During the past year, I have presented to several groups of Catholic school parents about Common Core ELA. It's clear from these presentations that many parents, in light of what they've read and heard, are unsettled about the Common Core initiative (math in particular). Of course, underlying parents' concerns about Common Core is a love of their children and a desire to give them a great education. As a Catholic school parent myself, I get this. However, many of the questions that parents have about Common Core ELA tend to focus on misconceptions that either stem from schools, districts or states' faulty implementation plans (e.g. a teacher eliminating the Great Gatsby from her curriculum so as to adhere to what she perceives to be a central tenet of the Common Core) or from Internet articles that often tend to conflate political concerns with quasi-educational arguments that often lack specificity, thoughtful analysis or sound reasoning.
Last month, more than 130 scholars representing many U.S. Catholic colleges and universities signed a letter condemning the Common Core as doing "a grave disservice to Catholic education in America." I have little doubt that as I continue to visit with schools, Catholic school parents, who are smart and well-read, will reference this letter as a chief source of continued uneasiness about the standards. With this in mind, and with due respect to these scholars who have every right to challenge the standards, let me offer a few thoughts on the points made in this letter:
In this brief letter we can only summarize our evidence and sketch our reasoning. We stand ready, however, to develop these brief points as you wish. We also invite you to view the video recording of a comprehensive conference critically examining Common Core, held at the University of Notre Dame on September 9, 2013.
This "comprehensive conference" was more an anti-Common Core rally than a conference. No curriculum experts or scholars who support the Common Core were invited to speak or serve on the panel. How can you "critically examine" Common Core without a presentation of alternative viewpoints?