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By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

10/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Clearly, there is a huge problem in our public educational system, and something other than throwing money at the problem needs to be done.

Our Bishops need to hear from their parishioners on this incredibly important subject that affects the lives of our children and the future of the Church. The secularist Left has their people installed at the highest level of our government at the moment, and is doing all it can to turn America into not just an atheist nation but a nation that is overtly anti-Christian. The government is threatening brute force to ensure compliance with its redefinition of marriage, and must be resisted. Voluntary adoption of CC curricula that are anathema to Church teaching is the last thing that the Bishops should be undertaking.

Highlights

By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Common Core, CC, education, secularism, Left, Parental Choice, Curriculum, Dr. Frederick Liewehr



RICHMOND,VA (Catholic Online) - Yesterday two items came across my desk that were not only disconcerting but disheartening. Perhaps "tragic" would be a better word.

The first was an article in Crisis magazine stating that one hundred Catholic dioceses have signed onto the Common Core Standards Initiative (CC). What is the CC you ask? That question is more complicated than it appears, and really consists of three separate parts. First, what is the CC, second, what is it supposed to accomplish according to the Obama administration, and third, what is it really supposed to accomplish.

According to their website, "Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy." Who can argue with that?

By now, it is no secret that although we spend more money on education than any nation in the world, we have little to show for it. Overwhelming evidence exists that our kids are failing on all levels.

A few examples:
- Two out of three eighth-graders can't read proficiently and most will never catch up. (NAEP, 2011) (NAEP, 2011)
- Nearly two-thirds of eighth-graders scored below proficient in math. (NAEP, 2011)
- Seventy-five percent of students are not proficient in civics. (NAEP, 2011)
- Nearly three out of four eighth-and 12th-grade students cannot write proficiently. (NAEP 2012)
- American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries - OECD 2012 http://www.oecd.org/edu/highlights.pdf

Clearly, there is a huge problem in our public educational system, and something other than throwing money at the problem needs to be done.

The objective of CC is to provide a common core of standards for education that all students will be required to meet. This idea is based on data indicating that a discrepancy exists between student performance on standardized tests between states, so the objective would be to raise the performance level of students in the states that lag behind. Of course, a much easier way to "standardize" performance would be to set the standards sufficiently low that all students would appear to perform well.

Many of us will remember how SAT scores were periodically "renormed" in order to hide the fact that student scores were decreasing. A summary of this process is that, "The test scoring was initially scaled to make 500 the mean score on each section with a standard deviation of 100. As the test grew more popular and more students from less rigorous schools began taking the test, the average dropped to about 428 Verbal and 478 Math. The SAT was "recentered" in 1995, and the average "new" score became again close to 500. Scores awarded after 1994 and before October 2001 are officially reported with an "R" (e.g. 1260R) to reflect this change. Old scores may be recentered to compare to 1995 to present scores by using official College Board tables, which in the middle ranges add about 70 points to Verbal and 20 or 30 points to Math. In other words, current students have a 100 (70 plus 30) point advantage over their parents."

So, when one examines the official scores across the years, and notes little change, one must realize that the scores are not for the same test, which has arguably been made easier, and are "recentered" so that they are in fact comparing apples and oranges. The truth is that student performance has been steadily declining despite all the "educational initiatives", and perhaps because of them, of the government and the educational oligarchy.

Could CC be guilty of "dumbing down" our educational standards? As Michelle Malkin reported, "Stanford University professor James Milgram, the only mathematician on the validation panel, concluded that the Common Core math scheme would place American students two years behind their peers in other high-achieving countries. In protest, Milgram refused to sign off on the standards. Professor Jonathan Goodman of New York University found that the Common Core math standards imposed 'significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries.'"

"Common Core Validation Committee member Sandra Stotsky, perhaps the nation's premier expert on English language arts (ELA) standards, refused to sign off on the Common Core standards because they 'weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.'"

Unfortunately, CC is not limited to math and English proficiency. There is much more to come, including, Dr. Duke Pesta reports, "The national so-called 'health' standards, developed largely by tax-funded abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood, 'which advertise teaching our kids health and sexuality skills from kindergarten to 12th grade,' he explained. 'I don't know about you, but the idea that we're going to send our kids to public schools to learn sexuality skills is very disturbing.' One of the numerous complaints is that children will be required to 'identify different kinds of family structures' - read: homosexual and transgender - and 'provide arguments as to why all different types of families are equal.'   

Speaking about the standards on alleged 'world history,' financed by billionaire globalist Bill Gates, Dr. Pesta noted that it is broken into two sections - and the first half has nothing to do with human beings. 'It is a pseudo-scientific overlay that is designed to make your kids atheists and materialists, to promote an absolutely materialist paradigm when it comes to globalism; it's highly environmentalist,' he said. 'This is what's going to pass for history.'"

One thing that is obvious, however, from the SAT score data is the superiority of religious, including Catholic, schools. The data is as follows:

SAT Test-Takers Percent by Gender Mean Scores

Critical Reading   Mathematics  Writing

Public      494 506     483

Religious 531 533      528


Thus, it would appear that our Catholic schools are on to something, and that our Catholic educators should be the ones prescribing the standards and methodologies to increase student performance rather than the CC committee. It makes little sense for our Bishops to sign onto something that will most likely lower performance rather than raise it. But the most troubling aspect is the liberal indoctrination that is so obviously part of these "standards", including the normalization  of homosexuality and the re-definition of the family.

But, you say, the Bishops have been very clear on those issues and would never capitulate on Catholic doctrine. That brings me to the second article that crossed my desk, which carried the prominent headline, "Bishop Obeys Govt Order To Remove Catholic School Teaching On Sinfulness Of Homosexual Acts." According to the article, "Bishop Gary Gordon of the Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse has obeyed an order by the Yukon government to remove Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality from its policy on pastoral care for same-sex attracted students in its publicly-funded Catholic schools. "

The Yukon is obviously part of Canada and not the United States, but could this happen here? You have only to read Dr. Pesta's report  above, or to simply look at the numerous examples of how the Obama administration is using the power of the government to promote and enforce the homosexual agenda, to see that adoption of the CC standards would amount to surrendering the allegiance of our Catholic schools from the faith to whatever this anti-Christian administration decides is the State doctrine du jour.

Our Bishops need to hear from their parishioners on this incredibly important subject that affects the lives of our children and the future of the Church. The secularist Left has their people installed at the highest level of our government at the moment, and is doing all it can to turn America into not just an atheist nation but a nation that is overtly anti-Christian. The government is threatening brute force to ensure compliance with its redefinition of marriage, and must be resisted. Voluntary adoption of CC curricula that are anathema to Church teaching is the last thing that the Bishops should be undertaking.

John Henry Newman, in his book The Idea of a University, had a vision for the university that included excellence in education, but in which that intellectual excellence was only a part of personal excellence and individual morality; in other words, character. This quest for individual development should pervade every field of study from English to social studies to mathematics to religion. That is the essence of Catholic education, and we must not let the secular social engineers take that away from us. 

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Dr. Frederick Liewehr is an endodontist who teaches and works in private practice. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1983, having been drawn ineluctably to Christ's Church by the light of Truth. He is a member of St. Benedict parish in Richmond, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Cooperator of Opus Dei. 

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