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Catholic alternative to state's support of Common Core

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Having watched the proceedings of the Florida Department of Education's February 18th open debate on Common Core, I feel like the Orlando Sentinel article "State stands by Common Core education standards" only tells part of the story. The article made it sound as if the only complaints about Common Core are that they have higher, more rigorous standards and parents don't like that their children will have more and tougher homework.

Not so according to what I saw and heard. Unreasonable standards is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are many, more scary concerns beneath the surface, including:

  • data mining of students' (and their parents') demographic information, including religious and political affiliations;
  • sociological and psychological profile building and adjusting - including physiological metrics gathering via devices like seating pads to measure posture and electrodes for monitoring heart and brain activity;
  • minimized accountability at the state and local level (e.g., if you don't like a reading passage assigned to your child, who can you complain to? A bureaucrat in D.C.?!?);
  • empirical evidence of biases in readings and test questions, including regional bias, political ideological bias, and secular (i.e., anti-religious) bias;
  • pushing STEM subjects on students whose acumen and abilities may be better suited toward the arts or business;
  • digital textbooks and handouts with little to no oversight by parents about what their children are reading (e.g., Scholastic's "Conversations With God" for a non-religious spirituality promoted through school book fairs);
  • inequality towards those with disabilities, due to the "one-size-fits-all" nature of Common Core;
  • and - finally - the millions of dollars spent by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to push this untested set of standards on our state governments without any input from actual teachers (just a bunch of Ph.D.s in think tanks who haven't set foot in a classroom since their intern year).

These were all mentioned by other people who got to speak at the open forum. These are not the mad ramblings of conspiracy theorists who have seen too many dystopian sci-fi movies - these are actually taken from the authors of Common Core (Achieve.org and the National Governors Association) or the findings and professional opinions of teachers and activists on both sides of the political aisle.

Parents have educated themselves about how Common Core is attempting to re-educate their children, and they don't like it. Many are even taking the route of looking at "alternative Catholic schools" (such as Sancta Familia Academy in Melbourne) as a place where they know their children will receive a classical education and not be indoctrinated to become mere drones only cut-out for the workplace. The Sancta Familia Academy is a member of the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS), which has stated the following regarding Common Core:

NAPCIS recommends that Catholic faith-based schools not use the Common Core State Standards as the foundation for their educational efforts. As faith-based schools we have a different mission than public schools. Because a school’s mission drives its standards and these standards drive curriculum, we should not simply use the Common Core Standards as our base and then make some adaptations. The Common Core State Standards are explicitly and only “college and career” focused. In stark contrast, our schools are focused on comprehensive human formation and assisting our students to encounter Christ and to pursue truth, beauty and goodness in all subject areas.
...we recommend caution in interfacing with parts of the Common Core State Standards, as the animating philosophies and pedagogies behind them have not yet been fully vetted by research and may not be appropriate for all subjects and all grades. At this early, untested and controversial point in American public schools’ first attempts at nationalized standards, we believe Catholic faith-based schools should use their own standards to ensure proven academic excellence and fidelity to mission.

Unfortunately, our state's school board - comprised of Republicans and Democrats - thinks Mr. & Mrs. Microsoft and the state governors know better.

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