With the adoption of Common Core, “Catholic education ceases to exist” warns David G. Bonagura, Jr. teacher of theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York. Instead, parents will be left to choose between public schools and schools with uniforms and religion classes, which charge tuition. Catholic schools must reclaim their pedagogy and identity by rejecting Common Core immediately.
Catholic schools have historically shunned the latest educational fads notes Bonagura. When in the 1980s and 1990s schools across the nation adopted an English and language arts program called Whole Language, phonics and traditional grammar instruction were completely eliminated under the assumption that grammar would be absorbed by osmosis. After years of ignorance of English fundamentals and shockingly low test scores, Whole Language was quietly abandoned. From the start, Catholic schools shunned this educational fad and students learned to diagram sentences.
After centuries of success of a proven Catholic pedagogy, Catholic education has inexplicably adopted the latest education fad –Common Core State Standards. Despite Catholic school Superintendents’ promise that the Standards “do not dictate how teachers should teach,” Catholic school teachers in Common Core schools are forced to teach in an entirely new manner according to “the standards” – and not according to Catholic pedagogy.
Bonagura witnessed “this pedagogical transformation personally this year in my children’s parochial school. Their teachers told us in September that Common Core was about going deeper into the concepts and theories underlying the material they were to learn. After three months, it seems that going deeper means writing out mathematical processes in words as an exercise in critical thinking. My sons still do traditional computation, but it has taken a back seat to their learning how to explain their math verbally – a tedious and unnecessary chore inspired by the still unseen Common Core directed state assessments in mathematics.
At a near-by parochial school, my colleague’s fourth-grade son is struggling with Common Core’s version of two-digit multiplication (as may be seen in the video below). His teacher is teaching computation in this verbose way, and her son is required to solve it in this way. Math is not the only subject under siege. From the primary grades through high school, new textbooks have been printed in English and social studies to correspond to the new standards. What will Catholic schools do when their Common Core social studies textbooks present Gloria Steinem and Harvey Milk as heroes of the civil rights movement?”
By adapting Common Core, Catholic schools surrender both their identity and pedagogical method. Bonagura stresses that “under Common Core, children will not absorb and memorize the basic components of learning. Our proven educational success – and our formation of young Catholics – is worth far more than the latest inherently flawed educational fad.”