Common Core standards: Reference not replacement for Catholic school standards

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Bishop Ricken

The Diocese of Green Bay is blessed to have strong Catholic schools. It is because of the great work of so many that our students perform at the highest levels on state and national tests and our graduation rates are between 97 and 100 percent. I am so very proud of our Catholic school teachers, students and parents for their commitment and hard work in making this possible; after all, it is about the children.

As of late, the “common core standards” initiative in the public school system is fueling a fire storm of debate and heated discussion in the Diocese of Green Bay, the state of Wisconsin and the nation. The “common core,” as it is referred to, is a relatively new set of math and English/language arts standards designed to help children in public schools “race to the top.” It is an initiative, backed by government grants, intended to raise academic achievement and improve graduation rates in public schools. This initiative was developed in response to long-standing concerns by business, industry and leaders of higher learning indicating that young people are not sufficiently prepared for the work force or higher education.

Is it necessary for us to “adopt or adapt” the “common core standards?” No, it is not necessary. Some Catholic schools across the country are “adopting” these standards, while others are “adapting” them, in the hopes that the standards will improve their academic performance. Private schools are not required to adopt or adapt the “common core standards.” Several years ago, in the Diocese of Green Bay, we developed comprehensive standards of our own and these have served us very well.

I have instructed our diocesan Department of Education staff, school principals and school system administrators that they not “adopt or adapt” the “common core standards,” but may use them only as a reference to improve the curriculum we already have. It is my directive that the schools of the diocese utilize the diocesan standards previously in place and not substitute for them with “common core standards.”

The verdict is still very much out on the “common core standards.” All of the subject area standards have not yet been developed, let alone proved to be successful over time. There is no track record or existing data to help us determine if these standards will actually improve our students’ performance. My position and my direction for the diocese is to first see how the standards actually work in public schools and, if their performance exceeds ours, we will then take another look.

Our diocesan Department of Education worked diligently several years ago to create comprehensive academic standards. Their hard work, coupled with our faith integration model, provides our students with an exceptional academic education and formation in their faith. We must support what we have created and constantly strive to incorporate the very best ideas available to us.

The challenge for Catholic schools in the diocese is not only academic excellence, but increasing enrollment, helping our parishes and parents to really embrace the great treasure in their own backyard. We also need to help to raise scholarship funds for those who may not be able to attend because of costs.

My hope is that the public school systems here in this area continue to improve. Both my brother and sister have spent much of their careers serving in the public school sphere. The service of school staffs, including teachers and administrators, is often unsung and underappreciated. I have great admiration for all those who teach our children, whether in private or public schools.

This brings us back to the real reason we are all so invested in this topic. It is about the children. For the sake of the children, we ought to be mutually supportive of one another in both public and private arenas. We also need to recognize that our approaches differ and that is not a bad thing. That is a gift.

  • Wwssmm

    Thank you, Bishop Ricken! For the schools that had already begun Common Core implementation, will it be removed? Again, thanks so much for this important decision.

    • Wysiwyg

      Your question to the Bishop is confusing. There is no such thing as “implementation” of Common Core, because it is not a curriculum, it is a set of standards. Standards are measured, not implemented.

      • Roxanne Patzner

        Catholic schools in our diocese ARE using Common Core curriculum now. I, too, would like to see it removed.

        • Wysiwyg

          There is no such thing as Common Core curriculum. Common Core is a set of standards. There are lesson plans, workbooks, etc. that have been written by many different publishers that are “CCSS Designed” but that does not mean there is “a common core curriculum”. If you’ve been told that “common core curriculum teaches students that 2+2=5 is a correct answer” then you’ve been lied to.

          • Roxanne Patzner

            Our kids have math textbooks that say “Common Core” on the front cover. Doing daily homework with them and looking thru these books, I do not like this approach to teaching math.

          • Edward Perkins

            Thank you! NOBODY, no parent that I have heard from likes or approves of the Math curriculum in CCSS.

          • Joe

            @Wysiwyg. Actually, it is a curriculum. See: http://j.mp/CCCrclm Headline: “Common Core Is Curriculum, Contrary to Advocates’ Claims”

          • Edward Perkins

            Yes there are many different publishers ALL owned by Pearson Publishing Company, isn’t that interesting! Dr. Sandra Stotsky was one of the original members of the CCSS Validation Committee. When she and Dr. Milgram, both on the VC, refused to sign off their approval of the CCSS curriculum for ELA and Math their disapproval was never acknowledged but their names are still shown as approving the final VC report. This FEDERAL education program is all about indoctrinaiton not education.

      • Joe

        @Wysiwyg. I’m not sure what your knowledge/background is on the topic, but the Common Core State Standards themselves use the term “implementation.” And what it means is to align all testing standards and teaching plans (aka curriculum) to the CCSS standards. That is implementation.

        • Edward Perkins

          Thank you Joe! You are 100% correct and Wysiwyg is 100% wrong. The standards are “test” standards. Students must know the Common Core knowledge that’s taught in order to pass the test. Everybody knows this!! CCSS are not high but low standards. The math is the worst I have ever seen or heard of, worse than “modern math” taught some years back and terribly confusing to students.

  • Amada DeJose

    Thank you so much Bishop Ricken!! Common Core math nearly broke the spirit of my seven year old. She went from being a bright, happy little girl who couldn’t wait for school to sobbing at night because she thought that her “brain doesn’t work right”. It was absolutely heartbreaking because knew that the problem was the curriculum, not the kids. You are such a blessing for our diocese. May God bless you now and always.

  • Angela Stiens

    I am so tired of hearing these are just standards, hello, standards drive curriculum and there is a monopoly when you have the same “standards” nationally, which would mean the text books will all be common core aligned to take the PARCC and SBAC CC aligned assessments. Sadly many people still buy into this mantra that these are just “standards” talking points. Yeah and Bill Gates just cares about education so much that he has spent millions pushing CC. Thank you Bishop Ricken for defending our Catholic standards. God bless you!!!

    • Steve Roberts

      Just look up the words Eugenics- Bill Gates on You tube and hear Bill talk about eradicating over a BILLION people from this earth through “Health Care” and “Vaccinations”! I am certain Bill is a super good guy with a great heart as he pushes his eradication of humans in his attempt to “save the planet” from them!

  • Steve Roberts

    Obama and Bill Gates’ foundation are Evil to the CORE! They are 2 driving forces behind this curriculum and I do not trust their intentions and motivations. I have already seen the type of questions used in their English “lessons” and are extremely partisan and politically charged with a clear intention of brainwashing. I believe this will worsen through time.