)An empty classroom is seen in this undated file photo.

The American Principles Project, a Washington, DC-based conservative think tank, released the paper last week in conjunction with the Boston, Massachusetts-based Pioneer Institute.

Titled "After The Fall: Catholic Education Beyond The Common Core," the authors argue that Catholic schools should not adopt Common Core standards.

"Common Core national standards, which were devised primarily for public schools, are incompatible with and unsuited for a traditional Catholic education," reads the paper's preface.

"The narrow aims of Common Core would undermine the historic achievements of Catholic education. As 132 Catholic scholars wrote in a letter to the U.S. Catholic bishops, Common Core is 'a recipe for standardized workforce preparation' that dramatically diminishes children's intellectual and spiritual horizons."

(Photo: Reuters/Mel Evans)Bishops across the U.S. are taking action to teach and shape policy in the face of accelerating threats over the erosion of freedom of religion in America. Archbishop Dolan also named Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to chair the new committee. Support for ad hoc committee work will include adding two full-time staff at the USCCB, a lawyer expert in the area of religious freedom law, and a lobbyist who will handle both religious liberty and marriage issues.

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the APP and a co-author on the report, told The Christian Post that "After The Fall" originated with a concern "that there were too many dioceses out there in the country who were adopting" Common Core instead of "sticking with what made the Catholic schools great, which is classical liberal arts education."

"We wanted to do an analysis on what was wrong with Common Core and why they should be avoiding it," said Robbins.

Robbins also told CP that the primary incompatibility between Common Core and Catholic education was the "underlying philosophy" about the "point of education."

"The point of education to the Common Core creators and implementers is developing workers for the economy. And the idea is that you give people enough education, you give them a good enough education, which is really more training than education, but don't waste your time going beyond what's good enough," continued Robbins.

"Catholic education is supposed to be completely different from that. It's supposed to be educating with academic content knowledge, developing character, introducing students to the transcendentals: what's true and what's good and what's beautiful. The two could not be further apart."

While some including the APP have been opposed to the idea of Common Core entering Catholic schools, others have been more supportive.

In May of 2013, the Arlington, Virginia-based National Catholic Educational Association released a statement declaring that "Common Core State Standards in no way compromise the Catholic identity or educational program of a Catholic school."

"The Common Core is not a national curriculum. It guides the way that instruction takes place in each classroom, allowing the Catholic school to develop its own curriculum content," continued the NCEA.

"The Common Core establishes clear, measurable goals for students that assist teachers in making instructional decisions. The standards place emphasis on creativity, critical and analytical thinking and application to curriculum content."

NCEA President and CEO Thomas W. Burnford told CP on Monday that his organization is neither "pro- or anti-Common Core, or any secular curriculum," stating that NCEA's mission is "to support the local work of Catholic schools."

"The claim made in ["After The Fall"] that Common Core is 'incompatible' with Catholic education is an opinion. Clearly the Common Core doesn't include any of the critical elements of faith formation and faith integration that are essential to a Catholic school," said Burnford.

Burnford also told CP that it did appear that there was a decrease in adopting, also called adapting, Common Core, though NCEA did not track specific numbers on the matter.

"It appears that fewer dioceses, and indeed fewer states, are adapting Common Core, though we don't track who uses what," continued Burnford.

"NCEA's work is to support Catholic school educators, leaders, administrators and teachers, in their work to pass on the faith to the next generation and ensure that every Catholic school is a place to encounter the risen Lord Jesus."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Facebook: michael.gryboski
Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter: MichaelGryboskiCP