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After the Fall: Catholic Education Beyond the Common Core

October 23, 2016

The authors explain "why the secularized Common Core national standards, which were devised primarily for public schools, are incompatible with and unsuited for a traditional Catholic education."

From the Preface:

There are many similarities between Catholic schooling and its public K-12 educational counterpart, but the two have fundamental and profound differences. In addition to providing students with the academic knowledge and skills they need to prosper, Catholic schools have a unique spiritual and moral mission to nurture faith and prepare students to live lives illuminated by a Catholic worldview. It is that religious focus that makes the Common Core standards particularly ill-suited for Catholic schools.

Realizing that combining humanities and the arts with religious instruction aids spiritual development, Catholic schools have traditionally provided a classical liberal-arts education that generations of grateful parents and students have prized. Through tales of heroism, self-sacrifice, and mercy in great literature such as Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, and the works of Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Dante, and C.S. Lewis, they seek to impart moral lessons and deep truths about the human condition. The moral, theological, and philosophical elements of Catholic education that are reinforced by the classics have never been more needed than they are in this era of popular entertainment culture, opioid epidemics, street-gang violence, wide achievement gaps, and explosive racial tensions.

Common Core, on the other hand, takes an approach that is contrary to the best academic studies of language acquisition and human formation. It drastically cuts the study of classical literature and poetry, and represents what Providence College English Professor and Dante scholar, Anthony Esolen, calls a strictly utilitarian view of mankind, “man with the soul amputated.” It is devoid of any attention to “the true, the good, the beautiful.” It eliminates the occasions for grace that occur when students encounter great works that immerse them in timeless human experiences. Instead, it offers stones for bread in the form of morally neutral “informational texts.”

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