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Bishops’ Statement on Common Core Puts Catholic Identity First

by DAN GUERNSEY , National Catholic Register  |  published on May 30, 2014


Controversy, properly engaged, can serve to focus and renew. The early introduction of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into some Catholic schools has stirred controversy and led to some confusion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Catholic Education has now weighed in on the controversial Common Core an effort to encourage thoughtfulness and to focus on Catholic identity. The opportunity for Catholic schools to refocus, enhance and articulate their unique academic and spiritual goals in response to the Common Core is ripe for development.

The CCSS are new national public school standards adopted by 45 states in 2010. Subsequently, a number of Catholic schools and dioceses, with the encouragement of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), jumped on board the Common Core wave and adopted or adapted the standards. Many of these schools have said they were concerned that curricular resources, professional development, government testing and regulations and college entrance exams would be so influenced by the Common Core that the wider educational community — including parents/consumers — would expect Catholic schools to significantly adopt or adapt the standards.

What school leaders may not have foreseen is the hostile reaction to the standards at the grass roots level. Because of the top-down development of the Common Core on the national level and subsequent top-down rollout into many Catholic schools, local administrators, faculty and parents were caught off guard. In addition, the standards brought attention to the fact that many Catholic schools had been following state standards for a while, perhaps without the sort of discussion about particularly unique Catholic educational standards that has burst forth in recent months.

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