The Common Core: Education Radically Transformed

Look at today’s newspapers and you will see that Americans are poised to fundamentally reform two huge sectors of our lives.  The headlines on page one will tell you about the healthcare sector.  Our government is even “closed” due to the fight over implementing “Obamacare.”  That’s one.  Look at one of the inside pages and you will likely read about the other wholesale reform, the one of K-12 education.  This reform is more important than the healthcare changeover, even though it is less prominently reported.

I am speaking of the “Common Core.”  It is a set of K-12 academic standards in math and “English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects,” complete with suggested texts.  Conceived by private foundations and political associations and vigorously promoted by the Obama Administration, Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and over 100 Catholic school systems since 2010.  Through grant competitions and offers to “waive” federal rules, the Administration tied federally-developed testing, teacher evaluations and ultimately achievement standards to the Common Core.  Together, this will drive the curriculum and shape the teaching in our nation’s schools for, well, a long time to come.

Why do I say that this reform is more important than Obamacare?  For two reasons.  One is that education has more to do with who we are and what we aspire to become than does the scope, affordability and accessibility of healthcare—although those are all very important matters.

The other reason is that the healthcare debate is about means, not ends or philosophy.  Almost every American agrees that affordable healthcare should be available to everyone.  But there is a heated disagreement about how that goal should be achieved.  Many people agree with the President and those who supported Obamacare that the government must take an extraordinarily large hand in healthcare, if this aim is to be realized.  Many other people who are dedicated to universal healthcare maintain that government is likely to be neither effective nor efficient in this arena, and that the market must play the predominant role in any realistic plan to achieve universal healthcare.

It is true that people in this debate often disagree too about the proper role of freedom of choice (for patients to choose providers, for example) in any program for universal care.  Even so, this argument is secondary, and subordinate: People who agree that the desired end is affordable care for everyone disagree here about how, and how much, freedom of choice fits into the picture.  But that picture (of healthcare for all) is still common ground.

Now, everyone agrees that each child should be able to get a good K-12 education, and that one’s ability to pay for that education should have no important effect upon obtaining it.  So far then it is much like the healthcare reform.  But whereas the point of healthcare—normal functioning of the human body and its organs and systems, or what we call without ambiguity or confusion “good health”—is plain and agreed upon, the point of an education is not so obvious.  Nor is it uncontroversial.  In fact there are many philosophies of education (if you will) to offer.  The argument about Common Core is basically an argument about which of these philosophies shall be ours.

In my judgment (and in the opinion of a growing number of teachers, administrators and parents), Common Core is a wholesale education revision that shortchanges the central goals of all sound education, which are: to grow in the intellectual virtues; to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult; and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government.

Promoters of Common Core say that it is designed to make America’s children “college- and career-ready.”  It is instead a recipe for standardized workforce preparation. Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education.  At or near the heart of its philosophy is the judgment that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people.  The basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set; after that, people can specialize in college—if they end up there.  Truck-drivers do not need to know Huck Finn.  Physicians have no use for the humanities.  Only those destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses.

Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work.  But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclid, and everyone is capable of knowing them.  Everyone bears the responsibility of growing in wisdom and grace and in deliberating with fellow-citizens about how we should all live together.  A sound education helps each of us to do so.

Much of today’s vigorous debate about Common Core focuses upon particular standards in English and math.  Supporters say that Common Core will “raise academic standards.”   But the criticisms of such educational experts as James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of education at the University of Arkansas, are persuasive.  They have studied Common Core and judge it to be a step backwards.   They conclude that this “reform” is really a radical shift in emphasis, goals and expectations for K-12 education, with the result that Common Core-educated children will not be prepared to do authentic college work.  Even supporters of Common Core admit that it is geared to prepare children only for community college-level studies.

Thus far Common Core standards have been published for mathematics and English language arts.  Science standards and history frameworks have been written and recently released. No state and no Catholic Diocese is bound to implement these standards just by dint of having signed onto those in English and math.  But the same financial inducements, political pressure and misguided reforming zeal that rushed those standards towards acceptance starting in 2010 will conspire to make acceptance of the history and science standards equally speedy—and just as unreflective and unfortunate.

These new standards will very likely lower expectations for students, just as the math and English standards already in hand have done.  More important, however, is the likelihood that they will promote the prevailing philosophical orthodoxies in those disciplines.  In science, the new standards are likely to take for granted and inculcate students into a materialist metaphysics, which is incompatible with the spiritual realities—soul, conceptual thought, values, free choice, God—that Catholic faith presupposes.  The history standards are likely to promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today.

This debate about education—what it is for and how to go about achieving its proper end(s)—belongs on the front pages of our newspapers.  The growing parents’ rebellion against Common Core makes it rather likely that it will soon find its way there.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared October 13, 2013 in the Irish Rover at the University of Notre Dame and is reprinted with permission.

Gerard V. Bradley


Gerard V. Bradley is Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School and a senior fellow of the Witherspoon Institute.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    I fancy Jules Ferry, the founder of the modern French educational system that influenced much of Europe, was simply being more candid than most, when he declared that the purpose of public instruction – obligatory, gratuitous and lay – was to cast the nation’s youth in the same mould and to stamp them, like the coinage, with the image of the republic.

    • tamsin

      a recipe for standardized workforce preparation

      or perhaps, a recipe for standardized voter preparation.

      preparation of the cogs.

      • Adam__Baum

        We need good little serfs.

  • Steven Jonathan

    Dr. Bradley, thank you for an excellent essay! The common core doesn’t prepare anyone for college, today, students in college aren’t prepared for college and the common core is even much worse than what is taking place now. “College and Career ready” is farcical language meant to get buy in from the uninitiated. Milgram and Stotsky are secular and recognize tremendous shortcomings, for Catholics, there is truly nothing redeeming about the Common Core, though the false language would suggest otherwise.

    Common Core is a set of final nails in the coffin of the Humanities of the Great Western Intellectual Tradition. It is not seen as such because the false language is prolific and it is an easy sell to an America whose attention has been shifted by gradual degrees towards materialism. Thank goodness for the parents that are beginning to stand up against this monstrosity poised to enter the “Catholic” schools. That we must not let happen.

    • RightThinkingWoman

      Steven, what has been your experience with the standards? You are making a damning characterization of the standards. I have a seen a strengthening of the Western Intellectual Tradition since they have been implemented in our schools.

      My 8th grade daughter just brought home an assignment requiring her to prepare for a Socratic seminar on Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. At the high school where I work, the 12th grade English teachers assigned Dante’s “Inferno” because they realized it was referenced in some of Shakespeare’s work (as well as another British writer whose name I can’t remember right now). Another teacher assigned Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as an informational text to read alongside Beowulf and The Odyssey to fulfill a CC standard. The standard was “synthesize texts to make a claim and support your claim with textual evidence.” The assignment: “Using Sun Tzu’s text, explain why Beowulf or Odysseus was an effective (or ineffective) warrior/leader. You must cite from both texts to support your claim.”

      The freshmen are required to read Elie Wiesel’s Night and discuss how his perspective on God and his faith changed throughout his ordeal.

      • Tony

        RTW — Excuse me, but I find your examples appalling. First of all, Agatha Christie? What the heck is up with that? She is not a great writer — that is popcorn, at best. It is absurd to assign Dante’s Inferno because it is referenced in Shakespeare (and it is not, either). What’s the context, there? Will those students be reading Scripture? Will they be learning about the Middle Ages? Will they have had any instruction whatsoever in medieval allegory? There’s the same problem with assigning Sun-Tzu as ancillary to Beowulf or the Odyssey. That, frankly, is stupid. Neither poem is a treatise on war. They are works of art that must be treated as such — and they should, each of them, be placed in the context of the culture and the time that produced them. It is stupid to apply a wholly irrelevant and theoretical work, from a wholly separate world, to poetry — instead of asking what it is that Homer or the author of Beowulf aimed to show us about what it means to be human. I hate, with all the passion I can muster, which is considerable, such reduction of poetry, as if these kids or any of us were wise enough to teach Homer a lesson. Homer has nothing to learn from us; we have to learn from Homer. It would almost be better not to read Homer at all, than to treat the Odyssey as a source-text for confirmation of points made by Sun-Tzu, or by Machiavelli, or by Bill Clinton, or by anybody else who hasn’t a damned thing to do with ancient Greece. And why Elie Wiesel’s Night? For fifteen year olds, really? What works of beauty do they encounter AS WORKS OF BEAUTY, to learn from, humbly, and not to force into some predetermined cell?

        • James_Kabala

          There’s a place in the world for mystery novels and other genre fiction, and better Agatha Christie than James Patterson, but a seminar, especially a pompously named “Socratic seminar,” is pretty ridiculous.

          For what it’s worth, the actual Common Core suggested readings list doesn’t include most of the authors named above, good or bad – no Christie or Sun-Tzu, no Beowulf or Dante either. They do have Homer and Shakespeare. In general they are quite a grab bag.


          High school only:

          • James_Kabala

            If a school were to base its curriculum on the Common Core suggested readings, but only on those written before 1970 (since the most problematic suggestions are unsurprisingly the most recent), it would, in my opinion, be an incomplete but far from horrible education – better than what most students actually get today.

            There are some bad omissions (Dante and Milton being the worst, and the most surprising one being Dickens, considering his longtime populist appeal), but most of the canonical authors are on there.

            • Art Deco

              I have forgotten the critic who suggested years ago in Commentary that one not assign literature composed in the most recent 50 years as it takes that long for material of abiding interest to distinguish itself from the rest. People producing in 1963 would now be past 70. Joan Didion’s first works appeared n 1963. Tom Wolfe’s first collection of non-fiction appeared in 1964. Pretty much all the work by Harper Lee and Flannery O’Connor was out by then.

            • Art Deco

              I draw a blank on most of the recommendations for pre-adolescents, bar the poetry. One also has to wonder how much patronage influenced the selections (re Nikki Giovanni and Louise Erdreich, the latter of whom is still in middle age).

              What do you suppose is the point of the ‘informational texts’ for students of literature. Was Margaret Chase Smith notable as a stylist?

              • James_Kabala

                Yes, it seems as if some people will never pass up any opportunity to give the corpse of Joe McCarthy another kick.

              • D.B

                Plato for Boys and Girls is a good one

            • Steven Jonathan

              James Kabala,
              You are woefully misguided on this issue, unless you meant to take that list and completely abandon the common core standards, which are not only strikingly similar to what most state standards are today, but added emphasis in all manner of ideology that is poison to all reasonable understandings of the word “education.” The “good” books on the list are merely shadows on the cave wall and what they intend to actually do with those good books is a crime against the fine authors and an insult to human dignity.

              I would love to conduct an interview with RTW’s daughter and it would be fairly easy to demonstrate after an a half hour or so whether the “western intellectual tradition” is strengthened by Common Core or not. My provable assertion is that it is not! And it is absurd to suggest it is. There is the proper understanding of a classical liberal arts education and no other that prepares a human soul to live a good life. The common core is utterly bankrupt, there is no single redeeming feature to it. The only thing worse is the CCCII and that is because of its direct attack on Holy Mother Church, the Common Core in the public schools in an indirect attack.

              • Art Deco

                Take a pill, buddy. It’s a list of kid lit, for the most part.

                Again, I cannot see the point of having ‘informational texts’ for literature study unless they are exercises in reading comprehension.

                It is reasonable to be suspicious of this whole enterprise. Having some common metrics may reduce information deficits in the market. However, schooling is not a service the production of which really benefits from central co-ordination and control or from mass branding.

                In mathematics (certainly), in foreign language instruction, in English composition and reading comprehension, you likely can come up with a passable curriculum which is then paced to students with different quanta of endowment and motivation. When you are talking what goes under the rubric of ‘social studies’, you are confounded by problems of contention in matters of interpretation and emphasis (even if the American history faculty were not a claque of cultural commissars). When you are in the realm of imaginative literature, a satisfying stereotyped curriculum is impossible to construct. That suggests the whole project should be junked. Omnibus state reading lists from which individual schools can pick and choose would seem a better way of proceeding.

                There is the proper understanding of a classical liberal arts education and no other that prepares a human soul to live a good life.

                I think you are bound to be disappointed, always and everywhere. (And nowhere moreso than in an American high school).

        • Art Deco

          instead of asking what it is that Homer or the author of Beowulf aimed to show us about what it means to be human.

          Well, you are the literature teacher, not me. Couldn’t we ask something more germane to studying literary texts: such as what Homer and Beowulf suggest to us about what makes for artful use of language, what they teach us about long-term evolution in the art of telling a story, what they teach us about what men of their era might regard as something to notice and what as something to ignore?

  • Ford Oxaal

    It used to be that the neighborhood school was an extension of the family. Now that career mom has replaced apple pie mom, and the family has disintegrated below a certain critical mass, the neighborhood school is becoming an extension of The State. One giant strip mall for all.

    • hombre111

      In my experience, most career moms are actually I have to get a job moms who are trying to keep their family afloat after thirty years of middle class income stagnation.

      • Ford Oxaal

        How true. At one time, abandoning motherhood for a career was a choice; now our society insists on it. It is very hard to be a mother in today’s world. When women held out to be mothers, wage deflation was held in check. Once women were lured into working for wages, en masse, according to the dictates of the social engineers (or gov/corp/press masters, depending on how you look at it), wages for all were depressed and the middle class was destroyed — no more families — no more eggs and bacon for breakfast — you’re on you own kid — have a nice life if I ever see you.

      • Adam__Baum

        Bull-oney. This excrement started 100 years ago and reached fuition with the war of poverty. We’ve spent trillions of dollars pursuing the kind of garbage you regularly espouse.

        Look at what you and your ilk have done.

    • WSquared

      Just as we need not idealize the career mom, we need not idealize the apple-pie mom, either. Pope Francis certainly hasn’t when calling for a “theology of women,” and neither did John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in both “Mulieris Dignitatem” and “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Cooperation of Men and Women in the Church and in the World.”

      So why are we?

      • Ford Oxaal

        Why are we what? Anyway, motherhood needs to be put on the highest pedestal in our society, where it once was. Motherhood should be sacrosanct. Forcing mothers into corporate bondage is the new oppression. The deadbeat dads should be tracked down and wages garnished for the abandoned family.

        • Adam__Baum

          The pedestal is being crushed under the weight of state-mandated contraception; AKA, state sponsored terrorism.

      • R. K. Ich

        “[W]e need not idealize the apple-pie mom, either.”

        On the contrary, that’s exactly whom we need to idealize, for Scripture seems to as well (Proverbs 31 is anathema to the liberated female). For those whose imaginations are sufficiently enamored with the realm of ideas, the juxtaposition of apple pie and mothers is an apt one, as this brings to mind many wonderful virtues: (1) a woman who has given her industry, art, and self over to the well-being of her family; (2) a woman whose identity as help-meet is embraced and in which we can revel; (3) a woman who is the strength of the head of the home, that entrusts hearth and brood to her wisdom; (4) a woman who makes the family think on Our Lady because she reflects the beauty of Our Lord.

        That’s what I think of when the term “apple-pie mom” comes up. It is, I fear, an old and useless image for our super busy-ness to nowhere culture we’ve imbibed to the dregs.

        • Tony

          Sigrid Undset, a convert to Catholicism and a champion of womanhood, a “feminist” if you will, but a woman open-eyed about the sins of women and about the absolute necessity of self-giving motherhood, wrote that there ought to be somebody in a society who is not to be bought. She also wrote that there ought to be somebody in the home, so that it will be a home, a place of refuge if need be, with someone there to tend to the hurts, when they happen. She would have found modern woman appalling. Actually, she did find modern woman appalling — admirable in some ways, formidable perhaps, but wrong. She knew it because that kind of feminism hit Scandinavia pretty early.

          • R. K. Ich

            Thank you, Mr. Esolen, for opening my eyes to this new vista of hearty catholic literature — Norwegian no less! Can’t wait to dive into her novels.

          • Art Deco

            a place of refuge if need be, with someone there to tend to the hurts, when they happen.

            Not all of us got issued an Italian mother. The opportunity cost of having mother at work does vary from family to family.

            Even among women who have large families, the children therein do eventually grow up and do reach a time ‘ere that where great quanta of attention are not particularly beneficial. I am not sure why you would be hostile to a woman following a trade in those circumstances. To repair to an earlier time: farm wives had a great deal of work to do. There has been some evolution in technology and division of labor which alters the calculus of how time is properly used.

  • Christopher

    But where are the details, Professor? Without details of what is objectionable in this educational reform, this article says very little.

    • Augustus

      This is a column, not a dissertation. The purpose was to distinguish between two competing philosophies of education, a Catholic one and a utilitarian one. What details do you need? Are you not convinced that there is a difference or are you not persuaded that the Catholic view is the right one?

      • Art Deco

        The purpose was to distinguish between two competing philosophies of education, a Catholic one and a utilitarian one.

        That’s not a valid dichotomy.

    • mwa

      For a somewhat detailed report on the objectionable elements of the Common Core educational philosophy (as opposed to standards), read Betsy Kraus’s report “CATHOLIC CHILDREN IN GRAVE DANGER A REPORT ON COMMON CORE IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS”

      • Christopher

        Thank you for the link….I am in total agreement with the article, but also hold the editorial opinion that even a conceptual of this sort needs at least one concrete detail to illustrate the system’s inferiority.

      • James_Kabala

        With so much wrong with the leftist worldview, why do so many conservatives and Catholics find it hard to write articles that are honest and coherent and make sense? “The Heglian Marxist Theory was imported from The Frankfurt School in Germany to the United States many years ago by such men as Horace Mann and Robert Maynard Hutchins” is a ludicrously absurd statement – Horace Mann died more than six decades before there was a Frankfurt School. That is only the most egregious of several howlers in the first few pages of the article – the author is throwing the names of various villains or alleged villains together without any regard for history or chronology or the documented facts.

        • James_Kabala

          I looked up the works of Judy McLemore, the source that Betsey Kraus cites, and she in fact writes about Thomas Mann, a completely different and much later figure. Not that McLemore’s thesis is much better overall. She follows a train of thought in which because Mann (who apparently had some Communist sympathies) admired Goethe and Robert Maynard Hutchins also admired Goethe, therefore Hutchins and friends of Hutchins such as Mortimer Adler and Henry Luce were Communist sympathizers and the famous University of Chicago Great Books project was Communist-influenced. When Luce is quoted as saying that it would be useful for businessmen to take a seminar on the Great Books (the very thing Mr. Bradley rightly calls for above), this is interpreted by McLemore as meaning that Luce wanted businessmen to take a seminar on Marxist principles!

          • Art Deco

            That sort of mess begins to remind one of Birch Society literature, ca. 1971.

            You see it in a different realm with palaeoconservatives peddling the meme that the Republican Party was taken over by Trotskyists and the evidence offered is that William Kristol’s father belonged to a multi-sect discussion circle at City College of New York ca. 1939 where they all ate cream cheese sandwiches, played ping pong, and discussed Plekhanov. Seymour Martin Lipset went and mind-tricked everyone over two generations.

  • Tony

    Human beings need most what they do not need at all. Education cannot be primarily for work; we have training for that. Education must be primarily for the Sabbath. Of all people, the truck driver needs Huck Finn, because in almost all of his hours he is reduced to a part of an economic machine. There must be a time in which he is a man, not a part of a machine.

    • Art Deco

      The truck driver needs to earn a living. If he can appreciate literature like that, that’s gravy, but people do get along without it. If he can appreciate art, that’s gravy. If he can appreciate Jazz, that’s gravy. If he can make furniture, that’s gravy.

      • Laurel

        What if he can make gravy?

        • Art Deco

          That’s gravy.

          • LAJ

            Literature promotes and cultivates critical thinking and yes it is “gravy” if a blue collar worker can appreciate the arts such jazz , culinary or literature but the point im trying to get at is that you NEED to have the implementation and a free thinking basis before you can ever hope to become an individual and decide to drive a truck or preform brain surgery. Marx wrote the communist manifesto …. and orwell wrote animal farm and 1984 . Its a brave bew world people . And if you dont know what any of these references mean madam then you are apart of the problem.

      • Patrick Carlin

        Common Core is producing a “work force” for businesses and government convenience. Read “Brave New World”, and then keep READING to avoid being exploited!

      • musicacre

        You totally missed Tony’s point, we all need to make a living, but does that or should that block out the possibility of developing one’s soul and mind that God gave all of us, rich and poor?

        • Art Deco

          Musicare, where I grew up, around about 7% of the manpower in various and sundry school districts was devoted to vocational training. The vocational high school was eventually turned into a dumping ground for incorrigibles.

          Both elementary and secondary education and distorted and disfigured by the means with which aspirant teachers are recruited, trained, and screened. The problem is compounded by rendering the default in secondary education half-assed liberal education (when we are not attempting to impart basic literacy and numeracy where the elementary schools failed). That’s not an optimal use of the time of the young.

  • NE-Catholic

    First, congratulations to Professor Bradley for his warning about the risks and citation of expert criticism of Common Core indoctrination. Faithful Catholics need to demonstrate against this next stage of the degradation of education into a system of instilling ‘progressive liberalism’ to churn out statist non-thinkers begun by John Dewey and his true believers.

    Second, it is interesting to hear this condemnation come from a professor at the CINO University of Notre Dame. One must wonder if the curriculum at the Law School is designed to teach legalism or the law. The University itself long ago committed itself to a program of progressive anti-Catholic, anti-religious, materialistic education.

  • Bill

    After reading a few of such articles I am left wondering where is the truth in this process. I read conflicting scenarios. For example in this article we read: “Conceived by private foundations and political associations…” I have been told that 45 State Governors, with the help of private foundations, were the driving force. Not the government. Further there is nothing in the Common Core that demands any school use the recommended texts, although they most probably will. Teachers in Catholic schools, if they are worth their salt as Catholics will be able to instill in their students Catholics principles. I don’t k now if Common Core will be able to move our students from the 20th rankings in mathematics and reading, but it is obvious that something must be done or the country will be known for its dunces as well as it’s stupid politicians.

    • RightThinkingWoman

      You are exactly right, Bill. Common Core is not a curriculum. The texts and curriculum materials are selected by the local school districts and teachers (with parental input). I am copying and pasting my response to another commenter explaining my experience with Common Core. For the record, our school district is very high performing. While we live in the 5th poorest district in the state (Tennessee), our high school is ranked in the top 3 (or five depending on a few factors) for the state. We were listed as one of America’s top High Schools in the country by the infamous “US News & World Report.” Here is what I posted for someone else who claimed that Common Core was going to decimate our great Western Intellectual tradition:

      My 8th grade daughter just brought home an assignment requiring her to prepare for a Socratic seminar on Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. At the high school where I work, the 12th grade English teachers assigned Dante’s “Inferno” because they realized it was referenced in some of Shakespeare’s work (as well as another British writer whose name I can’t remember right now). Another teacher assigned Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as an informational text to read alongside Beowulf and The Odyssey to fulfill a CC standard. The standard was “synthesize texts to make a claim and support your claim with textual evidence.” The assignment: “Using Sun Tzu’s text, explain why Beowulf or Odysseus was an effective (or ineffective) warrior/leader. You must cite from both texts to support your claim.”

      The freshmen are required to read Elie Wiesel’s Night and discuss how his perspective on God and his faith changed throughout his ordeal.

  • hombre111

    A thoughtful article that should give anybody pause, and lead to a further investigation of what Common Core is really all about. But this means a careful investigation. Start with the Common Core site and work from there.

  • RightThinkingWoman

    This is the best criticism of Common Core I’ve read. Thank you, Mr. (Dr.?) Bradley for not simply repeating the same conspiracy theories or innuendo that are circulating all over the web. I’ve never even read a sound defense of our current industrial-aged model of education, but you offered one that I think needs to be heard more often. It makes sense that a minimal level of education is what is necessary before people can move on to pursue their livelihoods. Trying to teach to the highest standard would seem to be a vain pursuit.

    I am frustrated by the current push for all students to go to college. It has resulted in a dumbing down of higher education and a demoralization of those who want to pursue the technical trades, which are so under-appreciated and underserved today. As you so aptly stated; for what purpose do we require literary analysis skills (e.g., Huck Finn or Ulysses) of all seventeen year olds?Those skills are important for academic and professional fields, where reading comprehension, inference and interpretation are necessary.

    On the other hand, the corporate interests that have promoted Common Core might argue that what constituted a minimum level of education in the 1900’s is wholly insufficient in today’s media saturated world. Surviving today’s materialistic world requires the ability to discriminate between the messages; to comprehend the information and engage in conversation.

    In any case, I don’t see how anybody could claim that the aim of public education has ever really served the purpose of developing the virtues. I wish it were true, but my reading of history is that the very reason Catholic education emerged in the first place was to protect this purpose of educating while preserving virtue, faith and family. The industrialists were only interested in a minimally educated factory worker….a utilitarian cause.

    Would you agree with that or am I only seeing a narrow slice of history?

    • Ford Oxaal

      College is a joke for the most part — an expensive keg party on birth control. And not everyone is motivated to become a rocket scientist or Greek scholar. But now that we have exported our manufacturing base, there aren’t as many choices for non-rocket scientists to pursue. I have always dreamed of an America that would discover art — this would open the door wider for craftsmen and artisans of all sorts. Beautification could turn into a large portion of our economy. I don’t know what the common core does for art — not the amorphic art of modernism — but real art that exhibits intrinsic excellence. I think a lot of kids with an artistic bent are completely turned off by the modern blobbish art. Our society is presently more of a cud chewing / get cheap stuff society. Will America ever build greatness? Is technology our only legacy? Do you see any movement in the arts in your school — which sounds great.

      • Adam__Baum

        Every year I can, I attend the MidAtlantic Air Museum’s “World War II Weekend”- the exhibits no only include Warbirds, but all aspects of life circa June 1944.

        It’s hard to imagine anybody using, let alone developing something like the Norden bomb sight today or making any mechanical device that will be operational in seven decades.

        I wonder if the High School graduate of 1944 was better educated than the college graduate of 2014. I’m guessing that for many majors, the answer is yes.

    • musicacre

      There are some important reasons why some of your arguments are wrong and can be borne out by examples of common experience. Let me use one of my children, since you are using yours. My son did have some (rather rudimentary) exposure to literary analytic skills, Huck Finn being one of many stories. It helped him to see another ‘s point of view and perhaps even develop some empathy, which isn’t the first on the list for a lot of males. Many other dimensions in his heart and mind were explored and learned, through literature. Later, he becomes involved with the military; I ask you , why is he so liked among his companions and able to help settle disputes? He has an understanding of human nature, not just knowledge of guns and warfare. Would you want our soldiers to be dumb killing robots? He also happens to have a degree in music, which he pursued and financed himself, by being part time in the military. He’s not a great exception, there are many like him. Now he’s moving toward a masters in accounting, and I’m thankful he got math from homeschooling. I’m just wondering why ANYONE would be cheerleading for a dumb-down population, that isn’t allowed to fully develop their thinking abilities which allows one to live life to the fullest and have OPTIONS!!!

      • TomD

        “Many other dimensions in his heart and mind were explored and learned, through literature.”

        This is such a profoundly true and significant statement.

        Today, many people are well schooled, less are well trained, while almost no one is well educated. It is a tragedy that, in the modern era, education has been transformed toward almost exclusively toward training and “schooling.” And the child-centered and social meliorist models of education, which downplayed or dismissed the importance of academic learning, have had a devastating effect on the education of our children. This is the legacy of John Dewey and of those who distorted his ideas even beyond his own.

        Until the entire landscape of the education of educators is completely transformed, things are only going to get worse, I am afraid. This is true because a real education prepares us to be adaptable, flexible and knowledgeable in the broadest sense. Training and schooling do not. In our ever-changing world, flexibility and adaptability are now most important to a successful and meaningful life.

  • scoutsigns

    Pablum in our entertainment, pablum in our news, pablum in our government, pablum in our education. Even homeschooling, currently the best widespread hope for creating thinking adults in this country, is being impacted by this nonsense in some states.

    What is our national obsession with being “average and common”?

  • W Meyer

    Common Core is simply the latest face of John Dewey’s theories, applied. Government schools have been devolving along these lines for over 100 years. I suspect that few contemporary college grads could pass an examination on McGuffey’s volume 6, yet these readers were used in schools where children often left by their early teens, to return to the farm.

    In time there will be two classes: Overlords (already in place) and functional illiterates.

    • Adam__Baum

      Worse than illiterate. They will be innumerate and slaves to their impulses and passions, isolated from the famility, the Church, voluntary associations, unconnected.
      Once the individual is compromised that way, he or she stands alone against the vissisitudes of fortune, and then you have “Julia” who is owned by the state.

      • musicacre

        That was one of the reasons long ago I decided to homeschool; I heard somewhere, from a pro-life priest, that the family was the last bastion of protection between the individual and the naked power of the state. The family needed to be crushed, in a many -pronged attack, as we all now know…. I’m glad none of my 6 children saw the inside of a public school or in the case of where I live, in a modernist Catholic school; but all have achieved adulthood with their faith strong and post-secondary assured. I can only pray they extend the same concern for their children….

        • Adam__Baum

          The sacrifice entailed in that must be monumental, something I applaud. I hope your half-dozen will be able to withstand the terrible gales that are surely coming.

          • musicacre

            Thanks; I think sacrifices made along the way are easier than thinking ahead of time of all the potential ones. God in his wisdom, gave us back so much more than we had hoped for. It was an act of trusting God and we feel privileged to have learned so much along the way and meeting so many wonderful and supportive people! I could go on all day and be really boring, but needless to say in general some unforeseen fruits were: closer relationships in the family, a deeper and more connected faith in the family, time for grandparents, (lots) and lots of time for the “arts” and especially lessons, here and there. Sometimes retired teachers would come out of hiding and give art lessons, or music, etc. My son ended up in the National Youth Orchestra one summer, travelling Eastern Canada. His teacher, a wonderful “retired ” violin teacher was from out east. He ended up getting his degree in viola, but he is still on an education track. His older sister is now a professional voice teacher, and the the third is about to graduate with a piano degree. Somehow we just pieced together whatever talent in the area could teach our children. So they have certainly had teachers and mentors of some kinds…..We now belong to a Distance Learning program that actually pays for some lessons, so we have also had fencing and swimming, not to mention Highland dancing for years; and figure skating at the local rink. And the church set up a cheap sailing program. One retiree ballet teacher taught ballet for one year. So once one family gets the ball rolling, a lot can happen in a parish! Many people get inspired! Maybe our old house needed renos all those years, but we preferred to do lessons, since the kids aren’t home for very long……..well that’s our story!

  • James Stagg

    What a silly and incomplete blurb, ending is suppositions (“is likely to….”; “will very likely”:.) sounds like Professor Bradley is not serious.

    I’m really tired of hearing the hack jobs on CCSS. Let’s either have a rational discussion on the pro’s and con’s, or shut up. Here is yet another of the “elite”, with too much time on his hands, with nothing else to do, but make stupid and uninformed charges about subjects of which he may be slightly aware.

    As we have discussed in many venues, where are the objective criticisms and answers? I’m beginning to think we need more people with actual experience and training in CCSS to talk about it, like the previous posts from RTW, and much less of the half-baked prejudice that I have observed.

    And, BTW, professor, we do not have, as a “hot potato” presently, healthcare reform, we have a poor attempt at healthcare insurance reform. The delivery system is every bit as bad or good as it has always been; there just won’t be as much available as in the past.

    Comment if you wish. I am not taking any more time to contend with this biullcrap.

  • givelifeachance2

    “The growing parents’ rebellion against Common Core makes it rather likely that it will soon find its way there.” Where do you see this “growing parents’ rebellion against Common Core”? The administrators are too in love with the Obamabucks it reels in. I would think the only effective way of rebelling would be to pull out and homeschool.

    • musicacre

      I’ve seen lots of parents complain, then shut up when it comes time to say something. They are like overgrown children themselves, without the ability to really be advocates for their children. They haven’t got past the stage of worrying about what other people think if they make a “radical” decision. If they really were worried, they would home school.

      • Lorelei

        You’re so right. In my kids’ Catholic school, only one other mom besides me even knows what CC is. Everyone I’ve talked to has no idea what it is. When my 3rd grader brought home CC math the other night, I told her she was not doing it that way, but to do it the right way, the way it was always taught before. I told her teacher that she would not be doing CC math in class, and I thought the other mom would also say something. But she didn’t. She just went along with it. I am seriously considering homeschooling next year.

        • musicacre

          Good for you! Start the research now, even if you’re not sure yet. I actually had to convince my husband, way back when…but when he understood he became the greatest supporter, and brought many new Dads into home education!

  • Dick Prudlo

    Sadly, the imposition is not widely known at the local level and will not be likely known by the irreversible time of general inception. Can we reasonably expect the people to stop this destruction of real knowledge? Further, many diocese are in the process and in lock step with its premise. Kill all truth and make the general public as useless as practicable.

  • Cincinnatus1775

    A fish rots from the head; a Republic rots from its education system.

  • liz

    This new curriculum has been a nightmare in our districts. Teachers are still learning, themselves, how to do the math, and how to properly introduce the subjects to kids. Which ends up, sending the students home, with the website to Common Core (NY Engage), and having the parents teach them at home after school. Then what is the purpose of schools at all anymore, if the idea now is for teachers just to handout papers, and parents to teach? We are furious with this and have rallied on our state capitol’s steps. No one wants math that should be able to be done easily in one step, to become several “stragetic” equations and explanations. No parent wants their kids reading hard-core pornographic filth that was chosen for the literature books. No parent wants their child to be forced to think Anti-American and Anti-Christian, UNLESS you are. And that’s what Common Core does.

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  • Julie

    Have you actually read the Common Core? I’m a teacher and everything I have read and interpreted about common core is that it promotes higher learning and critical thinking skills. It is meant to include all students regardless of their abilities. So again, I wonder, did you actually read the Common Core for Language Arts/English and Math or are you just reading what the critics have said about it? The states that have pioneered Common Core tend to be better rated. Do the homework, please.

  • Art Deco

    In my judgment (and in the opinion of a growing number of teachers,
    administrators and parents), Common Core is a wholesale education
    revision that shortchanges the central goals of all sound education,
    which are: to grow in the intellectual virtues; to mature into a
    responsible, flourishing adult; and to contribute as a citizen to the
    process of responsible democratic self-government.

    No, that is the central goal of a ‘liberal education’, not education in general. And if you fancy it is formal schooling which produces responsible adults, you are bound to be disappointed with the results of any actually existing program.

  • quisutDeusmpc

    We are beginning to learn that “capitalism” and even the free market and a democratic republic can be just as much a totalitarianism as was national socialism and communism. Capital has decided that it may be just as efficient to dumb down the populace as it was to export manufacturing overseas and import low wage labor to the U. S..

  • Lowen_Lowen

    I removed my children from the Catholic school system because they embraced Common Core and would not admit it openly. I found out through an internet search and saw photos of the headmaster at a remote school district showing them how to implement it on their computers. I was deeply disappointed and felt intensely betrayed that the once vaunted Catholic curriculum which I PAID FOR for my children was not more special than public schools, without so much as a peep from the school when they changed over. Pretty soon my children brought home in depth “assessments” and learned to read without knowing what vowels or consonants are. I had to teach that to them myself.

    Betrayal and radical change without notice or choice is not what education is to be and I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and watch it implemented.

    Common Core is a central collection point for hundreds of detailed bits of data on everything about my family and my children. They keep the information and I have no legal right to stop them due to the surreptitious changes made to federal parental privacy and consent laws because of Common Core. The data is available for exploit by those who subscribe as vendors to Common Core and whomever they sell the data to, all without my consent or my knowledge.

    The Common Core evaluation system is supposedly designed to “guide” my children into whatever profession their evaluations indicate they are adept at. They already tried that in the Soviet Union under Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev – and I heard all about it from my college Russian professor who had escaped from the USSR and made his way to Paris. I will not stand by and willingly let this happen to our country, and I hope you will not either.

    If you Catholic schools subscribe to Common Core for money, you have sold your souls and your children to the devil and you need to get them back. Common Core is more insidious than the worst stories you have ever heard about it and extremely corrupt. You have only heard a little bit about what it portends for our children and our country.

    Bring back the superior Catholic curriculum and you will never want for want for excellence or students.

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