There’s been much in the news lately about the “Common Core” federal educational standards, especially since various Tea Party groups have perceived it as an attempt by Obama to create a de facto national education system. I don’t have a dog in this fight and haven’t paid enough attention to the controversy, but as a rule of thumb, anything this thuggish administration supports enthusiastically should arouse suspicion. In a piece for the Catholic Telegraph guaranteed to generate a slew of emails to 8th and Walnut, Dr. Jim Rigg, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s education czar, states the AOC is “adapting, not adopting” Common Core and claims that the archdiocese’s independence should prevent the standards from being politicized. Given that half the chancery offices are run by folks more comfortable with DNC talking points than Catholic doctrine (Hi, Sean, Len, Ken, and Tony!), his assurance doesn’t provide much comfort. That said, I admire that he has the guts to address the matter directly and honestly. Here’s the meat of Dr. Rigg’s column:
The Common Core changes this, representing a fundamental shift in the teaching and learning process. The Common Core focuses intensely on a smaller number of standards that have been directly linked to success in college and career. Rather than running through a checklist of dozens of bureaucratic standards, students strive for true mastery in targeted areas. There is an emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, and real-world applications.
The Common Core began development in 2007, emerging out of conversations between states about aligning common standards. As the Core developed, universities and the national councils for subject areas (math, language arts, etc.) helped to identify key standards. In the years that followed, 45 states and over 100 Catholic dioceses integrated the Common Core into their own curriculum standards. The Army, the US Chamber of Commerce, the College Board, and many other organizations have publicly supported the Common Core.
In the Archdiocese, our involvement with the Common Core began in 2011. For many years, Catholic elementary schools have utilized a Graded Course of Study (GCS) developed by the Catholic Schools Office. Like all curricula, the GCS guides teachers on what students are supposed to know and be able to do by the end of the school year. The GCS for all subjects (with the exception of religion) is based upon the standards of the state of Ohio. We essentially take Ohio’s standards, ratchet them up to represent more rigorous instruction, and infuse them with our Catholic identity.
Two years ago, the state of Ohio began adopting the Common Core. Like prior years, we are adapting Ohio’s standards, which now include a tie to the Common Core, making them more rigorous, and infusing them with the Catholic faith. The vocabulary is important here: We are adapting, not adopting. As with any educational movement, we are taking the best of the Common Core and making it our own, to the ultimate benefit of our students.